2021 was a year of ups and downs for all of us; and it’s during such a global economic rollercoaster that it becomes more important than ever to look local. Canada, and Vancouver in particular, is a hub of innovation and small businesses!
Once Again, this year’s International Development Week theme is “Go for the Goals,” with a focus on gender equality, health and climate change. Referring to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this theme illustrates the idea of moving forward in a collaborative and positive way toward a better world.
Not only are many Canadian businesses upholding the UN’s SDGs and assisting in making the future a better place to be; they are also offering unique and amazing products that can’t be found anywhere else. We all want to feel good about the purchasing decisions that we make, so UNAC-V has compiled a list of businesses you can feel good about shopping from in 2021!
Note: This post is not sponsored and UNAC Vancouver is not affiliated with the local brands featured.
Mala the Brand
The United Nations Association of Vancouver (UNAC-V) is proud to be supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth by the United Nations as primary goals and initiatives that need to be implemented for a better world.
SDG #15 is focused on Life on Land which aims to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”
In line with this goal, we wanted to feature a local brand that will become one of your favorites this holiday season and throughout the year. Mala the Brand is a female-owned small business located in Vancouver, B.C. They are focused on bettering the world one candle at a time by planting a tree in North America for every candle sold. Currently, their candles are sold on their website, at Chapters, Nordstrom, and at local retailers.
Mala the Brand is owned by Melody Lim and she only uses toxic free ingredients such as biodegradable soy wax, phthalate free fragrances, and lead-free woodwicks.
In an ever-changing world that has a heavy focus on commercialized city centres, SDG 11 aims to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” This Sustainable Development Goal set forth by the UN is focused on ensuring cities are a safe, healthy, and sustainable environment for all.
Statistics show that air pollution caused 4.6 million deaths in 2016. With this in mind, we wanted to focus on a brand that is determined to create cozy apparel classics, with the smallest environmental footprint. Tentree is a clothing company that produces their goods made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton, hemp, tencel, and recycled polyester. The best part? They plant 10 trees for every product sold. This initiative helps to ensure people all over the world are breathing in fresh oxygen.
In addition, ethical manufacturing is also a main focus at Tentree to ensure those producing these items are treated fairly. On their website, you can also track where the trees are planted and search your own impact by registering your tree codes.
Our oceans and marine life are continuously threatened by various factors. A 100-150% increase in ocean acidity is projected by 2100 which will affect half of all marine life. SDG 14 aims to help mitigate the damage to our marine life by “conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”
Since 1956, a local non-profit has been focused on bettering marine life and devoting time to research and conservation of our oceans. The Vancouver Aquarium has consistently been at the forefront of educating citizens on life under water and protecting our waters. In 2017, they launched Ocean wise: a program that aims to educate people across the globe about ocean conservation and sustainable choices.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vancouver Aquarium has seen a major hit due to the need to pause their in-person events. Their team provides 24/7 critical care for our 70,000 animals, but without the revenue from being open to the public, donations and online sales are necessary. To support the Vancouver Aquarium, you can donate online or shop from their online store.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have also partnered with the Vancouver Aquarium to promote online sales by creating a limited edition face mask.
According to Statistics Canada, in 2014, only 15.7% of small businesses were owned by women, while 64.6% were owned by men. Even with ongoing progress, we see the need to strive for gender equality apparent in all parts of the world. To help create change, SDG 5 aims to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”
With a focus on female empowerment, we wanted to highlight a self-care brand that is not only female-founded but also uses environmentally-friendly ingredients in their products. Blume is a local, female-led brand that creates products that not only look good but are good for you. Sisters Taran and Bunny created Blume to help mitigate the stigma around periods and help young women navigate through puberty.
On their website, you can find gift options for everyone on your list that could use some self-care. From an oil to combat hormonal acne to a natural deodorant, you can find all types of neat products from Blume. In addition, Blume’s products contain no silicone, parabens, or artificial ingredients.
Help Blume “build a safe space for young women to learn, grow, and become their badass selves.”
Vessi Footwear are popular 100% waterproof shoes; the perfect gift idea for Raincouverites. The company offers stylish styles for both men and women, along with gift cards if you are unsure about sizes. Vessi believes that “big change starts small”, which is why they have their own community fund.
Through their initiatives, Vessi has donated warm knits in the wintertime to homeless shelters across North America. They have supported various initiatives by donating masks, have supported the Black Lives Matter movement through donations, and supported mental health projects. Overall, they use their community funds to serve those most in need without bias; helping reduce inequalities. These traits align with SDG 10 to Reduce Inequalities, as Vessi works towards inclusion within communities.
Smoking Lily, located in Victoria BC, is a home brand proudly run by women. They offer cards, clothes, accessories, homeware and several other unique creations. Smoking Lily also has a zero-waste line where products are created from leftover fabric. Not only does their creative process produce one-of-a-kind items, but through recycling discarded materials, they contribute to a circular economy. These production patterns are in line with SDG 12; supporting “responsible consumption and production”.
Most of the patterns and designs created by Smoking Lily feature natural motifs and designs that are distinctly West-Coast. This inspiration has also led to the creative team to pursue the usage of non-toxic inks and dyes in their clothing production. Their brand and business motivation are centered around unburdening the Earth and offering environmentally-friendly fashion that people can be proud to support.
Nada is a unique, Vancouver-based grocery store that prides itself on providing food that has no packaging. Created by two local women, Nada embodies the future of local grocery shopping. It is an innovative space where customers are encouraged to bring their own containers to shop everything from breads to local, fresh produce.
SDG 2 strives to “…end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. Nada is a local sustainable grocery store that aligns with SDG 2 and is “on the mission to connect people to just food.” The wholesome and healthy food Nada offers is free from chemicals and heavy packaging!
They are sustainably transforming the food system by selling all their items completely packaging-free. They also keep plastics out of the food supply chain. Additionally, 1% from every purchase goes towards environmental organizations to encourage sustainability within food chains.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise in BC, it’s more important than ever to work together to bend the curve. A great way to do that is to maintain social distancing and wear a mask while in public places. Wondering where to get a cool mask? Check out MAKE Vancouver; a Vancouver-based craft company specializing in custom masks!
What makes MAKE so great is not only that they offer customization and uploading of your own designs to a mask, but their branding and marketing alsommakes their Granville Island location super fun and kid friendly. Adjusting to wearing a mask can be difficult for some children, but MAKE’s atmosphere makes everything approachable and fun, not scary and different. For parents with reluctant children, MAKE offers the perfect solution.
SDG 3 is focused on improving the health of everyone. What better way to invest in your health and support local business than by buying a fun mask for yourself or your loved ones? In case you aren’t feeling overly creative, MASK also has a large range of already-made masks for you to choose from. They also offer holiday-themed masks!
All-natural? Check. Canadian-made? Check. Indigenous-owned and rooted in cultural importance? Check. Looking for a line of skincare that you can really feel good about putting on your body for a multitude of reasons? Look no further than SḴWÁLWEN Botanicals. The line has been created based on traditional Squamish plant knowledge and is produced in small batches to ensure top quality of ingredients. The line ranges from bath salts to facial toners, with a diverse line of products in between.
The line is sustainable, in line with Indigenous tradition, and has a complete focus on the land and nature in which the skincare ingredients are sourced. The brand also has an amazing story and background; just check out their About page by clicking here. SDG 8 is focused on Economic Equality, and by supporting brands run by Indigenous owners, you are doing your part to take a step closer to economic equality and representation in Canada.