Good Choice Initiative

Sustainability and Ethics

Good Choice Initiative (GCI) believes in a holistic approach to sustainable living that considers both social and environmental well-being in our buying and lifestyle choices.

As consumers, we should ask ourselves certain questions before purchasing a product:

  • Where was it made?
  • Under what conditions?
  • What materials or ingredients were used?
  • What will happen to it once we’re finished with it?

GCI considers the following sustainability and ethics criteria: locally made, handmade, second-hand, fair trade, zero waste/plastic free, all-natural, organic and cruelty-free/vegan.

Our Business Directory allows you to search for local businesses by category and criteria, according to what matters to you. It features common purchases such as apparel, home decor, personal care/cosmetics and cleaning products.

We’ve selected local Ottawa area businesses that meet one or more of the Sustainability and Ethics criteria listed below. 

For The Environment

Sustainability means that the needs of today are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. Sustainable products are made in a way that either minimize their impact on the environment or do not harm it by depleting its natural resources:
Zero waste/plastic-free

Produces no waste and uses no packaging  unless it is natural, biodegradable or compostable, e.g. paper or natural fibres.


certification system that upholds strict standards and regulations to ensure there is no use of toxic chemicals or pesticides in the production which could harm the environment and workers’ health. 

We differentiate between products that follow principles of organic production and those that have the certification.


The product’s life cycle is extended by being passed on from a previous user and/or is not made using new resources unless they are recycled materials, e.g. plastic water bottles.


Used without harmful chemicals such as synthetic additives or preservatives and using only natural fabrics/materials/ingredients.

For The People

Ethics ensures social well-being is considered and respected. An ethical product is made in a way that respects social rights and the working conditions in which the product was made.
Fair Trade

A global social movement that follows fair trading practices and aims to close the traditionally unequal gap between producers and consumers. Direct trade refers to trade between producer and seller in consumer country with no intermediary distributor. 

We distinguish products that are fair trade (fairly-traded) from those that hold a Fairtrade certification. Learn the difference between the certification and Fair Trade Federation.

Locally made

Made within a nearby geographic area/region (Ottawa, Ontario or neighbouring province) which offsets carbon emissions related to transportation of goods across large distances.

The sale of products made by local businesses and producers helps recycle and reinvest revenue into the local economy and community. 


Made or crafted by hand on a small scale using high-quality materials, as opposed to mass factory production that often has a short life cycle and is likely to be disposable.

Products made by small producers support local economic development, which tend to be high quality, unique and with a longer life cycle than mass-produced and disposable versions.

Cruelty free/vegan

Not tested on animals & uses no animal products or by-products, including honey. 

Read about the Leaping Bunny Program, the gold-standard in cruelty-free certification for personal care and household products.

As consumers, we have the power to buy products that align with our sustainability and ethics criteria. 

We encourage community crowd-sourcing. Our local business directory is a work in progress – we’re always looking for contributing members to help it grow. If there are any businesses you don’t see listed but think should be, reach out to us!

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