EcoStar Awards honour Vancouver Island's green businesses

A zero-waste grocer and a beach resort using rain to fill its hot tubs were among 19 winners at the fourth annual Vancouver Island EcoStar Awards Thursday night at the Ocean Pointe Resort.

Hosted by the Synergy Sustainability Institute, the awards recognize excellence in environmental achievement and leadership of Island businesses, organizations and individuals.

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“I think it’s really important to celebrate environmental leadership on Vancouver Island,” said Synergy founder Jill Doucette. “This is about unearthing the stories of businesses and individuals who are doing great work, and a lot of this work goes unrecognized.”

That’s because much of the work is done behind the scenes, like at Crystal Cove Beach Resort, which has installed a rainwater collection and storage system.

That system allowed the Tofino resort to reduce its water consumption by 30 per cent between 2016 and 2017. It also allowed the resort to store 20,000 gallons at a time, which is treated and then used to fill hot tubs and water gardens. The resort took home the Water Conservation award.

The Eco-preneur of the Year award went to Paula and Nairn McPhee and their Zero Waste Emporium. The store is billed as the Island’s first zero-waste grocer after it opened in Victoria in August carrying items that fit within the philosophy of zero waste — refuse, reduce, re-use, repair, recycle and rot.   

Doucette said the event highlights companies such as these to be an inspiration to others in the community, something that has been working since the Capital Regional District launched this kind of award 15 years ago.

“It’s had the ripple effect in forming new partnerships and alliances between businesses that are working on common goals,” she said. “And one major change I’ve seen is that businesses are way more innovative now. When you look back over 15 years, there has been massive change, which is pretty cool to see.”

The winners

  • Climate Action: Oughtred Coffee & Tea
  • Leadership: Big Wheel Burger
  • Ecological Stewardship (Business): Ocean Outfitters
  • Ecological Stewardship (Non-Profit):Municipal Natural Assets Initiative
  • Eco-Preneur of the Year: Paula & Nairn McPhee, Zero Waste Emporium
  • Experiential Tourism: Butterfly Gardens
  • Green Office: Dockside Physiotherapy
  • Green Restaurant: Pizzeria Prima Strada
  • Green Retailer: Level 10 Eurospa
  • Leadership in Design & Construction: Western Interior Design Group
  • Food: The Root Cellar Village Green
  • Lodging & Accommodation: Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort
  • Manufacturing: Victoria Soda Works
  • Maritime Industry: Georgia Strait Alliance
  • Social Impact: Cowichan Green Community
  • Technology Excellence: Empire Hydrogen Energy Systems
  • Transportation Mode-Shift: Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-op
  • Waste to Resource: Tire Stewardship B.C.
  • Water Conservation: Crystal Cove Beach Resort

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