September 28, 2020

BY KRIS MANUEL

The sixth annual Ecomarket educated citizens on how to live green in their day-to-day lives. From a community CarShare, ethical clothing and jewelry and sustainable salons and spas, more than 30 exhibitors shared their ideas, products and services to passersby in Guelph’s Old Quebec Street mall March 23.

“I think people are starting to really figure out that it’s not just going to a festival that’s important, it’s not just being aware once a year, like planting a tree on Earth Day, it really is a day-to-day lifestyle shift that we’re having to take on,” said Glynis Logue, the executive director of Guelph Environmental Leadership, which hosted the event.

One of the things people can do to help is join a community carsharing co-operative. Jason Hammond, president of Grand River CarShare and Hamilton CarShare, was at the event informing residents of a CarShare program that will be starting in Guelph in May. It will start with two cars downtown and they will need at least 30 members in a neighbourhood in order to place a car there. Community CarShare is already operating in Kitchener-Waterloo, Elmira and Hamilton.

“We have 800 members in all, and about two-thirds of those are in Kitchener-Waterloo,” Hammond said. “There are 28 cars in the entire fleet. It’s all one system so if you want to take a bus or a train to another city and have a car when you get there you can do that with us.”

By sharing cars among the community, it reduces the number of cars on the road, which reduces our carbon footprint. It can also save members the cost of owning a car and they are able to have a car available only when they need it by reserving it.

“It can be spur of the moment or up to a year in advance,” Hammond said. “So if you walk into a dentist’s office and your next appointment is on this date, you can go book the car for that date,” he said.

Members choose from three different rate plans and are insured in Canada and the U.S. They can also choose from a variety of models to suit their need.

Rebecca Ridsdale, owner of Green Sweep Home and Office Cleaning, also had an exhibit at the event. The cleaning company, serving Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, offers cleaning services in offices or homes and uses non-toxic cleaning products.

“We don’t use any chemical products in our cleaning, we actually make a lot of our own products, so we use vinegar, borax, washing sodas and essential oils,” Ridsdale said.

“Chemical cleaning products are very caustic, they’ve been linked to cancers,” she said. “There was a study done that shows women who work in the home have a higher rate of cancer because they’re enclosed in their home. So it’s a health option, it’s a necessity to have non-toxic products I think.”

The products they use are also biodegradable so they don’t pollute the environment or contaminate our drinking water.

Ecomarket also featured seven free workshops, including fostering sustainable neighbourhoods, empowering transportation behaviour and making space in your garden for bees.

Hammond said, “I think we’re also, as a community, starting to realize that we need massive transformations of our cities. We need to really become green, efficient and walkable. And community cohesion is a really key part of that. The Ecomarket is a really lovely way to strike the cord around community cohesion.”