We went from 11 years to 18 months left before we can’t do anything about the repercussions of climate change anymore. As we may be shocked by this unfortunate news, we do not have the time to sit around, doing nothing about the situation anymore. Time is ticking, and our future is at stake: we need to act now, and fast! Sadly, humans can accomplish many things, but ending this environmental crisis with the snap of a finger isn’t one of them. Though, we can still do something about this crisis: going sustainable. Fortunately, many shops out there can help us transition into a more sustainable life, such as Hera & Co. In this article, Erin, founder of this online store, will tell us more about how Hera & Co. came to be as well as her knowledge on sustainable and zero waste practices.
What was the inspiration behind your company’s name?
“Hera is an intense queen of Greek gods, and she is often used as a symbol of motherhood and childbirth... but she’s known to have a vengeful side. We think that she depicts Hera & Co.’s aesthetic perfectly - we love mother earth, and we are fueled by the obligation that society has to change to prevent the destruction of our planet.”
How did everything start?
“I started my journey to zero-waste a year and a half ago and realized that it’s really tricky to get the supplies you need in Canada since there weren’t many shops that had what I was searching for. I figured why not start it myself? I know what people would need based on personal experience, and I understand the complex problem of this climate crisis. So, I’m also able to effectively educate people instead of just pushing a product to make money.”
Why are you doing what you are doing right now?
“I feel like we have no other choice, businesses usually change before public policy does, so this is my way of being an activist. If we can make zero-waste living easy for people, they will do it regardless of if the government tells them to or not.”
Do you make all the products that you sell?
“We are a hub to find Canadian-made, zero-waste products. So, we don’t make anything in Hera & Co. facilities per se, but we do visit studios to get close to the process when we can. Before we make a partnership decision, we ask them a lot of questions about sourcing, sustainable practices in the making of the products, and the list goes on.”
Besides selling sustainable products, what other sustainable practices does Hera & Co. commit to?
“We also contribute by putting out a lot of educational content on our website and Instagram, host clean-ups around Toronto, work with other businesses to find ways they can produce less waste, and attend speaking engagements to spread the zero-waste message. We find it’s the most effective to connect with people interested in zero-waste by having a real social media account that doesn’t pretend to be perfect and meeting people in person. Ultimately our mission is to empower Canadians to live a zero-waste lifestyle – be that through education, accepting a variety of currencies, or meeting people one-on-one to have real chats.”
Do you think “Hera & Co” reflects the concept of “triple bottom line,” which is the concept that a business should focus as much on their social and environmental performance as they do in terms of finance?
“I think, based on our values, of course, we do. Every single decision we make has a question of environmental and social impact. Both in deciding what products to source, but more importantly, where we are sourcing them from. We partner with a lot of local businesses to support the local economy, rather than sourcing inexpensive foreign, and probably questionably made, products.”
What is your opinion on benefit corporations, which are institutions that have a positive impact on the community, its employees, and the environment?
“I think that B Corps are great. As a small business, I can’t afford to be accredited right now, and you have to be incorporated, but I think it is a great audit layer for consumers’ awareness. Otherwise, it’s hard to navigate greenwashing marketing and having B Corps give customers a level of comfort to know that these businesses have had to fight to prove their legitimacy. I think businesses can’t be perfectly zero-waste, sourcing mistakes happen, miscommunication happens, but the point is knowing who is genuinely trying and who isn’t, in a world where most businesses are not even considering environmental or social impacts. It’s much easier to have a greenwashing campaign than get a B Corp certification if you aren’t operating with good intentions. So certification bodies like this are very important, even if they aren’t perfect, for peace of mind for customers in my opinion.”
What are your thoughts on the sudden, environmental crisis where we have 18 months left before the impact of climate change becomes irreversible?
“I don’t think this was really sudden; scientists have been trying to get our attention for a long time. But to see the firm 18-month timeline caused me a lot of stress. As as I reflected more and talked to more people, I realized that it’s probably better to tell the public that we need to get ourselves together in 18 months because the 11 years that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) initially set out seemed really far for the people who didn’t care. I am a firm believer that people need to vote, email MPs, or DO something to push the environmentalist agenda forward. We can sit around here talking all day, but nothing will change until we stop supporting huge corporations, go out and protest, and cause a hassle for politicians and businesses.”
Do you have any tips for those who want to lead a more sustainable lifestyle?
“Choose one way that you want to make an impact each day; you don’t need to be perfect and feel like a failure if you aren’t perfect every single day. That could be something simple like saying no to a single-use plastic bag, eating veggies on meatless Mondays, biking instead of driving, or researching something to better arm yourself with facts. Just do one thing. If each of us makes one good choice today, that can accumulate to a whole lot of good! You will not be the one person to save the planet, but you can be one person that helps to save it – all you have to do is one good thing a day.”
What would you like to share with your future customers?
“If you’re new to zero-waste, I want everyone to know that we are one of the good ones. We encourage people to use what they already have before buying new, including from us! Living zero-waste is so much more than just avoiding single-use plastic: it’s about being mindful of the resources that our planet has and not outliving your share. If anyone has questions about living zero-waste I’m always just an email or DM away; you can find us on Instagram @hera.and.co or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!”
Thank you, Erin, for sharing with us your inspiring journey through a sustainable lifestyle. We can see that it is immensely rewarding and fulfilling, seeing what it brought to you, as well as it is very insightful. I have learned multiple things through this interview, and I’m sure many of you did as well. If you’d like to learn more about Hera & Co, feel free to visit their social media platforms and online store. They recently released an amazing new line of refillable soaps on their website, and Erin plans to do even more, so you sure will be in for a surprise! If you are interested in discovering other rising, eco-friendly companies, stay tuned because this is only the beginning…