Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver’

Hope for calendar sales in the rain

November 24, 2011

Re-posted from the Hope in Shadows Blog with permission from Project Director Paul Ryan.

Over the next few months you might see Hope in Shadows vendors sporting new rain-proof bags, warm toques and large blue umbrellas.

The rain is more than annoying for many Vancouverites, but for the Hope in Shadows vendors, it’s more than an inconvenience – it really does affect sales. Vendors don’t have a choice if they want to sell the 2012 calendars as they are almost all sold on the street.

We’ve suspected for years that the rain affects calendar sales. In an effort to understand what was happening, we looked at the calendar sales results over several years and noticed a trend: when the “pineapple express” rain hits Vancouver in November and December (usually several fronts coming in from the Pacific Ocean, one after another causing many days of unrelenting rain), sales of the calendar dip. If the rains come in November, but we have a dryer December, November will be the slow month. If November is mostly dry, but December wet, sales will be slow in December.

The bags were made locally by Common Thread, a non-profit operated by the Kettle Friendship Society, also a location of one of our calendar vendor training workshops. Common Thread creates employment for groups such as newcomers to Canada and Aboriginal communities, and is also based in the Downtown Eastside.

I spoke to Common Thread’s vice-president and co-founder Jenette MacArthur who says the people making the bags were women who, like Hope in Shadows vendors, thrive in a flexible work environment. Melanie Conn, who coordinated the making of the bags says that they were made by people who, for a variety of reasons, wouldn’t fit into a formal manufacturing setting. Like Hope in Shadows, Common Thread has an overriding social purpose. “We don’t usually have a customer (such as Hope in Shadows) where we’re so in sync.”

Fairware, who sourced and branded the toques and umbrellas with the Hope in Shadows logo, is a local company dedicated to high standards both environmentally and socially.

The uniform purchase was a team effort. We were very happy to have the financial support of the City of Vancouver and the Betty Averbach Foundation.

Embarking on a path to climate neutrality – Fairware takes first step with the Climate Smart Program

July 26, 2011

Fairware recently completed the Climate Smart Program. Delivered by Climate Smart, a social enterprise based in Vancouver, the Program helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) measure and reduce their carbon emissions.

It’s a unique and valuable program because SMEs generally aren’t a focus for emission reduction initiatives. All current regulation and major federal programs focus on large businesses.

An example of this is the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a pending cap and trade system that will affect western states and the majority of Canadian provinces. The WCI requires reporting by businesses with more than 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (C02e) in direct emissions. Business with more than 25,000 tonnes C02e in direct emissions will be required to participate in a cap and trade system.

WCI Partners and Observers

By comparison, data from Climate Smart suggests emissions reported by SMEs are on average less than 1000 tonnes CO2e, with most businesses reporting emissions closer to 200 tonnes of CO2e.

An art installation from the 2009 UN climate talks was created to help people visualize what a ton of CO2 “looks like”.

Climate Smart grew out of the recognition that SMEs, the largest part of the economy and 98% of Canadian businesses, are largely overlooked by climate change policy and that this dynamic sector can play a key role in addressing climate change.

Here’s a quick overview of our experience with the program, which consisted of 3 half day sessions spread over 3 months, broken down into the following 3-step process:

Step 1: Measuring our emissions

The first session gave a succinct overview of climate change – the basics of greenhouse gases, sources and implications – and an introduction to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the most widely used international accounting tool for quantifying and managing greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the Protocol, companies undertake a greenhouse gas inventory that covers scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions (see image below) over a one-year period.

Scope 1, 2 and 3 emission sources under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol

While consideration of scope 3 sources isn’t required, it’s recommended that companies include them as they can represent a relatively large source of emissions and by extension may represent a significant contribution to a company’s GHG risk exposure.

This inventory process is repeated annually to track progress against the baseline year.

Below is a first draft of Fairware’s operations and emission sources (color coded for the 3 scopes) completed in session 1:

With this visual of our greenhouse gas emissions in hand, it was just a matter of identifying data sources for gathering the required details for each source.

The session ended with a tour of Climate Smart’s slick online app and tools for compiling and calculating emissions by source. With an invitation to contact the Carbon Hotline (604-CLIMATE…love it!) with any questions, session 1 came to a close.

Session 2: Reducing emissions

The second session was the most motivational and began with a visioning exercise that asked participants to “think big” and imagine the headline they’d like to see their company recognized for in 10 years.

We were also presented with impressive case studies from prior Climate Smart participants including Tinhorn Creek Vineyards and YWCA Vancouver.

Perhaps best of all was the discussion with fellow participants. We shared ideas for reducing one another’s emissions, talked about potential challenges and geeked out on the research, news and innovative strategies people had come across in their day-to-day.

We left the session feeling a lot more knowledgeable and inspired to create a plan for reducing the emissions of our own businesses.

Session 3: Offsets

This session was info-packed! The main message – offsets shouldn’t be considered an easy-out or sole strategy to achieve carbon neutrality.

Companies should first be avoiding carbon intensive activities where possible, next reducing the emissions they do create, replacing carbon intensive activities/processes where possible, and finally, considering offsets for the emissions they’re not currently able to address through these 3 steps of avoidance, reduction and replacement.

Carbon Management Hierarchy

We looked at the concept of cap and trade and discussed existing voluntary and compliance markets.

Graphic describing cap & trade from the Washington Post

Another key message was that not all offsets are created equal.

There are 4 main types of offset markets – energy efficiency, renewable energy, methane capture and biological sequestration – each with advantages and challenges to consider.

Beyond the type of offset, there are considerations to be made regarding location, strategic alignment, price and more. While these details may seem confusing, overwhelming even, there are widely accepted criteria and standards that can help companies find high quality, verified offsets.

Some of these standards include the Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard and Climate Action Reserve among others.

We were also directed to some great resources to assist us with offset decisions, including Purchasing Carbon Offsets: A Guide for Canadian Consumers, Businesses and Organizations by the David Suzuki Foundation, which has done considerable research in the carbon market field.

The session concluded with a discussion of internal and external communication strategies for gaining employee support and public recognition.


We thoroughly enjoyed all the Climate Smart sessions and, while we realize there will be challenges, are psyched to embark down a path to climate neutrality.

Beyond a better understanding of our carbon footprint, the data collection we undertook to complete our inventory provided some valuable insights on our shipping and travel patterns, and useful data for both carbon and cost reduction steps.

An additional benefit to completing the Climate Smart Program is becoming a part of the Climate Smart Alumni and gaining access to the regular learning and networking events organized by Climate Smart.

We’ll be documenting some of our reduction initiatives here. We’re keen to hear your ideas and feedback!

We’re hiring: Sales & Office Administrator

April 14, 2011

We have a fantastic job opportunity available for a Sales and Office Administrator.  If you’re super organized, a master of multi-tasking, have customer service experience and like working as part of a team in a fast-paced environment – this job is for you.  Oh, and a passion for all things sustainable helps.

View the full job description HERE and get your application in soon (deadline is April 29).

February Bike Battle

February 24, 2011

We could call it the “February Bike Commute Challenge” but lately the Fairware contest to see who will bike to work the most days in February has taken on battle undertones. With only two days to go Stefan and I are locked in a race to victory, separated by a mere half point!

Here’s how it works: Staff receive a point each day they bike to and from work. If you bike only one way (say it starts raining mid-day and you take the bus home) you get a 1/2 point. If it rains, and you get significantly wet during your ride, it becomes a double point day. We record points daily on a calendar in the lunch room (pictured below).

Sarah (SW) enthusiastically enters the race

The race was tight at the beginning but a hit of the flu for Nicole and week-long business trip for Denise took them out of the running. Sarah looked like she would be a serious contender, entering the race mid-month with great enthusiasm, but fell behind shortly after.

I won’t go into details of the battle between Stefan and I, which has been crazy exciting, but the next two days will define winner and loser. Tomorrow has a forecast of -15 so it’s not going to be a pretty finish.

Stay tuned as the winner will be announced Monday. The prize? Honour, prestige, bragging rights, the opportunity to rub victory in the face of your colleagues…and beer of course.

We’re Hiring…

December 6, 2010

We have a fantastic job opportunity available for a Customer Service Representative.  If you’re a master of multi-tasking, have customer service experience and like working as part of a team in a fast-paced environment – this job is for you.  Oh, and a passion for all things sustainable helps.

View the full job description HERE and get your application in soon (deadline is December 30th).

Water Bottles from China

November 30, 2010

Flickr / jeremylim

We recently had the opportunity to provide support to our local Tedx event here in Vancouver – by creating custom branded glass water bottles for the participants. They’re cool, they’re useful, and… they’re from China (as noted by @kimli on Delicious Juice Dot Com).

It’s the classic conundrum we face everyday in our business – working on sustainability within a global supply chain (more on our Code of Conduct in dealing with our supply chain at the end of the post).

Our key challenge in sourcing is facing diminishing capacity in local manufacturing. Drink-ware is especially prone to this. For example, we have yet to find a stainless steel water bottle made in North America, there are plenty of plastic bottles made here, just no stainless.

And guess what one of our top selling products is? Yup, stainless water bottles. That said, we’ve never looked for a domestic glass bottle supplier… but thanks to @kimli we will now (we’re always looking for local suppliers to help bring to market).

With drink-ware our main aim is to  get folks to kick the disposable habit (a bad habit as noted in Annie Leonard’s The Story of Bottled Water).  While we keep working on the supply side of things, we’re work with our clients to get folks out of single serve water.

Take Tedx Vancouver for example, last year FIJI water sponsored the event, and had their product out for grabs. From what I heard organizers got grief about it (refer back to the Story of Bottled Water if you’re still wondering why).

In making products to change behavior, cool helps – if people like the product, they use it  (we thought we’d do glass because it’s unique and different, just like Tedx even though rumor has it that glass has a bigger footprint than steel).

flickr / jeremylin

But I do want to dispel a key myth out there regarding the enviro-impacts of shipping product around the world. A lot of people we talk to assume there must be more emissions getting product from China than getting product from say… Toronto. Being in Vancouver, a port city, allows us to receive product by ocean freight vs. product being trucked across the country. And ocean freight is about 5.5x LESS environmental impact (in terms of efficiency) than the trucks that haul our goods across Canada. Here’s that concept applied to a bottle of wine from our friends at World Changing.

In short, sourcing products is tough and getting more local is an Idea Worth Spreading for sure. Check out our pals @locobc to check out their efforts to promote all things local. Interested in the standards we use in working with our supply chain? Check our Code of Conduct out or check out the work of the Fair Labor Association.

We got great feedback on the bottles – although I’m not sure we’d recommend glass for a venue with concrete floors in the future! Thanks to @kimli for keeping us on our toes.

100% electric truck at Fairware!

November 26, 2010

Many couriers pass through the Fairware office. With suppliers and clients across North America, we are constantly receiving and shipping. But yesterday we were pumped for a particularly large pick-up from Novex, a B.C.-owned and operated company. The reason? They sent one of only two 100% electric trucks licensed in Canada! (the other one also belongs to Novex). We were so excited to check out the electric truck we braved the rather atypical snow in Vancouver to get an up-close look.

Check out the video below where the driver shows us how the truck plugs-in for a re-charge. The truck can go 200km on a single charge.

3 Tips for Cycling in the Rain

November 17, 2010

Flickr / dustinj

This week, inspired by two days of downpour in Vancouver, we bring you 3 tips for riding in the rain:

1. Acceptance – You’re going to get wet and that’s okay.

2.  Just get going – Once you’re on your way you warm up, making the trip a lot more comfortable.

3.  Friends – Not sure if it’s the comradery or the competition, but having friends cycle with you makes it more fun (and a more difficult commitment to break).

Of course decent rain gear helps too (but that’s kind of obvious).

Let us know your top tip for riding in the rain!

Guest Post – Eclipse Awards: Employee Motivation & Engagement

September 29, 2010

Earlier in the year our friends at Eclipse Awards attended a conference of Recognition Professionals International (RPI). They picked up some great tips and best practices which they shared on their blog Happiness Delivered in May.  We’ve re-posted their blog entry here. Read on for insights on employee engagement and motivation as well as an introduction to Eclipse Awards, an experienced, world-class supplier of crystal awards, green awards and glass recognition awards.

The following post was written by Toby Barazzuol, President of Eclipse Awards (Twitter: @tobybarazzuol).

Last week we returned from an epic conference of the Recognition Professionals International (RPI) Association in Henderson, Nevada.  For Eclipse Awards, the conference was a success on many levels – over 5 days we attended workshops and courses, learned best practices from Fortune1000 HR managers and recognition professionals, displayed our crystal awards while introducing our new line of green awards, and generally gained a deeper understanding of the power of recognition and acknowledgement to strengthen an organization.  In addition, our resident recognition guru Nelson Borges even became Western Canada’s first Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) after 4 days of intensive training.  In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more of this knowledge, but for now, here is an overview of the conference.

The RPI conference provided an opportunity to network with HR managers from massive organizations that manage thousands of staff – 5000, 20000 or even 75000 people!  Companies like United Airlines, Delta Airlines, DirectTV, BELL, TD Canada Trust, T-Mobile and Wells Fargo were in attendance, as were organizations like the University of Florida, Ohio State University Medical Center, City of Calgary, and McGill University Health Care.  There were even attendees from India and the Netherlands.  In all, an amazing cross section of recognition professionals that provided unique insights into the current state of employee engagement, motivation and best practices.

Here are the top 10 key learnings, and though some may seem simple on the surface, they have some deep implications:

  1. Recognition helps reinforce positive behaviours and improves employee performance through improved attitude and morale. Recognition also improves employee engagement and commitment. (more…)

Case Study: Online Store for Shoreline Cleanup T-Shirts

August 31, 2010

Flickr / Fiona of Zhadum


The world famous Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre –  a self-supporting, non-profit association dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life through display and interpretation, education, research, and direct action.


The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup – an annual event held across Canada (this year September 18-26th), the Shoreline Cleanup is a grassroots conservation program that aims to promote understanding and education about shoreline litter issues by engaging Canadians to rehabilitate shoreline areas through cleanups. Garbage on shorelines across the country is gathered during a week long event organized by volunteer Site Coordinators.

In 2009, over 1500 sites were registered for the Shoreline Cleanup and more than 160,000 kg  of waste was cleaned from our waterways.

Client Request:

In the past, individual cleanup sites coordinated the purchasing of team t-shirts on their own. This year, the Aquarium wanted to offer a t-shirt purchasing program for all the cleanup sites, allowing volunteer groups to take advantage of bulk purchasing rates and custom artwork options that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them.

Fairware Approach:

1. Online Survey: To start, Fairware conducted an online survey to gauge the level of interest from Site Coordinators in purchasing team t-shirts. We wanted to eliminate the risk of building a site for a program that didn’t have buy-in.

2. Online Store: Once it was established that Site Coordinators were interested in placing orders, Fairware developed a custom online store that made purchasing easy. The site allowed for upfront order payment, automated order status updates, artwork upload options and reporting features that simplified delivery of the program.

3. Product Selection: The Aquarium designed some fantastic “I heart my shoreline” artwork for the front of the t-shirts (pictured below) and recognized major sponsors on the t-shirt backs. They selected 100% cotton unisex styles in both adult and youth sizes which Fairware  sourced from a supplier that meets our Supplier Code of Conduct for social and environmental responsibility.

4. Customization: The online store allowed individual cleanup sites the option of uploading a distinct team name for printing on the back of the shirts. Through automated messaging, Site Coordinators were kept up to date on the status of their orders.

5. Program Promotion: To help spread the word Fairware coordinated an e-reminder campaign, alerting Site Coordinators of pending deadlines. The Shoreline Clean-up team promoted the t-shirts on their main site and among their network.

6. Customer Service: While use of the website brought efficiencies to both the Aquarium and Site Coordinators, there was great value in having a knowledgeable contact person at Fairware to deal with questions and concerns from site visitors as they arose.

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