Local businesses helping Kingston area residents reduce their carbon footprint

*Paid Business Feature*

Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash.

Every spring, millions of people celebrate Earth Day — a time to consider our habits and influence, and make changes to better the Earth, for those on it now, and for those still to come.

The first Earth Day, in 1970, is credited with starting the modern environmental movement. According to the official Earth Day website, since then, Earth Day has evolved into the largest civic event on Earth, activating billions of people across 192 countries to safeguard our planet and fight for a brighter future.

While affecting large-scale climate-conscious change sounds like an impossible task, the best way to begin helping the Earth is to make smart personal decisions with your purchasing power.

An easy way to start is with everyday products you use in your home. Annually, the average Canadian household produces over 80 kg of plastic waste and less than nine per cent of what goes into a blue bin is ever recycled, according to Andrew Murray, who, along with his wife Jacquie, owns The Keep Refillery, which has a store at 206 Princess Street in downtown Kingston.

“The idea that plastic is being properly recycled is one of the biggest misconceptions out there,” Murray stated. “In fact, the recycling program was created 50 years ago by the plastics industry to get out in front of the narrative around the waste they are creating. They knew it then and they know it now; plastic is incredibly difficult and expensive to recycle.”

Since opening their doors in 2020, The Keep has kept over 300,000 pieces of single use plastic out of our lakes, rivers, and landfills. Their business is rooted in the idea you never throw out another empty shampoo bottle or laundry jug — instead, you bring it to them and refill it with their ethically sourced, biodegradable, micro-plastic-free products. 

“Climate change has reached a tipping point. In 2023, over 50,000 global heat records were broken. Annually, the greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing of ethylene, the building block for plastic, are the equivalent of what 50 million cars produce in a year. These two things are intrinsically connected. At The Keep we offer a tangible solution to this global crisis,” Murray continued.

“We hold all of our suppliers accountable for their waste and we encourage consumers to do the same thing. Every piece of plastic kept out of the landfill makes a difference. People need to take climate change into their own hands.”

While we often think about reducing, reusing, and recycling (and now refilling) as the best ways to work toward a greener planet, there are some big-picture purchases we can make that will also improve the climate by reducing fossil fuel usage.

Electric vehicles likely spring to mind as a way to support the environment, but homeowners should also consider installing a heat pump to heat and cool their homes.

“Heat pumps are, in general, devices that move heat – instead of generating it – from one place to another using a small amount of energy. They are powered by electricity and utilize renewable sources of heat, such as the air, ground, or water, further reducing the carbon footprint of buildings and homes,” said Keith Didychuk, founder of ECM, a local HVAC company that specializes in heat pump system installation and repair.

“With a heat pump, the heating and cooling processes are completed without burning fossil fuels, representing a greener solution for homeowners and business owners. This also translates into better indoor air quality and no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year-round to keep you comfortable. During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. It extracts heat from inside the home and transfers it to the outdoor air. In colder weather, however, the process reverses — the unit collects heat from the outdoor air and transfers it inside your home. Even when the air outside feels extremely cold, the air still contains some heat. The heat pump pulls the heat from this cold outdoor air and sends it inside to warm your home. When there’s not enough heat in the outside air to meet the demand of the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the outdoor air to warm the home.

According to ECM, this process is extremely efficient and produces two to three times more heat than the energy it uses.

Didychuk founded ECM in 2017, though the team has many years of experience in residential, commercial and industrial heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. In 2021, Didychuk launched Kingston Heat Pumps, an arm of ECM that focuses on residential Heat Pumps, including air-to-air, air-to-water and geothermal.

In 2023, ECM was awarded “Most Heat Pumps Installed” by Sustainable Kingston, and they are ready to help more homeowners and business owners so that they can shift to a more sustainable lifestyle. 

But let’s be honest – upgrading furnaces and air conditioners isn’t something you decide overnight. Cost is often the most limiting step to improving your carbon footprint, and Kingston Community Credit Union (KCCU) helps homeowners reduce their carbon footprints with its Green Home line of credit or loan.

Specifically designed to support those taking steps towards sustainability, these Climate Action loans help KCCU members reduce their impact on the environment. They also offer EcoSmart Vehicle loans. From electric or hybrid vehicle purchases, to even a bicycle loan, KCCU wants to help you reduce fossil fuel usage, and offers flexible repayment options.

“At KCCU we know that the risk from adverse climate change will impact our members and our community. We are doing our best to be part of the climate change solution. We are taking our own actions towards sustainability while also supporting our members with fairly priced Green Loans to help members reduce their own impact on the environment,” said Jon Dessau, CEO of Kingston Community Credit Union.

“In addition, we are supporting our local Kingston community by supporting local green initiatives such as the Kingston Community Climate Action Fund (KCCAF) which provides combined support for community organizations with contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Since its inception in 2019, KCCU has partnered with the City of Kingston’s KCCAF to support local charities and not-for-profit organizations, and their initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and/or air emissions; increase energy conservation or efficiency; reduce or divert organic waste; or assist with Climate Change adaptation and technology innovation reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

Each year, KCCU has actively supported the promotion and fundraising for the organizations supported by the KCCAF, accepted donations from the public at their branches, and matched those donations up to $5,000 per year.

“KCCU embodies the spirit of cooperatives through its commitment to community enrichment and sustainability. Whether it’s staff stepping out to pick up debris on Pitch in Kingston day, planting saplings in a local rain garden, or corporate support to local community gardens and land conservation organizations, we are doing their part to help Kingston move towards being carbon neutral by 2040,” stated KCCU Board Chair, Robert Trentadue.

Whether you’re ready to take big steps, or small, local businesses can help you reduce your carbon footprint and make a smaller impact on the environment — on Earth Day, and every day.

This article is sponsored content. Each of the businesses highlighted above paid a fee to be featured in this article. Interested in a Business Feature on Kingstonist? Contact [email protected]

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