Environmentally friendly businesses of Thunder Bay

March 2022

We’re very well aware of the negative effects the pandemic has created in our lives, but have you stopped to consider some of the positive changes that have happened to our environment since Covid became a four-letter word?

Say, for example, our air.

With fewer planes in the sky and less vehicles on the roads the world’s atmospheric chemists have noted significant drops in air pollution – up to 65% in some countries – and a definite improvement in air quality.

And what about wildlife?

Since 2019 there’s been a significant increase in the sighting of animals. Scroll through Facebook or jump through a few pages of Instagram and you’ll see photos of bears walking nonchalantly down neighbourhood streets, deer giving birth at doorsteps, and birds filling beaches and parks, enjoying life un-intruded by humans.

The pandemic has given us an idea of what it would be like if humans did more to look after the world.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could continue this trend and clean up our planet – at least try in our own backyard?

Take our shopping habits for instance. It’s easy to reduce the amount of plastic entering our landfill sites simply by using reusable cloth bags to carry our purchases out of the store. Statistics show that the average person can use up to 350,000 plastic bags in a lifetime if they don’t opt for the more environmentally friendly option. Ugh. Try wrapping your head around that one.

There are many businesses in Thunder Bay and the surrounding area that are working hard to reduce our impact on the environment.

The Refill Co, located at 4277 Oliver Rd. in Murillo, works to reduce the use of single use plastics. Instead of throwing out that plastic bottle of shampoo, laundry detergent or cleaning product,
consumers now have the chance to refill and reuse it.

The process is quite simple. You bring in your old plastic container – say for example, an empty shampoo bottle – weigh it at the front counter at the store, fill it with the shampoo of your choice, weigh it again, and then pay for the weight of the product.

Sisters and owners, Jen Mitchell and Sarah Blando, are passionate about nature and want to do whatever they can to reduce the human footprint on the environment. The products they offer are free from harmful chemicals, not tested on animals, and, as often as possible, made in Canada. They note that there are many companies that offer eco-friendly products and they strive to stock as many as they can.

The Refill Co is open Thursday to Sunday for in-store shopping and offers contactless pickup for online orders.

Go to: www.therefillco.net

Tara and Derek Bravinder and their three children started their business, Three Huggers, after they saw the abundance of single use plastic containers on the shore of a river. They sell items such as beeswax food wraps, reusable paper towels, cloth wipes, and wet bags that are great for carrying your bathing suit home from the lake.

Three Huggers strives to produce a variety of high-quality products with a focus on sustainability, practicality, and beauty. One look at the many colourful fabrics they use to create their products and you’ll agree.

For more information about Three Huggers and their products go to: www.threehuggers.com.

Many restaurants and food services have sprouted up in Thunder Bay during the last few years in response to bringing a more sustainable diet to the public. Although reports vary on how much grain and water is required to produce one pound of beef, no one can deny that a diet that leans towards more plant than meat consumption is less taxing on the planet.

Bonobos Foods’ (www.bonobosfoods.com) menu is completely vegetarian. From their burger patties to their vegan cheeses, soups, salads and desserts, everything is made, as their website says, to “keep both your heart and belly happy!” One visit to their restaurant at 493 Oliver Rd. and you’ll agree. The food is wholesomely delicious, the meals tend to keep you fuller longer, and you don’t get that carb crash.

Bonobos Foods also shops locally. Many of their ingredients come from local suppliers such as Thunder Oak Cheese Farm, Agostino’s Bakery, Vegetate Market Garden, B&B Farms, Vanderwees Farms, Heartbeat Hot Sauce Co., Nor’Wester Maple Co., and Wolfhead Coffee.

Another one of their suppliers is Meet the Alternative.

Tammy and Derek Sawyer started their meat and cheese alternative business out of a desire to eat healthier and offer products to consumers who care about the environment. Realizing that some people can be a bit hesitant when trying plant-based cheeses and meat replacements, Tammy worked for months experimenting with different bases – including soy beverages and coconut oil – and spices just to get the right texture and flavour.

Derek admits it took a bit of coaxing to get him away from meats, but once he sampled the products there was no looking back. Neither have had to give up anything. They still eat pizza and nachos and practically everything else, but now only vegan-style. For more info about their business go to www.facebook.com/meetthealternative

And there are more businesses that deserve a shout out for doing what they can to help our planet, such as:

  • The Growing Season, (www.growingseason.ca) who offer cutlery in a container for their customers to purchase in an effort to reduce the amount of plastic spoons, knives, and forks that enter our landfill.
  • Safeway and Metro, who offer bio-degradable paper bags as an alternative to plastic bags.
  • Ungalli Clothing Co., who offer clothing that is ethically made in Canada from recycled and organic materials. Their website states: Each tee saves 10 plastic bottles from the landfill, 41 days of drinking water, 7 hours of light bulb energy, and 1 km of driving emissions. For more info go to www.ungalli.com
  • Bare Organics, who produce natural and organic skin care products for cleaning, moisturizing, and deodorizing. They boast that their products are made from food grade ingredients so most are safe enough to eat – although they don’t quite recommend it. For more info go to www.bareorganics.ca
  • Thrift and Second-Hand Stores that encourage re-using and thus reduce the amount of garbage that enters our landfills.
  • Boreal Body, who produce skincare products, including salves, lip balms, and bath salts, made from local wild botanicals that are ethically harvested from the boreal forest region of Northwestern Ontario. For more info go to www.facebook.com/borealbody
  • Boreal Solutions, who offers eco-friendly products for cleaning and janitorial purposes. For more info go to www.boreal-solutions.com

These are just a few of the businesses in Thunder Bay and the surrounding area who have an environmental conscience and want to offer better alternatives to their customers. It’s one way to make a difference in helping out in our backyard, our city, our country, and yes, our world.

Donna White is an accomplished author and Jubilee Medal winner for her volunteer work with World Vision. Visit her website at www.DonnaWhiteBooks.com

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