Are we building to last?

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I am so grateful that I was inspired to use the name Simply Sustainable for my grassroots movement. Its origin being from a “consulting firm” I created while studying Environmental Management as a student at Niagara College in 2006.

When I decided to transition into artistry a couple of years later, the name stuck. It reminds me of two key components, a two item checklist: Am I keeping it Simple? Am I making it Sustainable?

Ruins of Tulum, Mexico
Tulum, Mexico

Define simple? I have come to know and satisfy this term by building a grassroots movement using basic ingredients: time, patience, hard work, devotion, love, creativity, positive energy, traditional techniques, etc.   It has not been easy, but I have done my best to keep it simple.

Sustainability? This term is very broad and at the end of the day I would like to work towards satisfying all facets of it. At this time, it is a work in progress – but the wheels are in motion.

In a past blog, I personally defined sustainability as “the ability to lead a life that contributes to the long term growth of healthy communities globally without further compromising Mother Nature or citizens worldwide.”

Panajachel, Guatemala
Panajachel, Guatemala

From that frame of mind I have derived a few questions:

  • How do we promote sustainable practices within communities?
  • What are some examples of sustainable practices at the local level in Niagara?
  • Where are there communities in Ontario that are using sustainable frameworks?
  • Why should we think sustainable?

As a modern age researcher, I of course went to the internet to seek out some additional insight and connect with likeminded citizens. Within a few Google searches I came across the Niagara Sustainability Initiative (NSI). I started volunteering with them soon after making contact and have had the opportunity to watch the organization grow within our local community. When one door opens, so does another. Through NSI, I learned of Sustainable Waterloo Region, a great example of communities in Ontario focused on Sustainable Development.  

Mike Morrice - Co-Founder of Sustainable Waterloo Region
Mike Morrice – Co-Founder of Sustainable Waterloo Region

On May 28th, NSI celebrated their 3 year anniversary. To mark the occasion, we gathered for the Evening of Recognition at White Oaks Resort and shined the spotlight on key local players in the Region. This night was also the launch of Crowdsourcing Sustainability (CS) an online “Information & Events Hub” for the Niagara community.

Taking a peak @
Taking a peak @

The goal of CS is to bring likeminded organizations and individuals together onto a single platform which will foster and establish valuable partnerships. In addition CS will improve the marketing and community reach of citizens’ sustainability efforts connecting potential employees, volunteers, participants and customers.

So what is considered sustainable? CS uses a broad definition of sustainability; however the focus of the website is on environmental sustainability. For example, as an organization or business your products and services aim to have a positive impact on the environment compared to the alternative.

Business Card Holder made locally from retired wine barrels -
Business Card Holder made locally from retired wine barrels –

When it comes to products: specifically considering the life-cycle of your offerings, reducing the packaging, using local resources where possible, ethically sourcing your products & raw materials, contribution to the local community.

For services offered: an integrated approach to services provision in an environmentally and ecologically responsible manner, seeking certification recognition where possible (ISO 14001, LEED), efficient commuting/carpooling.

The “Crowdsourcing” component of the CS project looks towards the community to be key players online in populating the Niagara map. While NSI owns the website, providing maintenance and addressing any flagged or irrelevant material, it is the public partners (organizations, businesses, professionals, involved residents) that will keep the momentum going and the material fresh. Crowdsourcing in itself is the act of outsourcing functions to the public in the form of an open call.

There it is! I, as a volunteer for NSI am calling on you, members of the community to Pin Your Path for your sustainable actions in Niagara. Whether you are a small business with green initiatives or a non-profit organization with a community garden we want to hear about it!

Check out the website and see where you fit. It has been created to be user friendly and easy to maintain. Once you create an account you will be able to provide updates about your organization’s events and initiatives. Be sure to share the link on social media with your circle of followers. By cross promoting our efforts we reach more people and as a community we grow together.


As for the ever burning question: why should we think sustainable? I will let that one provoke some thought. If you believe that Niagara is built to last, there is no better way to show it than to lighten your footprint while continuously moving forward.



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Leah Feor

Leah Feor is the owner of Simply Sustainable, a small business that has evolved from a fair trade mobile shop to a strategic consulting firm serving entrepreneurs with a social or environmental vision. Balancing her clients’ Triple Bottom Line – people, planet, profit – is Leah’s utmost goal, and is supported by her background in accounting and environmental management.

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