In a time where the world is being asked to challenge itself in ways that we never could have imagined, there are new routines and creative ways to continue living in a connected way popping up like never before.
I consider myself blessed to live in a country that is a melting pot of great minds, kind spirit, creative entrepreneurial drive, and togetherness like no other. I am proud to say that we live in a place that believes in supporting one another even when we ourselves might be on our knees.
While there have been many sad statistics echoing across news stations both here and around the globe there is also an unsung passion to strive forward, do good and continue to grow.
As a small business owner, like many I have been feeling the effects of social distancing orders, the work we need to do for racial injustices, and the adaptation to our ‘new normal’. I am the founder of The Better Farm Co. a small sustainability lifestyle brand out of Alberta and our primary product line is intended for helping others reduce waste while grocery shopping.
It seemed that just as Canadians were starting to really embrace the idea of treading a bit more lightly and reducing their single-use plastics we were hit by a global crisis so encompassing that it has shifted our focus and our entire way of living. Suddenly all the normal every day news and initiatives seem to pale in comparison to the common goal of just trying to overcome this pandemic.
I have had many people ask me over the past couple of weeks how I feel about the idea that most grocery stores are not allowing items to be brought in from home to pack or carry their groceries out of fear of spreading this virus. My answer is simple. Right now, we need to trust in the science and professionals that are doing their best to keep us as a community safe. If that means that we have to resort back to plastic for the time being for the greater good of one another’s health, then I am the first person to abide. Knowing that there will be a tomorrow.
Does this mean that my business is bringing in fewer sales? Absolutely. But there are so many other ways that we can give meaningful content and resources to our community during this time. And, if we are looking at this from a social change perspective, I think the shimmer of hope underlying all of this is that when it really matters when Canadians (and the world for that matter) are shown that we need to collectively come together for the greater good no matter how inconvenient we rise to the challenge. This tells me that from a sustainability perspective, when the world settles and when our hearts have healed people will continue to want to do good, they will want to make changes that make the world a better place.
There are so many ways that we are seeing businesses change and evolve and step up to meet their community's needs during this time and provide them with what is needed (even if it is a completely different model than what their company was built for.)
For us, at The Better Farm Co., we are using this time to connect with our local community to feed Calgary’s school children who normally rely on a brown bag lunch program each day to fill their tummies. We are providing 100% recycled and biodegradable lunch bags to local restaurants that have retained their staff and stepped up to make the lunches that otherwise could not be made and distributed. We got creative and researched ways that we could still share our message of less waste and education by making craft cards for each lunch bag, so kids and parents can repurpose their child’s bag into a craft with links to learn about the sea animal they are making and how they can protect them. By doing this we are building community, feeding kids, and sharing our sustainable living message with entirely new audiences while connecting families through craft and reading.
The examples of how companies are doing this are endless and it is truly beautiful to watch.
As consumers and members of the community, there are so many ways that you can contribute also. By supporting small local businesses through online sales, you are filling their pockets and their hearts.
While shopping and buying things in the traditional sense are looking much different right now the beauty of the digital age is that so many companies also have social media followings and online shops. Choosing to stay in and shop from the comforts of your own home is not only safer right now but also means that you have the opportunity to choose who you shop. I would encourage you to find local alternatives whenever possible for the items you are needing or wanting. Small businesses need your support and by choosing to shop them not only are you lessening your environmental footprint, but you are keeping them in business during this unprecedented time. If they are a business like ours you may also be contributing to charitable causes through your purchases during this time.
With more time on our hands, it’s a great opportunity to visit the websites of companies you have been curious about. Take a moment to go their “about” page and learn a bit more about the brand and who is behind it. You might fall in love with the story of how and why the company was formed. There is something truly special about finding a business that has a value system aligned with yours.
We are so used to being in such a fast-paced world that there is often little time for curiosity and research when it comes to the pages we find ourselves driven to for the purpose of shopping. This is a brilliant time to read the stories and find who you really want to support and why. This is also a great way to feel pride in your purchase and in turn make you more likely to share your experience or the product with others. If you believe in the company/brand and you love the product now is the time more than ever before to share a google review or post on social media about the great new brand you found.
Don’t have the budget to shop right now during this financially uncertain time? That is ok too! There are still so many ways that you can support small local companies. By spending the time to learn about the stores you want to invest in and support once the world can exhale you have armed yourself with details that your friends and family would likely also benefit from also. So share what you learn as you take the time to learn about your local sustainable shops! When you see these companies posting on social media like and share their posts ~ it only takes a second, but this small act is huge for small businesses.