September 2, 2021

By: Karisa Simon

As travelers and residents, we can all do more work to make our carbon footprint a little bit smaller. This week, I wanted to highlight a local business that is making it easier for everyone to enjoy Oakville responsibly, EcoFillosophy.

I had the opportunity to chat with owners Thanh and Renata about their amazing zero-waste products that are great for travel, such as reusable cutlery, reusable shopping bags, shampoo and conditioner bars, reusable masks, deodorant and more. Next time you’re in town, start your sustainable tourism journey with this Best Sustainable Shopping Talk of The Town Award winner!

Keep scrolling to read the full Q&A:

What led you to open EcoFillosophy?

Ten years ago, we came across an issue of National Geographic that shook us. It focused on plastic waste and made us start thinking about the long-term effects of plastic. It was a turning point for us. We both had small children at home and wondered what kind of world we were leaving to them. We realized we had to do something to turn the situation around so we started with our own families: rethinking purchases, single-use plastics and packaging, buying in bulk, opting for reusable and recyclable containers whenever possible.

But we wanted to do more.

We discussed launching a refillery – a concept being pioneered on the west coast. But corporate jobs and young families meant we had to wait. In July of 2020, we opened our full-service boutique to encourage people to live more sustainably. Now we’re encouraging other families on their low-waste journeys to adopt the 12Rs of sustainable living: remember, respect, refuse, reduce, reuse, return, refill, rot, restore, repurpose, repair, and only when all efforts are exhausted, recycle, to dispose of waste responsibly.

Why did you choose to be located in the Bronte Village? What impact do you hope to have in Bronte Village?

Oakville is home to us, and we were struggling to find all-natural, Canadian-made products that could be refilled in our own neighbourhoods. We have a lot of like-minded friends who were looking for similar solutions and, with our children grown, we figured this was the time to live our dream, right here in our hometown. Then the pandemic hit – yikes!

Although it was a challenging first year, we’ve found a lot of customers here and in surrounding areas who are trying to live more sustainably – which is fantastic! – but so many more who aren’t yet thinking about low waste living, or who have dabbled but not found natural products that work for them. We feel we’re having an impact every time we help someone successfully transition to a sustainable product they love.

In addition, a big part of our eco philosophy lies in advocacy, working with local schools, environmental networks and community organizations. We support food drives and invite customers to join us in donating locally. And, we have even bigger plans for the community – from local clean-ups and fundraising programs to workshops and educational sessions – but those have to wait until we can gather safely.  And, Bronte Village is just plain beautiful and has its own unique vibe that we’ve always loved – we’d would love to make it one of Canada’s first eco-friendly commercial neighbourhoods – there are already so many small businesses down here doing great things with very little external support. We could have a serious impact if we band together.

How did you come up with the name EcoFillosophy?

When we came up with the name a decade ago, there weren’t a lot of peoplethinking sustainably. It’s not easy today, with convenience often winning out. It was even less so then. We knew our shop would likely appeal to a very specific demographic – one that was ecologically-minded and with whom living sustainably and being kind to the environment aligned with their personal values or philosophy. And a big part of our vision has always focused on refill to create less waste, especially plastic. So you could say it was our eco-FILL-osophy then, and we’re thrilled the name stood the test of time and so many are living it today.

Why should Oakville residents and visitors begin their zero-waste and sustainable travel journey at EcoFillosophy?

The truth is they don’t have to start with us. Sure, we’d like them to support local, but there are a lot of low-waste efforts people can and have been undertaking at home. We applaud that. Change does not have to be all-encompassing. We never encourage purging and starting fresh. Use what you have. Save your containers. When you run out – of shampoo, dish soap, even toilet paper! – think sustainable. All natural. Compostable. Organic. Small batch and Canadian made. These have been part of our eco philosophy for years, so hopefully we can help make that transition an easier one.

Besides selling sustainable living products and operating as a refillery, are there any other initiatives/campaigns that your store conducts?

We are always advocating for Mother Earth. Whether educating people on the Nestle water situation in Southern Ontario, speaking at events or inviting customers to sign important environmental petitions. Locally, we’re a collection depot for all kinds of things – food donations in support of local food drives, a rotating selection of TerraCycle recycling boxes (right now we have oral care, snack wrappers, beauty products and wrapping paper!) and clean and de-labelled prescription pill containers shipped by Ottawa-based reuse operation, Earthub, to aid disaster recovery efforts. We have a beach clean-up coming soon – stay tuned for details on our social media accounts – and we give back to our community, both with gifts and in-kind donations. They have been an amazing support for us, we are happy to support them.

What advice would you give to someone who is new to zero waste living and sustainable tourism?

Start small, at home and on the road. Switch to sustainable products and packaging, one product at a time. Shampoo bars in aluminum tins or toothpaste tablets, for example, make great travel companions – they’re light, don’t count as part of your liquid allowance for ‘carry-on’ travelers, and leave nothing behind when you move on. Always carry your own reusables – like straws, flatware or tumblers – so you’re not tempted to reach for disposables.

Be conscientious and teach your kids the 12Rs of low-waste living – our younger generation holds a lot of hope for the future. Pay attention to what’s going on in the world and use your voice for positive change – the crazy weather we are seeing is the result of our choices. We can reverse the crisis we are in, and live healthier lives.

Stay connected with EcoFillosophy by following their social media account and be sure to visit their website and store to view their amazing products.

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