How can businesses be regenerative?

Why are businesses important in the regenerative movement?

Businesses are the link between resources which come from the land and the consumers. If we want to make changes in how the land is managed, businesses and consumers are key players. At our 2017 Living Soils Symposium, we did a panel on the role of business and some people were inspired to think differently. One of those people was Philippe Choinière, the co-founder of Oneka Elements, who moderated the business panel.

Philippe and his wife Stacey from Oneka Elements

Philippe and his wife, Stacey Lecuyer, run their business and own a farm in Frelighsburg, Quebec. Oneka makes shampoos and cosmetic products from medicinal plants which they grow on their farm. They were already a business with a fairly high level of eco-responsibility. Their plants are organic, they offer bulk formats so that people can refill their bottles and they are in the process of becoming a certified B corp (beneficial corporation holding a triple bottom line of people/planet/profit).

After the Symposium, they felt a sense of hope. They felt a personal need to raise the bar. Sustainable and organic is good but not enough, Philippe said. We need to be regenerating our ecosystems. Someone asked them, “what is the impact of your business? How do you know what your footprint is?” They thought they were pretty good but they didn’t actually know, so they hired Groupe Agéco, an environmental consulting company, to do a life cycle analysis of their business. They were shocked to find that despite being far more sustainable than the average business, they had a carbon footprint of 150 tonnes per year and a plastic footprint of 10,000 kg per year. Now they are determined to offset their impact and to examine their practices to see how they can do better. In our society the cost of pollution is not necessarily assumed by the business that emits it. Oneka is determined to make that cost intrinsic in their business and to continue researching to make their products and processes less polluting.

But even more than their personal trajectory with making changes to their own business, Philippe and Stacey are eager to engage in the conversation about how businesses can contribute to the regenerative movement. They contacted us at Regeneration Canada and we are excited to work together to host the conversation about how businesses can make a difference. We want to invite businesses to tell us about what they are doing to contribute to regeneration and we want to invite citizens to support regenerative businesses by voting with their money. Oneka has invited us to host an event on their farm next summer to bring together farmers, businesses, citizens and artists to share about how we can be better and do more together. We can’t say more for now, stay tuned!

Oneka Elements is a proud member of Regeneration Canada. If you have a regenerative business, we would love for you to join the movement and be a part of the conversation.