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Hometown Proud: Sustain Eco Store

Hometown Proud: Sustain Eco Store

Wild Rock has been committed to Peterborough’s downtown core for almost 30 years. Over these years we have had pressure and opportunity to move out of the downtown, but we believe strongly in the need for a community to have a healthy core, a heart. As people who live and work downtown, we are all invested in the success of the individuals and businesses who make their home here.

Hometown Proud is our way to highlight some of our very favourite and up and coming downtown businesses. These are the places that the Wild Rock team supports daily, the places that we are excited about and the places that we are proud to share our home with. Watch for this series on The Journal each month!

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SUSTAIN ECO STORE - JESS’S FAVOURITE ZERO/LOW-WASTE SHOP

Sustain Eco Store has been a fixture in Huntsville for over 10 years now, but the owners Celine and Jonathan MacKay opened up their George Street, Peterborough location in July 2019, after winning the DBIA Win This Space competition. The bright, spacious retail store provides sustainable, nontoxic, practical and beautiful care solutions that help people live life in a more intentional, environmentally friendly way. They carry products to green-up your lunch box, handcrafted kids toys made with non-toxic wood and paint, safer beauty products, cleaning essentials made of sustainable materials, and more. And since reducing plastic is key to a better future for us all, there’s the Refill Bar - a selection of about 50 bulk household and personal care products - just bring in a reusable container and they’ll fill it up with your favourite.

We sat down for a chat with Sustain’s Peterborough Manager, Chelsea, to find out more.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS SPECIAL ABOUT SUSTAIN?

“We’re giving folks options and education to figure out what steps they can take to green their lifestyle a little bit... From people just figuring out how to change to reusable produce bags, to people who have been living zero waste for so many years, we try to provide options for everyone from one end of the spectrum to the other.”

“It’s allowed me to have a bigger shift in my mindset and lifestyle, and it's about proving people with the education and having the products available and showing people the small changes that can lead to a bigger impact... People say “is it really going to make that big of a difference if I stop using grocery or produce bags?” And it does! Freshco now offers paper bags throughout their produce section, and Sobeys no longer offers plastic bags at all. There are changes and shifts that are happening, and people are able to demand it through their actions.”

 

WHAT HAS YOUR JOURNEY BEEN LIKE ON YOUR WAY TO THIS LIFESTYLE?

“Jonathan and my husband were roommates in university. I'd been following their journey of building Sustain, and the level of education they were providing, even just sharing eco tips that you didn't have to buy a product for, but practical changes you could make. I was bringing many of those changes into my life and had been working in the service industry for the last 14 years. I was starting to have a hard time with the level of waste [in that industry]. It wasn't really lining up with my personal goals and the way I wanted to live my life. We've taken out one small garbage bag in the 8 months we've been open [at Sustain], whereas there would be two big garbage bags, just from front of house, at the end of a restaurant shift before.”

Photo of Chelsea, Sustain's store manager

IF YOU COULD SUGGEST A FIRST STEP THAT PEOPLE CAN TAKE TO LIVE MORE SUSTAINABLY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

“Do a garbage and recycling audit. Look at your household waste and what’s consistently being thrown out. Whether it's the plastic bottles that your products come in, or it’s food waste that just isn't being used. Then figure out what shift needs to be made - if you find that your recycling is overflowing with plastic bottles, figure out ways to buy things in bulk, whether it's cleaners, shampoo and conditioner, which we offer here. Or just look at buying more from bulk food stores like The Main Ingredient or Joanne’s Place - because they provide so much that people don't even think about.”

Chelsea says it may take a bit more time and effort, but slowing things down isn't such a bad idea. “Another big one that people just don't consider, is how big of a difference having a compost makes, even just in your backyard. It forces people to stop and think about it, because it's going into your own yard. You're looking at how much is going there - so you’re going to try and make sure that it's a reasonable quantity, and it helps to shift your mindset a bit.”

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need a million people trying their best.”

 

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHAT PRODUCTS TO CARRY?

“There are a number of lines that we've consistently carried for the last 10 years. They are tried and true products the owners really believe in... Transparency is something we really rely on - if we’re not able to get clear answers on an ingredient, or why certain things are used, we’ll often choose to just not carry those products. We really want to be able to give our customers as much information about the product as well.”

“As often as possible we love to carry local, or small independent companies, and there are a few we carry that started off as really small who have managed to really grow over the years. We always revisit things to make sure we’re carrying the best products we can. We have a good/better/best system, where with some things, we carry the best option for that product, other times, something may not exist yet, so we have to settle for a better option, or even just something falling into a more achievable price point for people. We try to make it so it's accessible for people.”

 

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PRODUCT?

“I personally love the Carina Organics shampoo and conditioner. I just love the scent of it. It’s just nice to make a simple thing more enjoyable. I also really love the Onyx stainless steel lunch containers. Somehow we've actually started to waste less food, because you just package it up and take it with you.”

A display of Carina Organics hair products on a shelf

 

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT WORKING DOWNTOWN?

“I love the community. If I go to get my lunch I run into four people I know and its hugs and “how are ya’s”, we talk about their business, and ways we can work together in the future. People know you, they recognize you, there's that sense that you belong there. During lunch time it's usually Night Kitchen, Sam’s Place or By The Bridge - those are some of my favourites. I love The Food Shop - not a lot of people know about it. I love what he's trying to do there to really make visible what we have available locally. After work I love the Olde Stone, St. Veronus, Le Petit Bar, and The Only.”

 

WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT SHOPPING DOWNTOWN?

“It's a real community and I think people just don't realize how much they can find downtown. The mall might seem easier, but it’s not. It's so much nicer having a face to where your money is going. That quote about how Amazon isn't going to sponsor your kids hockey team - it's true. If those local businesses are providing support in the community, it's nice when the community provides their support in return. I think people don't realize how small of an action it takes. Spending $50 at a local business can brighten their day - someone legitimately is doing a happy dance that you spent money in their store. There's really no need to be afraid of downtown, it's just such an awesome place to be and spend some time, and share your energy a bit.”

interior of Sustain's downtown Peterborough shop

 

Visit Sustain Eco Store at:

418 George Street North

https://shop.sustainecostore.com