For the last seven years, Respect For The Earth And All People (REAP) and its members have been providing sustainable products for Calgarians while helping foster an understanding of the impact of shopping locally.
Feeling she wasn’t using her skills for anything as meaningful as she would like, REAP President and CEO Stephanie Jackman left her job in 2004 in pursuit of using her skills for something more.
“I left that job and started trying to figure out how I could really work with businesses that were about more than just generating a profit, that were really concerned with making the world a better place and a more equitable place for everybody,” she said.
As REAP evolved through the years, so did people’s perceptions of sustainability.
“When we were first incorporated, I would talk to people about sustainability and they would say, ‘that’s like the environment right?’” Jackman said. “And now it’s [sustainability] really on the cusp of becoming a mainstream concept, businesses are starting to understand that it’s not just an add on, it’s something that needs to be integrated into everything that they do and it should move their business forward.”
Today REAP has more than 80 businesses as members. Jackman explained criteria for membership at a “high level” is three things: local ownership, representing a sustainable product or service (not necessarily what your whole business is based on) and demonstrating a commitment to sustainability.
“The reason for that is because sustainability and green businesses have become so popular in recent years that we really need a way of identifying authenticity and working with those businesses that really are truly committed and not just jumping on board because its fashionable,” she said.
One of those committed businesses is Calgary’s Naaco Truck. Founded by Aman Adatia and Stephanie Shields, Naaco became a REAP member after being approached by REAP itself as well as fellow member Green Eggs and Ham.
“If you invest in local economy, the local economy will invest back into you,” said Adatia. “We’re only in business because of other local businesses and citizens of Calgary supporting us.”
The food truck sources 90 per cent of its product from local businesses in Western Canada and is behind several green initiatives including Naaco Cuts Carbon, an initiative created in order to offset the trucks carbon footprint. For every 500 customers, the Naaco team will plant a tree in four local community orchards.