Make The World Better Magazine, Issue 1

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FEATURING INTERVIEWS WITH: Plan International Canada • Salt Spring Coffee • Big Brothers of Vancouver • Raising the Roof • ShareWares • QMUNITY • Heal Mary From global gender equality to taking out single-use takeout containers, meet the individuals and organizations who are ushering in a new and better world Better Together Sep 2021, Issue 01 M AGAZINE LEARN HOW SPARX PUBLISHING GROUP USES THE POWER OF "BETTER" TO AMPLIFY GOOD

Words can spark change.

Words can spark connection.

Words are more than just content.

Words can change the world.

Are you working to change the world? We can help tell your story. Contact us at:

Visit our website to find out how Sparx Publishing Group makes the world better, and stay up to date on our latest partnerships and initiatives. Plus, get in touch for future projects:




The person featured on the cover is Shalini, a girls’ rights activist from India and youth volunteer with Plan International since 2010. Shalini works to end child marriage, and has prevented over a dozen child marriages in her community.

Advancing children’s rights and equality for girls, one campaign at a time 16
Serving customers a good cup of Joe they can feel good about 32
A company that stays in the environmental loop with closed-loop reuse services 38
Improving the lives of queer, trans, and Two-Spirit people in British Columbia CONTENTS 6
Letter from the Editor
Making The World Better: How Small Efforts Can Spark Big Impact
What You Need to Know About Sustainable Business Practices


Finding a better way to connect people and clinical trials is just the beginning


Sparx would like to acknowledge that Vancouver is on traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples–Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

September 2021, Issue 1


Sparx Publishing Group Inc.


Hamish Khamisa


Nikki Manthey Libby Shabada


Elisabeth Choi

DESIGNER Pauline Macapagal

PROJECT MANAGER Alexandra Nikitina


Plan International Canada Nashrah Baqi, Specialist, Content & Editorial

Salt Spring Coffee Veronica Meas, Digital Marketing Specialist Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver

Mandy Wong, Manager, Development and Marketing Raising The Roof Leslie Bellingham, Director of Resource Development and Communications


Cody Irwin, CEO


Tamara Touma, Visual Communications Designer Heal Mary Cassandra Hui, Founder/CEO

All photo credits to the organizations.

For advertising rates and placements, please contact us at

We are recognized as a minority-owned and -led organization

This issue of the magazine contributes to the following sustainability development goals:

BIG BROTHERS OF VANCOUVER Mentorship is the key to empowering youth to reach their full potential
Preventing homelessness at a national scale is more than putting roofs over heads
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Letter from the Editor

With a name like Sparx, it might not surprise you that we have a fondness for sparking interesting beginnings.

The origin story of Make The World Better Magazine, a publication that we are launching to feature individuals and organizations that have taken the courageous leap to create a better world, arose as an extension of the Make The World Better program at Sparx Publishing Group.

Every year on September 30, Sparx holds Make The World Better Day. The date holds a special significance to me, the founder of Sparx Publishing Group, because it is the anniversary of the date on which my first daughter, Anahera (whose name means Angel in Māori), was stillborn at 35 weeks. As parents can attest to, children are our greatest teachers, and one of the many lessons I have learned from my children is the power of courage.

It takes courage, and perhaps even a little audacity, to not only dream of the future, but also work to turn it into reality. My hope in launching this magazine is that by seeing and learning about the good that others are doing, readers will be inspired to find ways, big or small, to make the world better as well.

Whether it’s helping tackle homelessness across Canada, providing mentorship to youth, or changing the world one cup of coffee at a time, the diverse selection of stories featured here share a common element: the founders saw an opportunity to improve the world and had the courage to take it upon themselves to do it. It is especially fascinating to see the mix of organizations, some with decades of experience across multiple countries, and others with global ambitions that are just getting started, all of them operating in Canada.

When we first thought about how we could make the world better, we did not know it would lead us to this zine format. And yet, I couldn’t be prouder of the team at Sparx for bringing this publication to life. The sheer scope of making the world better can certainly seem daunting, but at our core, we believe that even a little spark can set an enormous and lasting impact into motion. But, you have to have the courage to try, and the resilience to try again.

As it turns out, the origin of the word courage comes from the Latin, cor, for heart. Among the various interpretations of its meaning, one that I particularly like refers to being able to tell your story with your whole heart.

The Sparx blog is your source for helpful purpose-driven marketing tips, news about organizations who are making the world better, and more! Head over to the blog now for impactful and interesting articles:

I want to wholeheartedly thank the courageous contributors for the work they’re doing and for trusting us to tell their stories in this first edition of Make The World Better Magazine. I hope that by sharing these stories, we inspire our readers to spark their own interesting beginnings.

We believe that even a little spark sets an enormous and lasting impact into motion.

(Your Organization Here)


Are you part of an organization that’s working to make the world better?

Share your story in a future issue of our magazine! Join our mission to amplify good, boost awareness of critical issues, and inspire others.

To be featured, get in touch with us here:

featured in Make The World Better Magazine

Making The World Better: How Small Efforts Can Spark Big Impact

How Sparx Publishing Group took the mission of “content to make the world better” and put it into action in small but meaningful ways

At Sparx Publishing Group, we create content to make the world better. Beyond the work we do with our clients, we explore tangible and direct ways of improving the world around us.

We’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way and reaffirmed a cornerstone of our worldview: that if you look for opportunities to do better, you will find them.

Make The World Better

Sparx launched the first edition of Make The World Better Day on September 30, 2020. The founder of Sparx Publishing Group, Hamish Khamisa, wanted to honour his daughter, Anahera, who was stillborn at 35 weeks.

The love and hope that Anahera embodied were the sparks that set in motion a challenge to transform tragedy

into inspiration. Drawing on that, Make The World Better Day is a testament to the belief that a spark, no matter how small, can ignite positive change.

At first, we weren’t sure how to go about making the world better, but we believed that starting anywhere was better than waiting to find the “perfect” somewhere to begin.

As marketers, we also realized we could not only do good, but our skillset is uniquely qualified to amplify good. Starting with a blank canvas, we decided to set aside one full workday for everyone at the company to stop working on their usual tasks and instead participate in activities that would amplify good.

In order to leverage our diverse skill sets, we had every team member submit ideas of what “better” meant to them and nominate causes or organizations that they felt were in line with their personal view of “better.”


A Cleaner Planet Is a Better Planet

Our first step was to choose a local organization to provide our marketing expertise to. Sea Smart, a charitable organization headquartered in Vancouver, educates and engages children in connecting with the oceanic world to inspire and empower children to care for the planet.

After workshopping with Sea Smart, we launched an awareness campaign, which consisted of display ads that we designed and distributed through the Sparx Publishing Advertising Network (SPAN), our in-house advertising network.

We were able to deliver over 100,000 impressions to British Columbians visiting a major Canadian financial website, enabling thousands of individuals to learn about Sea Smart and their mission.

Depending on the outcome of our experience with Kiva, we will evaluate how we go forward on the platform and decide alternative avenues for supporting initiatives. The last thing we want to do is to perpetuate a cycle of debt burden that would ultimately prevent locals from creating a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Inspiring Us To Do Better

Our first Make The World Better Day was a success in that it demonstrated it’s possible for us to approach improving the world by leveraging our strengths as a creative agency.

Arguably, the bigger achievement was the shift in mindset that started to occur within our organization to look for even more opportunities. For example, we started a team for Movember, a global public health initiative in November that raises awareness of men’s health issues, and raised almost $500.

Holiday Season: Gifting Turned Into Giving

During the holiday season, Sparx traditionally sends gifts to clients as a way to thank them and celebrate the holiday season. Inspired by our Make The World Better mindset, however, we decided that in lieu of gifts of items or treats, we would donate funds to causes and organizations that matter to our clients.

Kiva Projects: Small Loans, Big Lessons

As part of Make The World Better Day, we also wanted to invest in individuals and organizations that are doing essential work in their own local communities. We chose Kiva as an avenue for that investment because it’s easy-touse, and enables us to connect capital to local initiatives across the world.

Many of the groups represented on Kiva are working to improve local autonomy through food security, infrastructure improvements, and education.

After learning about the sometimes high borrowing costs of certain loans to individuals seeking support from Kiva, we ventured forward with a $500 investment in a woman-led business in Congo.

Through a series of client- and donor-matching programs, we were able to jointly donate a total of 5,000 meals to various local food banks across Canada and the US. In addition, we were able to amplify donations to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and a local humane society in Florida.

Our efforts enabled us to gather momentum and attract others into purpose-driven work – not just in our official Make The World Better projects, but also in other spontaneous initiatives that have had a real impact.

Each day, we intentionally look for opportunities to weave in the spirit that Make The World Better Day was founded on, and direct our creative energy toward moments where we can amplify positive impact. In that way, we believe that we will be content to make the world better.

“Make The World Better Day is a testament to the belief that a spark, no matter how small, can ignite positive change.”

Welcome to Better

Introducing individuals and organizations who are making the world better, one cup, cap, campaign, and connection at a time


Welcome to the first issue of Make The World Better Magazine! We’re on a mission to amplify good, which means we’re thrilled to feature a diverse range of organizations in these pages who are all working towards a common goal: to make the world better.

Read on to learn how these incredible companies are advancing children’s rights and equality for girls, serving up a more ethical cup of coffee, empowering youth to meet their full potential, combating homelessness on a national scale, kicking single-use takeout food containers to the curb, improving lives in the LGBTQIA2S+ community, and connecting people with essential information on clinical trials.

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Shalini, 21, looking at the camera, is advocating for the end of child marriage in Uttar Pradesh
Advancing children’s rights and equality for girls, one campaign at a time

As children, we’re told we can be anything, from astronauts to Hollywood movie stars. Unfortunately, for many kids (especially girls) around the world, their dream is basic rights and opportunities.

Plan International Canada works to remove barriers so children in underdeveloped countries can live out their potential. We chatted with Plan International Canada about their mission and what makes this organization unique.

Tell us about Plan International Canada’s mission.

Plan International Canada works for and with children, community members, and governments so that all children around the world can exercise their rights. We do this by focusing on eight core areas, with gender equality as a foundational objective.

Our work seeks to tackle the root causes of gender inequality and remove barriers that keep children, especially girls, from reaching their full potential.

Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan International has been building powerful

partnerships for children for over 80 years and is now active in more than 75 countries.

What inspired your founders to start Plan International Canada?

In 1937, British journalist John Langdon-Davies founded what was originally known as Foster Parents Plan for Children in Spain to help children whose lives were disrupted by the Spanish Civil War. By 1938, 300 Spanish children were sponsored by Plan International. The following year, Eleanor Roosevelt became a sponsor, continuing to support the organization for many years.

Plan International marked its 60th anniversary in 1990 by reaching an incredible milestone: supporting its one millionth sponsored child, a young girl from Mali. By 1999, the number of Plan-sponsored children grew to over 1.2 million children.

A decade later, Plan International began highlighting the unique challenges faced by girls in low-income countries, launching our Because I am a Girl initiative in Canada to promote gender equality in the countries where we work.

Plan International celebrated its 84th anniversary in 2021, marking our continued commitment to children’s rights around the world.

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

Plan International Canada has over 80 years of experience in international development and humanitarian response, and remains

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committed to children’s rights and equality for girls as the world navigates and responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis has affected people across the globe and has become a challenge in the humanitarian world. Primary health impacts have been grave, and associated lockdowns and disruptions have led to additional (secondary) impacts.

The pandemic has caused unprecedented hardship for people around the globe, but for girls in crisis, it’s done more than just set them back. It’s unravelling decades of progress. Thirteen million girls are at risk of becoming brides, two million girls are at risk of experiencing female genital mutilation, and millions are at risk of never returning to school once they reopen.

Through its global response, Plan International has been assessing the extent and severity of the secondary impacts of this crisis on women and children, especially girls, since March 2020.

We are constantly working to ensure that progress is not reverted in terms of children and girls getting their rights.

What do you consider Plan International’s biggest success? Plan International’s gender transformative approach to international development and, increasingly, our work during emergencies aspires

Millions of girls around the world are in crisis. Their futures are already written for them, as they experience the tragedies of child marriage, no education, sexual violence and exploitation. Together we can Stop The Setback by helping girls rewrite their futures for the better. As we move into the fourth phase of our global fundraising campaign, we aim to raise awareness of the work Plan International does and drive donations to help us support the world’s most vulnerable girls and provide them with the support they need to fulfil their potential.

to support women, girls, men, and boys in all their diversity to change this reality.

Through Plan International Canada’s ambitious 20 Million Reasons Campaign, we’ve reached 18.4 million children around the world – over halfway to our target of improving the lives of 20 million children by 2022.

How do you feel Plan International Canada makes the world better?

Plan International Canada knows achieving the Sustainable Development Goals ambition of “leaving no one behind” requires transformative change. We confront and challenge discrimination and human rights violations based on gender.

All of our work – programming or advocacy – tackles the root causes of gender inequality and helps reshape unequal power relations. It focuses not only on providing equal opportunities and outcomes for all, but on removing


the barriers that keep girls and women from achieving their full potential and exercising their rights.

Our focus is to meet and grow our commitments to children, as well as the more than 86,000 communities we work with over the long term.

Plan International Canada has developed a comprehensive girl/woman centric index – the Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment Index – that measures changes in the root causes of gender inequality and captures the breadth and scope of gender transformative change.

A gender equality approach is about understanding these relative differences and intersecting identities, appreciating that they are not rigid and can be changed. It is important to keep these differences and intersecting identities in mind when designing strategies, policies, programs, and services.

Ultimately, promoting gender equality means transforming the power relations between women and men, girls and boys, and individuals with different gender identities in order to create a more just society for everyone.

Tell us about your organization’s goals.

We strive for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. We engage people and partners to empower children, young people, and communities to make vital changes that assist girls in accessing their rights.

We want to fulfil the promise of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal. Plan International Canada’s strategy is to work through our 20 Million Reasons Campaign, which intends to improve the lives of 20 million children, especially girls, by 2022 so that they can learn, lead, decide, and thrive.

Within the strategy, we also have an ambition to transform the lives of 100 million girls. Child sponsorship and grassroots community work are central to our strategy and achieving this ambition.

How can people help or contribute to Plan International’s mission?

Every day, millions of girls around the world are denied their basic human rights simply because they’re girls.

Through initiatives such as Because I am a Girl and the Child Sponsorship program, Plan International is working to advance girls’ rights by helping them unleash their inherent power and potential. The contributions support girls in championing change in their communities by helping them access their right to education, healthcare, and clean water.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed and magnified injustices around the world – especially for those most vulnerable. Through the Stop the Setback Campaign, Plan International is working to ensure girls have access to the supports they need to powerfully claim their right to a safe, healthy life, and a path of their choosing.

Visit for more information and follow @plancanada on social media to #StopTheSetback. tel: 1.800.387.1418

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Serving customers a good cup of Joe they can feel good about

Did you know that Canada is one of the top global consumers of coffee? Canadians love our coffee; it’s one of our simple pleasures. The only thing better would be saving the world as we drink it.

Salt Spring Coffee set out on a mission to do just that: use coffee to be a force for good. We chatted with Digital Marketing Specialist Veronica Meas about Salt Spring Coffee’s goals, and what makes this company unique.

Tell us about Salt Spring Coffee’s mission.

Our mission is to change the world for the better through coffee. Salt Spring Coffee wants to use coffee as the vehicle to be a force of good. Coffee allows us to make a positive impact along our supply chain, which includes communities from where we source our coffee all the way to our staff, our customers, and our community.

What inspired your founders to start Salt Spring Coffee?

Inspired by the Salt Spring Island way of life, founders Mickey McLeod and Robbyn Scott embarked on a journey to bring sustainable coffee to their community.

In their quest for coffee that was environmentally friendly and fair to farmers, they built long-term partnerships with producers to source organic, shade-grown, fair trade coffee.

What do you consider Salt Spring Coffee’s biggest success?

Salt Spring Coffee’s greatest success is setting high standards from the beginning so we can provide access to coffee that is traded fairly and grown sustainably.

For us, success isn’t based solely on profit, but also purpose – we will never compromise people, the environment, or quality for the sake of generating more profit.

What makes your organization unique?

Salt Spring Coffee was a trailblazer and among the first coffee companies in Canada to offer organic, fair trade coffee.

What makes us unique is that not only are we organic and Fair Trade Certified, we are also


a certified B Corp. While organic and fair trade certifications verify our products, B Corp certification verifies our practices and impact on people and the environment. It’s a third-party audit that helps us measure and constantly improve our social and environmental impact.

How do you feel Salt Spring Coffee makes the world better?

Salt Spring Coffee sources organic, shade-grown coffee. This means that instead of clear cutting forests to grow coffee in an industrial fashion, coffee is grown in its natural environment under tree canopies.

Shade-grown coffee preserves natural biodiversity, protects the ecosystem, and helps prevent soil erosion. Better soil quality means that coffee can be grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Salt Spring Coffee is also Fair Trade and Fair For Life certified. This means that producers are paid a fair price plus an additional premium on top of the cost of coffee that goes toward the producer’s community. Additionally, Fair Trade also ensures fair working conditions that are free from discrimination, child labour, and forced labour.

Salt Spring Coffee is proof that businesses can be successful while making business decisions that are better for people and the planet.

Tell us about your organization’s goals.

Our goal is to make sustainable, fair trade coffee available to everyone. We currently offer whole bean and ground coffee, but we know that customers also enjoy other methods of brewing, such as using pods.

We will continue to develop our offerings to include additional formats so that sustainable, fair trade coffee is available to all coffee drinkers.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

We’re working on a plan to invest in energy efficient equipment that will help us significantly decrease our greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, we participate in a waste diversion program that tracks our weekly waste diversion. We are putting together a plan to help us get to Zero Waste by 2026.

What do you most want people to know about Salt Spring Coffee?

Twenty-five years later, Salt Spring Coffee is still family-owned and operated, and our aspiration remains the same: To be change makers through coffee – doing our part to make the world a better place.

How can people help or contribute to Salt Spring Coffee’s mission?

People can help with Salt Spring Coffee’s mission by supporting organic, fair trade, and B Corp companies. By supporting these companies, people have the power to show businesses that they want to buy from brands that care about more than just the bottom line. It can help create a world where every business has a positive impact on the people and the environment. tel: 1.800.332.8858

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It’s a journey. Making and impactful changes, on successes, and

keep Nikki Manthey Lead Copywriter Sparx Publishing Group 18 MAKE THE WORLD BETTER MAGAZINE
mistakes to

Making positive changes, building and learning from keep improving.

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Mentorship is the key to empowering youth to reach their full potential

A mentor in a child’s life can not only encourage them to reach their full potential, but also create a positive impact in their community. However, for disadvantaged youth, mentors are not always easy to come by.

Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver draws on the 100-year-old ethos of now-international organization Big Brothers, connecting children and youth with mentors in the Greater Vancouver area. We chatted with Development and Marketing Manager Mandy Wong about Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver’s history, mission, and goals.

Tell us about Big Brothers’ mission. At Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver, our mission is to enable impactful mentoring relationships where children and youth can discover their power and potential, in collaboration with our local communities. Our vision is that all children and youth are empowered to reach their full potential through mentorship.

What inspired your founders to start Big Brothers?

On July 4, 1903, a Cincinnati businessman named Irvin F. Westheimer started a movement that would grow to affect millions of lives around the world through child and youth mentoring.

When the young professional saw a boy rooting through a garbage can, he took him under his wing and became his “big brother.” He encouraged his friends to do the same with other boys and young men from father-absent homes. Before long, the Big Brothers movement was born.

Fast forward ten years to a growing delinquency rate in Toronto and the need for an innovative solution. Several businessmen became aware of what was happening in the United States to combat the same problem, and after seeing the positive effect the program had for our neighbours to the south, Big Brothers came to Canada.

Four decades later on March 8, 1957, five businessmen met in the boardroom of a bakery at the corner of Boundary and Kingsway for the first meeting of Big Brothers of British Columbia.

With a strong desire to support the children and youth in the Lower Mainland, founding board members Cecil S. Walker and well-known men’s clothier, Murray Goldman, got involved with Big Brothers shortly after the mentoring

movement came out west. Goldman was introduced to the idea when one of his clients, former Executive Director Donald Waring, joked that he would agree to buy a suit from him in exchange for his participation.

Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver was established in 1978. We now run our strength-based mentoring programs in Burnaby, Delta, Surrey, New Westminster, the North Shore, Richmond, the Tri-Cities, and Vancouver. We have a broad service area for a diverse group of individuals. Today, young people who need a mentor come from all walks of life.

Although the Big Brothers movement was born out of a need to combat a growing delinquency rate, our mentoring programs now serve a much broader purpose. The notion of our strength-based mentoring programs remains the same, but the driving force behind the concept has evolved.

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We recognize that the mentor-mentee relationship is a shared, meaningful experience for both the child and the volunteer. Everyday experiences mean big impacts for the child, the volunteer, and the community at large.

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an immeasurable impact on the lives of the young people that we support. A breakdown of usual routines, schooling, social opportunities, and many other activities has had a profound effect on so many children, the effects of which we likely won’t fully understand for some time.

At the same time, health and safety guidelines drastically impacted our ability to deliver most of our programs, with some switching to virtual delivery, while others were postponed. As a result, we faced huge obstacles to provide young people in Greater Vancouver with programming and support, just when they needed it the most.

Funding for the programs became unpredictable with economical impact around the world, and at one point, we weren’t sure if we would be able to keep our agency going.

Other than volunteers, our agency is in need of funding to maintain our programs so we can serve as many children and young people as we can through mentorship.

What do you consider Big Brothers’ biggest success?

Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver has been serving local communities for over 40 years. Our teams and mentoring coordinators are trained to serve longterm friendships and provide guidance on mentorship. We believe the knowledge and history we have at Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver has led to our success.

What makes your organization unique, and how do you feel Big Brothers makes the world better?

Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver believes that when our children are emotionally, socially, and physically healthy, everyone in the community benefits. With over 40 years of serving Greater Vancouver communities, we have worked with numerous community stakeholders to develop a variety of essential mentorship programs to meet the needs of children and families.

We believe that by providing a mentor to young lives, we will in turn encourage them to live to their full potential and contribute to a better community’s future. We strive for innovative ways of mentoring that meet the changing needs of our children, families, and communities, while maintaining the highest standards of program delivery.

We are committed to the values of diversity and inclusion. We respect and welcome participation of all individuals. We believe that the diversity of our


volunteers, families, and staff allows us to collectively strengthen our organization to intentionally support the communities we serve.

Every child referred to us comes on the basis that they will benefit substantially by forming a continuing bond with a caring mentor. Many children we serve are from low income, single parent households or from struggling families lacking positive role models.

The presence of a reliable, caring mentor provides support for the families as well as their children, and in many cases, connects the family with opportunities they would not otherwise have.

In addition, children from new immigrant and refugee families experience considerable isolation and stress due to cultural issues and limited language skills.

Our strength-based mentoring programs build the self-confidence and capacities of children so that they can develop healthy lifestyles, make informed and responsible decisions, and participate to the greatest extent possible in the social and economic fabric of society.

Tell us about your organization’s goals.

Every year, we aim to serve as many children and young people as we can through our mentorship programs. We hope to serve over 1,000 mentees in our next fiscal year.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share, and what do you most want people to know about Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver?

The Big Brother mentoring program is what we’re most well known for at Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver, and we are always in need of Big Brother volunteers. The program provides boys with a role model and a friend to talk to and share the experiences of growing up with.

Through regular outings of two to four hours, once a week, for a minimum of one year, a friendship is developed between the Big and Little Brother that is built on trust, and common interests and values.

Furthermore, the result is an impactful experience for both the mentor and the mentee.

We’re currently offering this program virtually through Zoom, or in-person, subject to provincial social guidelines.

Other than the Big Brother program, we also have other programs that support children and youth in Greater Vancouver communities. We are always in constant need for volunteers/Big Buddies to support our site-based programs and opportunities, which can be found at

How can people help or contribute to Big Brothers’ mission?

If you would like to support Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver, consider volunteering to become a mentor or donate to support our mentorship programs. We have a waiting list of mentees waiting to be watched with a Big Brother or Big Buddy – with your help, we would be able to make that wait time even shorter. In some areas of Vancouver, children and young people are waiting two to three years to be matched with a mentor.

If you would like to volunteer and learn about our programs, please visit our website at https://

To donate and support our mentorship programs, please visit us at tel: 604.876.2447

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Always aiming running farther, never staying


aiming higher, farther, and staying stagnant.

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Preventing homelessness at a national scale is more than putting roofs over heads

The cycle of poverty can be difficult to break. It’s not just about being homeless, though that’s a major consideration. It’s also about being able to enter or re-enter the workforce, and having the skills to do so.

Raising the Roof considers the full picture of homelessness and comes up with concrete, long-term solutions with proven results. We chatted with Director of Resource Development and Communications Leslie Bellingham about Raising the Roof.


Tell us about Raising the Roof’s mission.

Raising the Roof provides national leadership on long-term solutions to homelessness through partnership and collaboration with diverse stakeholders, investment in local communities, and public education.

Our vision is for all Canadians to have access to a safe, stable home and the support they need to achieve their potential.

What inspired your founders to start Raising the Roof?

Raising the Roof was launched in 1996 by members of the Canadian Non-Profit Housing Foundation. The goal was to create a national charity dedicated to finding long-term solutions to homelessness. After receiving a grant from the McConnell Foundation, our team set up shop in an old warehouse in Toronto’s east end.

Raising the Roof launched its first major fundraising campaign to help the homeless. Based in Toronto, the campaign featured a week of comedy events, public education activities, and a gala featuring entertainers. The shows, which later expanded to Halifax and Vancouver, continued to raise funds and awareness for the next 15 years.

In addition, the campaign raised enough money to benefit the Toronto homeless community, help us expand across the country, and introduce our now-famous Toque Tuesday, where toque hats were sold throughout Toronto.

Over the years, Raising the Roof has initiated several high impact public education campaigns and research projects which are informing national policy today, as well as several innovative pilot projects.

Today, we have completed two housing projects in our Reside program, resulting in vacant properties being transformed into homes for people at risk of homelessness, and training people with significant barriers to employment to go on to futures in construction.

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

Raising the Roof has always been about homelessness prevention, which includes our own research and pilot projects. There have been challenges associated with researching the causes of homelessness and ways to prevent it, as well as piloting new, untested, innovative prevention measures.

We have also been an organization that brings together diverse people, organizations, and

stakeholders. This has had its own set of challenges, especially as a national organization, learning about unique geographic, cultural, social, and demographic issues across the country.

In every community we are a part of, we have prioritized listening to the local community members who know the needs and resources available in that community.

COVID-19 has also produced some challenges. One way was that the funds raised for the homelessness prevention initiatives were mainly raised through in-person events pre-COVID, so we needed to pivot.

We are looking to reinstate many of these events in a modified fashion this year, but we have also added new distribution channels for our toque sales, distribution through Home Depot stores Canada-wide this coming Toque Campaign.

What do you consider Raising the Roof’s biggest success?

While we’re very proud of our pilot programs and research, our biggest success is our Reside program. The initial projects proved to be so effective, we put all of our resources toward it and have helped end the cycle of poverty for trainees, teaching them hands-on skills and compensating them for their work.

Eighty-five percent of the 147 trainees have obtained permanent full-time employment in the trades after completion of the program.

Raising the Roof not only provides job opportunities, but support for trainees, including mental health counselling, parenting classes, social workers assistance, and financial management courses.

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Past Reside program trainee, Edward, has a stable, way-paying career in construction, says his mental health and housing security has improved, and he’s saving to purchase a home.

In terms of the housing projects that the Reside program works on, one of our most recent successes was a renovation that is now currently rented to two young Black women who were previously living in a temporary, emergency youth shelter. Because of the quiet, space and stability, the women are able to pursue their educational goals.

Not only that, the project created 6,000 hours of paid training and saw nearly 87% of trainees go on to unionized apprenticeship programs or full time careers in the construction sector.

What makes your organization unique?

Raising the Roof is unique in that we are concerned primarily with prevention and long-term solutions to homelessness at a national scale. With our Reside program, we are implementing a holistic solution that not only meets immediate needs, but addresses important root causes of homelessness.

Because we have an existing national network of agencies that we support through our Toque Campaign, we are in a unique position to be able to implement the Reside program across the country.

How do you feel Raising the Roof makes the world better?

Raising the Roof makes the world better by connecting people and organizations through projects

that solve complex social issues in a holistic manner. The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness has estimated the average cost of an emergency shelter bed is $1,932 per month.

Over 20 years, the cost of one shelter bed would be $463,680. One of our next projects (in Winnipeg), will be creating 10 beds. By investing in this issue now, Canada can save millions of dollars by tackling the issue at the root cause, while also preventing homelessness through careers in the trades.

Tell us about your organization’s goals.

In 2016, there were 1.34 million empty and temporarily occupied homes in Canada. At the same time, 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness each year. This presents an enormous opportunity for housing and hands-on training for thousands of people at risk of homelessness.

There is also an opportunity for green buildings, improving skills training of trainees, and ensuring long-term sustainability and affordability of the homes. We work with sustainability consultants to implement innovative GHG emission reduction measures that greatly exceed National Energy Code for Buildings efficiency standards, commission detailed energy models, and implement leading edge efficiency technologies.

We plan to take our Reside program and expand it to new communities across Canada. With projects located in six cities across three provinces, we have the potential to provide housing stability, income stability, and family support to over 450 people. With the projects we have in the current pipeline, we create sustainable, affordable housing for over 50 families and training opportunities for over 300 people.

Winnipeg Project

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

Here are three of our upcoming projects:


• Housing: Renovation of a vacant property into three affordable homes made available to Indigenous families who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness, and youth aging out of care. North End Community Renewal Corporation and FearlessR2W (an Indigenous organization dedicated to keeping families together and children out of care) will provide property management and individualized, ongoing wraparound support to the tenants.

• Employment: More than 35 people with barriers to employment, mainly Indigenous people, but also newcomers to Canada, people with disabilities, previous incarceration and other barriers, will be employed by Purpose Construction.

• Timeline: Construction to begin in December 2021 with the goal of completing training and achieving occupancy by September 2022.


• Housing: Forty residential units, including 24+ units made available at affordable rates, specifically for women and children fleeing domestic violence, in cooperation with the Lighthouse and Redwood Park Communities.

• Employment: More than 70 people with barriers to employment will gain hands-on training and employment opportunities by finishing units and providing general labour support through the Community Builders Construction Training Program.

• Timeline: Construction to begin in November 2022 and first tenant occupancy by October 2023.


• Housing: Renovation of five vacant single-family houses into 10+ units of affordable housing,

with supports for 25+ individuals and families experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness.

• Employment: Projects will help launch a new social enterprise contractor, Community Builders North. Through the renovation of these five properties, 30+ people with barriers to employment, mainly youth under 25, many of whom are Indigenous, will receive hands-on training, wraparound support, and connection to local employers.

• Timeline: Construction to begin in December 2021 with the goal of completing training and achieving occupancy at the first property by August 2022, and achieving occupancy at the fifth property by December 2024.

What do you most want people to know about Raising the Roof?

That we are focused on prevention and long-term solutions for homelessness. Our famous Toque Campaign supports local homelessness prevention initiatives and our national Reside program.

How can people help or contribute to Raising the Roof’s mission?

Buy a toque! They are sold on our website at or in Home Depot stores starting in November. Alternatively, you can help identify vacant properties that would be suitable for affordable housing or connect us with local potential partners.

You could also organize a toque sales event, connect us with potential places to sell toques in your community, or participate in a Community Build Day. Community Build Days are fun team-building volunteer days that help us raise funds for future Reside projects. tel: 416.481.1838

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Making the more accepting inclusive place you initially


the world a accepting and place than initially found it.

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A company that stays in the environmental loop with closed-loop reuse services
Festival cup with ShareWares logo and QR code used to track reusables

Getting take-out from our favourite restaurants has been a convenient advent of modern dining, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, environmental considerations are often sacrificed with the single-use package waste of these take-out meals.

ShareWares tackles this problem head-on by taking single-use package waste out of the equation. We chatted with CEO Cody Irwin about ShareWares’ mission and goals, and what makes this company unique.

Tell us about ShareWares’ mission. We supply, collect, and sanitize reusable packaging for Vancouver businesses. Our closed-loop reuse services help businesses make sustainable buying decisions by replacing single-use products with reusables.

We care about the environment and people, and we believe working together as a community is the key to creating an extraordinary positive impact.

Our mission is to keep plastic pollution out of our oceans and terrestrial habitats by disrupting the single-use status quo. We are working hard to end the global plastic waste crisis by developing an innovative platform that offers businesses and cities the most convenient and easily adoptable reusable packaging solution.

What inspired you to start ShareWares?

ShareWares is a phoenix born out of the “fires” of the pandemic. Our pre-COVID-19 business, Natural Source, which helped companies manage their in-office kitchen programs, took a nosedive when offices closed. We dropped 98% in four days. However, as devastating as this was, it turned out to be an opportunity of a lifetime!

We pivoted hard and took a deep dive into the circular economy. The “take,” “make,” “waste” linear economy is unsustainable, and a transition to circularity is the only way to ensure we don’t deplete all our resources and destroy our planet.

With the absolute best team of humans we could ever wish to work with and the support of the Canadian government’s emergency COVID-19 subsidies to keep us in business, we were able to create a game-changing business that has the potential for global environmental and social impact.

Washing coffee cups in our Vancouver Coastal Health approved washing facility

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

The plastic pollution crisis is very real and very big. We feel privileged to be able to work on one of the most challenging topics the world is facing. Like with any startup carving out a new industry, there are loads of challenges and obstacles, but we think it would be most helpful to highlight just one.

Circular economy policies and funding in Canada are not a priority (yet) for the federal government when compared to what’s happening in Northern European countries.

The awareness and support from all levels of government are critical for new circular businesses to start and scale up, as well as to incentivize existing businesses and the community to make more sustainable choices.

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Right: our reusable coffee cup with our promo sticker on it. Bottom: filling a reusable coffee cup in an office

What do you consider ShareWares’ biggest success?

Our biggest success to date as an organization was to stay resilient, adapt, see opportunity, and launch an innovative new business during the pandemic.

We achieved this with the help of a wonderfully supportive team that we are so grateful for, COVID subsidies (thank you, Canada!), and the amazing team at the Vancouver Mural Festival who were excited to offer ShareWares’ reusable cups at their 30+ events in August. We are very excited for the months to come as we launch reusables for more businesses and industries.

What makes your organization unique?

What makes ShareWares truly unique is that we didn’t have to start at zero. Since we were pivoting an existing business, we didn’t have to spend years building a team, finding a facility, buying vehicles, onboarding software, and pretty much everything

else required to build the infrastructure for a scaled business. We were so fortunate to jump right into the fun stuff that will allow us to really accelerate out of the pandemic.

What is this “fun stuff?” It includes sourcing and testing existing reusables, designing new reusable products, developing relationships with other local circular businesses, forming local infrastructure partnerships to help with quick future growth, building out multiple revenue streams, building a washing facility dedicated to reusables, and working with brilliant BCIT students to build a guide for creating high-value, fulfilling jobs for people with barriers to employment. That’s just some of the fun stuff we have been getting up to this past year.

How do you feel ShareWares makes the world better?

ShareWares, along with many circular businesses, will make the world better through the power of the circular economy.

Circularity empowers businesses and communities to achieve truly exceptional environmental and social progress through avenues such as fortifying local economies, influencing producers locally and abroad, creating inclusive, high-value, fulfilling jobs, and creating resilient economies. We are extremely excited to get out there and fight in this revolution.

One exercise I did that I thought was really insightful was mapping the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on ShareWares’ value chain at a scale. Through the power of the circular economy we can address 16 of the 17 SDGs. I think that is pretty darn cool.

Our countertop display for coffee shops to briefly explain the process and showcase the cup


Tell us about your organization’s goals.

Well, circularity is uncharted waters and a virtually untapped market, so my brain goes wild with all the opportunities and areas ShareWares can play in to create impact.

That being said, our main goal is to build an advanced automated washing facility to act as a new utility for future circular cities. This facility will not only wash and sanitize the wares we supply, but will also support other business so we can achieve a capacity of rapidly processing over one million units each day.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time hand washing dishes at my dad’s guest ranch, and I would have been shocked to see my future self so excited for a career in dishwashing. It’s funny to say that I don’t think you will ever find someone more pumped to wash your dishes.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

We are jazzed to work on several fun projects, but things are quite dynamic now, so we aren’t sure which ones will get the green light. I guess all I can say is that we hope you all “stay tuned,” as there are many exciting projects coming down the pipeline!

What do you most want people to know about ShareWares?

I believe we are on to something really big, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

The pandemic has set the stage for a transition to a circular economy, as people are noticing and becoming aware of the excessive single-use garbage generated over the course of the pandemic.

Our current trajectory isn’t sustainable, and now is an ideal time to reevaluate and reset. Humanity has all the technology and expertise to make this happen, and ShareWares is so fortunate to be at the cutting edge.

We have discussed our plans with numerous experts from dozens of industries, and so far, we haven’t had any doubters. We even got a “you are blowing my mind,” which was super nice to hear.

We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but in theory, we have modeled the game-changer that could expedite a transition to large-scale citywide reuse programs. Fingers crossed!

We have a robust backend tech platform with a simple user app for convenience finding locations that offer reusables, return methods, and for refunding deposits

How can people help or contribute to ShareWares’ mission?

Rebel. Rebel against single-use. Rebel with any reuse and circular business you can find. Use your hard-earned cash to make purchasing decisions to influence retailers, manufacturers, governments, and the people around you to go reusable.

The current recycling and compost systems for packaging that have been in development for decades are not getting us close to where we need to be for a sustainable future. A transition to reuse is an immediate and effective way to make leaps in waste diversion and climate change.

Remember, none of this is your fault. Humanity got caught in a runaway train of convenience. The good news is that now we see how bad it has gotten, we know we need to fix it, and there is a solution.

Technology can make reuse convenient so let’s get going! Help your community and your planet by rebelling against the system that is designed to offer you only unsustainable options.

Furthermore, we would love your support in getting some conversation going with us on Instagram and LinkedIn to build up some groundswell. Social media is a powerful influencer, and we need your help to keep the circular chatter growing.

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Cultivating our talent for the purpose growing, creating, contributing

Communications Specialist Sparx Publishing Group

our time and purpose of creating, and to humanity.

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Improving the lives of queer, trans, and Two-Spirit people in British Columbia

2019 Pride Parade

A strong community is a foundational aspect of our society, and having access to communal spaces can greatly improve our quality of life. But for LGBTQ2SAI+ people, these spaces can mean survival.

QMUNITY is passionate about being the safe, welcoming community that many queer, trans, and Two-Spirit people in British Columbia never had. We chatted with Visual Communications Designer Tamara Touma about QMUNITY’s mission and goals.

Tell us about QMUNITY’s mission. Our mission and mandate is to improve queer, trans, and Two-Spirit lives through services, connection, leadership, and engagement.

What inspired your founders to start QMUNITY?

Like many other communities, the need for services and a safe space for LGBTQ2SAI+ people was at the core of the then lesbian, gay, and trans community coming together and creating this space. QMUNITY was founded in 1979 and we celebrated our 40th anniversary just before the COVID-19 pandemic.

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

Having to go through the global COVID-19 pandemic for over one and a half years was a big challenge. Our organization had to adjust quickly to the new ways of running our programs and services to provide the support our community needs.

Our staff were put under a lot of pressure to act fast and cater to growing needs, especially

from the most vulnerable populations of youth and seniors. In only a few months, we managed to be running completely online. An important takeaway was to understand the need for online services by LGBTQ2SAI+ community members, many of whom cannot access our physical space.

What do you consider QMUNITY’s biggest success?

Our most recent success would be our new co-leadership model that was implemented earlier this year. QMUNITY adopted a shared leadership model and appointed new Co-Executive Directors in April 2021, which marked a new phase in the organization’s

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growth and evolution. It also set an example for other nonprofits to take similar steps. This adoption came after months of conversations and preparations.

What makes your organization unique?

QMUNITY is the only provincial LGBTQ2SAI+specific resource and community centre in British Columbia. We are a 100% safe space and welcome everyone to come as they are, whatever that may mean to them.

How do you feel QMUNITY makes the world better?

Through education and advocacy, we work to improve the experiences of those within the LGBTQ2SAI+ community, be it by queer competency trainings and larger involvement at a more political level, group and one-on-one support for youth and older adults, or mental health and wellness programs. We are helping individuals through day-to-day life.

Tell us about your organization’s goals.

Our goals can be summarized into three points:

• Support: We empower queer, trans, and TwoSpirit individuals to be their best selves by providing free and low-cost counselling, youth and older adults groups, one-on-one support, and information and referrals.

• Connection: We strengthen our LGBTQ2SAI+ communities to be inclusive, connected, and resilient through peer support groups, volunteer opportunities, and special events.

• Leadership: We lead the way towards legal and lived equality in our society through our education and training services, resources, and advisory committees.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

After a long closure of our offices, we are happy to share that our offices are fully open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm. Our Q Desk for

Youth Pride BBQ

information and referrals is staffed with volunteers who are more than happy to help.

Our Older Adults program has launched multiple new programs, such as Zoom Socials, WalkOUT, and GenYOGA. All details can be found at

Our Bras, Binders, and Breast Forms (BBB) exchange program for youth is constantly growing with the increased need for youth support. We are always happy to receive physical donations for the program. More details can be found at


most want people to know about QMUNITY?

The staff and volunteers at QMUNITY all have unique lived experiences that we bring to our work and that is why we are able to do what we do.

We have passion for our jobs and passion for creating community because a lot of us have needed what we offer at some point in our lives. We want to be able to share our triumphs as well as the hardships that are a reality for our LGBTQ2SAI+ communities.

How can people help or contribute to QMUNITY’s mission?

There are many ways for the community to engage with us and support our mission. We believe that education is key and an ongoing process. Read our resources, ask us for recommendations, or have conversations with others and share the knowledge.

Another way is to volunteer. We are always looking for new volunteers to support our Q Desk, our programs, or at one of our events.

Donations of any amount go a long way. As a registered charity, we count on the support of the public, and we are happy to accept individual donations or new monthly donors.

Tell people about us and share our information with the most vulnerable in our community, especially the youth. Find us at and follow us on Facebook and Instagram at @qmunity. tel: 604.684.5307

do you
Aging with Pride
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Finding a better way to connect people and clinical trials is just the beginning

When it comes to illnesses such as cancer, clinical trials can be helpful in achieving the best possible health outcome. However, finding information about clinical trial options can be difficult and stressful.

Heal Mary makes this process easier by connecting patients, caregivers, and doctors with data on clinical trials that are happening worldwide. We chatted with Founder Cassandra Hui about Heal Mary’s history, mission, and goals, and what makes this company unique.

Tell us about Heal Mary’s mission.

Heal Mary’s mission is to make clinical trials accessible to people of all backgrounds by easing the burden on the search and enrollment process. We’re focused on empowering patients.

What inspired you to start Heal Mary?

My sisters were both diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Our mom was already a Stage 4 cancer survivor. I decided at that point to move my career from technology to digital health.

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

I think the biggest hurdle was trying to understand how clinical trials and enrollment functions behind the scenes. We had to bring on several advisors in the space to really get to know the problem we were solving.

In April 2020, we pivoted to help with COVID-19, and everything we thought we knew changed overnight. And so, we


had to be incredibly agile in both spaces to address the impact the disease was having to the existing clinical trial industry and to the new state of the industry.

What do you consider Heal Mary’s biggest success?

Our biggest success is really what we’ve done in the past 12 months after pivoting our business, from the life science team we’ve brought on – who have done everything to help out, from translating medical terms to plain language and digital patient outreach – to our technical team who spent countless hours building out the functionality and technical process for the patient experience.

Our community really came together to help us out in an effort to help more patients.

What makes your organization unique?

Our diversity. The rich experiences of our team members who have had training or education in places like the US, Africa, Scotland, and Hong Kong, and in industries like Pharma, Digital Health, AI, and Telecommunications.

The lens in which we operate internally is how we feel best serves a diverse patient population as well.

How do you feel Heal Mary makes the world better?

We are passionate about patients and their ability to know their options. We feel we make the world better by making it easier for patients to access those options.

Tell us about your organization’s goals.

We have several technology and investment goals in the next year that will get us to a place to serve more patients and increase access to trial information.

What’s probably more compelling are our goals for 2021/2022 that tie into our UN SDG objectives:

• Good Health and Well-Being: 100% increase in matching patients to clinical trials.

• Gender Equality: 40-50% of potential participants in any trial from Heal Mary are female.

• Reduced Inequality: 25-30% of potential participants in any trial from Heal Mary are BIPOC.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

Currently, users of our platform can get matched with individual trials based on acceptance criteria. Our next technology implementation will help patients match with multiple trials, and they will only need to fill out the acceptance criteria once.

What do you most want people to know about Heal Mary?

We want patients and caregivers to know that they’re not alone. Most of us have been there. This is our passion.

How can people help or contribute to Heal Mary’s mission?

Help us share the word with people who you think could use our platform or services. We want to work with patients to create the best patient-empowered platform.

Cassandra Hui
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What You Need to Know About Sustainable Business Practices

Our guide to approaching sustainability and the brands to inspire you


isn’t just a buzzword these days. Especially when it comes to business. That’s because business practices, whether sustainable or not, have far-reaching consequences. And this can have a profound impact when it comes to making the world a better place, something that Sparx is passionate about.

Investing in sustainability drives innovation. Redesigning a product so it meets new sustainability standards reduces waste, and repurposed materials present new opportunities for those willing to rise to the challenge.

Even during the creation or design phase, it’s important to consider where a product will end up. A landfill? Or can it be repurposed or recycled? In short: what impact will it have on the earth?

The cherry on top: according to the Harvard Business Review, “80% [of the studies analyzed] show that stock price performance is positively correlated with good sustainability practices.” So you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Sparx Publishing Group’s 3Ps of Sustainability

1. Philosophy

It all begins with the simple belief that it’s the right thing to do. As stewards of the earth for future generations, we recognize not only the environmental and social issues that threaten our planet. We also believe it is our responsibility to leave the world in better shape than how we found it.

2. Possibility

Altering business practices so they meet sustainability goals requires innovation and creativity – and sometimes a reminder that it is possible. Having examples of organizations or individuals doing seemingly impossible things is the best catalyst for others to follow suit. Just think: there was a time people thought running the four-minute mile was impossible!

3. Profitability

Operating a business sustainably is undeniably the right thing to do, but unless it improves the bottom line, many companies won’t be on board. There’s good news on this front, too. According to a recent survey, “more than 50% of Gen Z shoppers… are willing to pay more for a sustainable product.” And sustainability is one of the top drivers of repeat customers. Win-win.


Making The World Better One (Sustainable) Step At a Time

So what does sustainability look like in action? We took a look at businesses that are working to make the world better and who can demonstrate that doing the right thing is possible and profitable.

• Based in India, Phool is an enterprising business that helps upcycle some of the over 8 million tonnes of floral offerings thrown into the country’s waterways each year into incense sticks, paper, and coloured powders used for holy festivals.

Phool (which means “flower”) concentrates its efforts on one of the most polluted stretches of India’s holiest river: the Ganges.

Other ideas are in the works too, such as a biodegradable alternative to styrofoam and a form of leather, or “fleather.”

Not only is entrepreneur Ankit Agarwal keeping pesticides out of waterways, but he also employs more than 100 women, many of whom previously worked unsafe jobs or scavenged to survive.

• Another business we want to highlight is SAMARA. In 2015, entrepreneur Salima Visram launched The Soular Backpack. Designed with Kenyan schoolchildren in mind, these backpacks come equipped with a solar panel that charges a battery pack.

Once home, the children can use the battery pack to power an LED lamp to do homework by – a safer, less expensive alternative to kerosene.

Initially, the business had a one-to-one model: for every backpack bought, one would be donated to a child in Kenya, but the backpack was a hard sell in North America.

“Ultimately, people want a product they will use,” Salima realized. So she pivoted, and SAMARA – a line of elegant, vegan handbags – was born. The new line now funnels funds to Soular.

• Also in the fashion industry, luxury fashion designer Stella McCartney recently debuted the “world’s firstever garments made from vegan, lab-grown Mylo™ mushroom leather.”

The sustainable alternative to leather uses renewable mushroom root systems to create the fabric, and is not petroleum-based like many other leather alternatives.

The two pieces – pants and a bustier – are not currently for sale, but do “pave the way for future commercial offerings.” A campaign featuring model Paris Jackson modeling the pieces is generating buzz around this new, innovative fabric.

• Marketplaces like Etsy are filled with eco-conscious makers who often handmake their sustainable wares. There, shoppers can find online shops like Vita Beata Boutique, which specializes in post-consumer, biodegradable greeting cards.

Plus, all the hand-drawn cards are made with paper embedded with seeds, to “create a lasting keepsake.”

Not only do eco-conscious shoppers feel good about their purchase decisions, they are receiving innovative products made with consideration and care, unlike big box stores and Amazon retailers.

Make no mistake about it: sustainable business practices have a profound impact on the world around us. At Sparx, we know the profound impact words can have, which is why our mission is to make the world better, one sentence at a time.

Philosophy • Possibility • Profitability
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A belief that improvement always possible.


that improvement is possible.

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Tools of the Trade

Self-directed investing is made easier with, your one-stop source for navigating the world of online trading.

Learn about the latest trends and compare features, pricing, and promotions at Canadian online brokerages with our easy to use resources.

Let give you the tools to make better-informed choices and improve your financial well-being.

Invest in a better future.

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