My Story & Good Choice Initiative
Hi! Thanks for being here. My name’s Noelle – I’m an eco-citizen, having spent most of my childhood living abroad in countries like Argentina and India, yet Ottawa is and always has been home. Only a one hour drive away, our family cottage in La Pêche, Quebec is where I spent most of the day outside, swimming in the lake. Today, it is where I disconnect from the city and reconnect with nature.
With a degree in Geography from Queen’s University, I’m passionate about sustainability and community development. I’ve studied tropical ecology in Costa Rica and benefited from an internship in environmental education in Honduras, working alongside local NGOs on conservation projects.
On the island of Utila, I learned to scuba dive and fell (more) in love with the ocean. My dream is to one day see a whale shark in its natural habitat… I even got a bamboo tattoo of this gentle giant in Thailand as a daily reminder of this personal lifetime goal.
I’ve worked close to a decade supporting social and environmental projects in Canada and abroad, particularly for international sponsorship programs, organizing networking events for Francophone newcomers to find employment and on business development at Fairtrade Canada, where I learned about standards of sustainable production and transparency in the supply chain.
That’s when I started to ask myself where and how the products I was purchasing were made, and under what conditions.
In October of 2018, I took a leap of faith and decided to leave a job and life I loved in Toronto behind for the opportunity to experience more of the world. I had the chance to travel for 8 months in Central America, South East Asia and Europe. Some of my favourite countries included Mexico, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia, but all of them had their own charm.
I visited and explored incredible temples, caves, waterfalls, elephant and tarsier sanctuaries, an orangutan rehabilitation centre, rice fields, volcanoes, mountains, ancient ruins, islands, beaches, coral reefs and the jungle, all of which deserve to be preserved.I carried a 25 kg backpack of basic clothes and necessities, and realized that I didn’t need anything more than what I already had with me. I’d even forgotten about most of the clothes and other belongings that were waiting for me back home.
I learned that the best way to get to know yourself better is through travel and exposure to unfamiliar situations: with time and reflection, you gain clarity on your values, what you care about and what you stand for.
Throughout my travels, I witnessed environmental degradation: plastic pollution in rivers, in the ocean and on beaches, burning garbage, and clear cutting the rainforest for mono crop palm plantations. I could see how climate change is driven by human activity, fueled by our unsustainable demands and requiring the exploitation of natural resources. Despite this, I know I don’t have all the answers to save the world yet I’m convinced I can be part of the solution.
Although I am only one person in a world of nearly 8 billion, I do believe in my ability to make a difference for the environment through my daily choices, in both the local and global communities that I belong to.
It’s important for me to know that I can have a positive impact closer to home by choosing to purchase products with intent and purpose.
Since systemic change takes time, I choose to support smaller, local businesses that sell products that align with my values of sustainability and ethics, whenever possible and within my means. These products are often more unique and higher quality than those of larger corporations, extending their life cycle and minimizing unnecessary waste. Most of my wardrobe consists of secondhand clothes that I’ve had for a long time, and each piece tells a story about how it was made and the people who made them. I know we can say the same for many of the products we buy from local businesses and producers.
I first came up with the idea of Good Choice Initiative since returning home in June 2019 after my extensive trip. As a result of this experience and my enhanced social and environmental awareness, I felt that available information about making ethical and sustainable choices was often overwhelming or confusing. In response, I wanted to offer a go-to source of information to other like-minded consumers in the Ottawa area to learn about topics related to sustainability and well-being, to become aware of – and be able to search for – the sustainable and ethical products sold by local businesses that align with your values.
I’m excited for you to join me on this journey towards living more sustainably, which will look different for everyone. Over the past few years, I have been much more conscious of my lifestyle choices and impact: favouring a plant-based diet, products that are local/high quality/plastic-free, and adopting a zero waste practices. It’s a constant process of learning and growth but I’m motivated to live by my values and am committed to supporting you in doing the same. I can’t wait to share our experiences, successes, challenges and stories to learn from and inspire one another.
Check out our Good Choice Initiative directory of local businesses in the Ottawa area that are doing their part to have a positive social and environmental impact. To the left are just a few of the 69 local businesses (and counting) that are featured on our directory.
Search by category (clothing, home decor, personal care, food/drink, services & more) and criteria (locally made, handmade, zero waste, all natural, organic, fair trade, second hand, upcycled & more) so you can support small businesses that care about the same as you.
We can all do our part – the goal is progress, not perfection!
Join the Good Choice Initiative community, where you can Do Good and Feel Good about it, surrounded by like-minded people and businesses who care about our people and our planet.