One of my favorite things about being a part of Fillgood is getting the chance to work with a ton of amazing brands and small businesses; we meet so many great people who are committed to sustainability and create products that contribute to a more environmentally conscious economy!
This year, we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to some of our favorite brands and partners. To start us off, we interviewed Philippe Choinière, co-founder of Oneka, a wonderful family-owned company based in Quebec.
There are several reasons why it was such a good match for Fillgood:
We get the products in 5 gallon containers that will be cleaned and refilled when they are empty (we are again in a 100% REUSE model!)
These products are truly eco-friendly with high quality organic ingredients and wild harvested herbal extracts. Because what's in the product matters as much as the packaging!
- Oneka grows on their organic farm the plants they use, following permaculture principles: we think that's really cool!
Fillgood and Oneka's values completely aligned, that's why we are so excited to carry them in bulk in the store and bring you such great products. Come take a look whenever you have a chance: we have shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and body wash, including unscented versions.
Now let's learn more about Oneka and the story of their co-founders, Philippe and Stacey.
How did your company get started?
After living in Europe for 2 years and returning home to Canada, my wife Stacey and I were convinced that a business should be used as a force for good, that its purpose should be to create value for its customers while working in harmony with our environment, that profit should be the consequence of caring for people and the environment not the ultimate end result at the expense of people’s health, the environment and communities.
We thought it would be a good idea to start a business that redefined the standards in our industry and offered a more environmentally and socially sound business model.
Do you remember what first sparked your personal interest in environmentalism and sustainable living?
Growing up on a large conventional apple farm that relied heavily on chemicals, I was exposed to all those chemicals and wondered; do we really have to farm with chemicals? Is that the only way? Is it normal and sound to spray chemicals in the environment and polluting the earth and waterways? As I discovered the Organic movement, I got my answers and became very excited about how we can farm tons of great food organically without chemicals and run for profit companies without relying on extractive capitalism.
Was sustainability and being plastic-free a priority from the beginning?
Water protection was a priority, and by default plastic reduction became a natural focus as it is really just common sense.
Were there any sacrifices you had to make as a business to keep sustainability as a priority?
Since we cannot cut the corners and justify our actions with ‘well you know, business is business’ we have required more time to get to where we are today than a conventional business that is solely focused on cost and profits.
I don’t think we have sacrificed anything in the long term because many short term gains or cost savings that are popular in extractive capitalism end up costing more in the long term. An example of that is taking care of your employees, it may cost more up front but long term, it is a lot more productive and profitable to have a happy employee for a long time than having to train 3 people for that same period of time because your employees are unhappy and do not stay.
What’s your favorite part about working with your company?
Seeing the company evolve over time is exhilarating. Stacey and I started this business in our spare bedroom 12 years ago: we are a team of 9 today with a farm that grows organic plant extracts products sold across North America. Oneka is playing a key role in the local community and industry. It's highly satisfying for us knowing zero or experience no plan nor market research.
What's your favorite zero-waste tip for our readers?
Keep it simple and fun. If it is simple, it will rapidly become a habit and you will keep doing it. It’s best to be imperfect and steady than perfect and stop after 2 months because it is overwhelming and not fun.
Are there any products or projects you’re looking forward to in the future?
We are looking at ways to stop using plastic entirely.