Ottawa business colours outside the lines with eco-friendly stationery

·2 min read
Greenre specializes in environmentally conscious stationery products for children. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)
Greenre specializes in environmentally conscious stationery products for children. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)

After spending nearly a decade working in manufacturing, Ottawa's Keith Loiselle saw first-hand the amount of waste and single-use items destined for landfills.

Now his company Greenre works to change the habits of consumers by introducing eco-friendly products on a mass scale across Canada. From soy-based ink to recycled construction paper and a promise to plant trees, Greenre recently got its stationery products on the shelves of major retailers across the country.

"We're doing a lot of really neat things to educate and engage and we're really excited because I think the time is now to make these big changes," Loiselle said.

Loiselle, who has three children, said it's "unbelievable" how much plastic waste comes from children's products including toys, colouring books and other stationery materials.

"I just felt that it was time to do something, and I could do something, and the stars aligned where I had an opportunity and I could take the easy path or the hard path," he said.

Since opening in March 2020, the company has faced significant hurdles, including a worldwide pandemic and supply chain issues following unprecedented flooding in British Columbia.

Jean Delisle/CBC
Jean Delisle/CBC

The challenges of eco-friendly

Business everywhere suffered, but Guy Souliere, co-founder of SEAlliance, said starting and operating an eco-friendly business is challenging on its own, even without pandemics and floods.

SEAlliance is an Ottawa non-profit that works with small business owners to help them become more sustainable.

"Being a small business, and we're talking under 20 employees or less, we just don't have time and money, you know, having a person just designated to manage this transition," Souliere said, adding the process is confusing.

Now, SEAlliance is working on creating a resource kit for Ottawa business on how to start or make the transition to becoming more sustainable.

Jean Delisle/CBC
Jean Delisle/CBC

The going-green movement has been gaining traction among big companies for years, and Greenre's environmentally conscious products got the attention of major retail partners including Disney. Loiselle said deals were signed to bring Greenre's products right to the centre of major retailers, using these big brands as leaders.

He is confident despite the challenges, the company will see "unprecedented carbon offsetting effects" through its tree-planting initiative.

For every tree saved using recycled material, Greenre will plant three more.

Loiselle said his team of six employees is already in talks with retailers in the United States and Australia to grow further.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting