Green entrepreneurship, or where innovation meets values
The story of an entrepreneur who made the environment her company's mission.
Becoming an entrepreneur is an incredibly good way of creating a job that fits with your values. It's also a chance for young entrepreneurs who want to change things and build a future they believe in.
So it's for good reason that we see some members of the next generation get into business to offer innovative products and services, especially the kind that can help people lead a more ecological, sustainable lifestyle. Some even make environmental consciousness the core of their business activities and their company's mission. The opportunities are huge and they let the entrepreneur combine authenticity and innovation every day.
Entrepreneurs that create solutions that are both innovative and eco-friendly
A lot of people are making an effort to limit their impact on the environment and entrepreneurs are coming up with numerous initiatives and innovations to help them do so, such as:
- Reducing the number of over packaged items and promoting bulk purchasing. The number of options is growing and more and more zero waste businesses are opening their doors.
- Favouring the manufacture of sustainable products for people who choose reusable, repairable goods. Today we can easily learn what an item's repairability index is thanks to initiatives like iFixIt (in French) and groups like Touski s'répare (in French), and these entrepreneurs become partners for people who want to give their goods a second life.
- Produce clothing that's built to last for people who reject fast fashion and want to reconsider how they consume clothing, which is the third most polluting industry in the world.
These small daily gestures can end up making a big difference. And, faced with this reality, young entrepreneurs sometimes jump at the opportunity to create new solutions that make our lives easier. It's with this philosophy in mind that Marie-Pierre founded the KLIIN company. Knowing that every little bit counts, she developed a paper towel made from 100% natural fibres that's machine washable and compostable after you wash it about 300 times.
“ What drives us is seeing how we can get involved on a small scale to help people find solutions and, mostly, realizing that they like our products because they work really well. With small acts, we help people adopt better habits. We're not perfect, but we contribute in our own small way, by offering effective solutions to people looking for alternatives.”
And she's not the only one developing ecological products for everyday life. Today you can find products that meet a number of different needs: diapers and feminine hygiene products that are washable and reusable, packaging for sustainable foods that replaces the notorious single-use plastic bag, bamboo toothbrushes with replaceable heads, packaging-free shampoo in bar form, etc. When it comes to avoiding single-use products, from the kitchen to the bathroom, the options are endless!
“ We can also eliminate plastic wrap in the kitchen and replace it with sheets of beeswax, or buy cleaning products in bulk to go. There are more and more alternatives available, both in our corner grocery store and in the big chains, ” said Marie-Pierre, who knows the ecosystem teeming with eco-friendly Quebec businesses around her pretty well.
Buying green, it's worth the cost
Even if a lot of people want to make choices that are more ecological, when the time comes to make a purchase, often the consumer in them hesitates. That's because the prices are often higher compared with throw-away products. So entrepreneurs have an education job to convince consumers that the difference is worth it. In fact, even if the up-front cost is higher, you end up saving in the long run because you don't have to make replacement purchases as often as with disposable items. But companies know that's once you're in the aisle it's pretty hard to make these kind of calculations!
Taking the time to explain it all is a challenge that Marie-Pierre has running her company, but according to her, it's the key.
“It's not hard, but you need to take the time to explain it. There's a lot of education to be done and you need to talk about a product's features and benefits. When consumers read the packaging or listen to us talk, they're automatically convinced,” says the person who never hesitates to go to consumer expos to present and explain the ecological advantages of her products. Sometimes all it takes is a one try and consumers are sold!
Times change, corporate mentalities evolve
While people today are more conscious of their impact on the environment, companies know that consumers expect them to follow and make sure that their activities are part of a sustainable development approach. If big companies change their way of doing things, we also see some spring up directly from this environmental consciousness and who have as their mission the promotion of an ecological philosophy.
Marie-Pierre has also noticed over the years that “people's thinking has changed a lot. They are more open and looking for new options available to them. The popularity of different events, salons and conferences on the environment attest to that. People are proud to share the little changes they make in their daily lives. On our end, the number of consumers that contact us hasn't stopped growing. They tell us they've been using our products for six months, a year, two years and that they haven't bought a single roll of paper towels since!”
The evolution of people's environmental consciousness and the desire to make more ecological choices are undeniable trends. Whether this involves doing little things every day or as a complete lifestyle, people want to find companies that are onboard and share their values. For Marie-Pierre, the equation is simple: There are so many amazing companies starting up with the mission of finding solutions. Let's support them.”