The 2021 Ecostar Awards celebrate Victoria’s leading sustainable businesses

The team of Outer Shores Expeditions
Outer Shores Expeditions is among the winners of the 2021 Ecostar Awards. The team developed the Marine Debris Removal Initiative. Photo supplied.

The annual Ecostar awards celebrated outstanding achievements that steer our economy and communities towards a more regenerative future. The in-person ceremony at the Laurel Point Hotel and brought together some of the South Island’s most creative, innovative and forward thinking green business leaders.

The awards are hosted by Synergy Foundation who focus on innovative projects and programs that push the envelope, support hundreds of businesses and turn great ideas into action. This year’s Ecostar awards acknowledged outstanding contributions to the environment in 11 categories: 

Clean Oceans 

Small Ship Tour Operators Association of British Columbia brings together Canadian-owned and operated small-ship-based travel companies. They received this award for their 2021 Coastal Cleanup which brought together multiple stakeholders to clean up and collect valuable data on the reclaimed debris — documented in a formal report describing the economic benefits of sustaining the tourism sector. This category recognizes an organization that is demonstrating environmental leadership to protect our oceans.

Climate Action 

Polar Engineering is leading their field in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 50-90% at facilities across B.C. with their innovative, custom, and cost-effective industrial refrigeration and energy recovery systems. Juan De Fuca Centre’s use of Polar’s systems resulted in a reduction of GHG emissions by 284 tonnes of CO2 per year — that’s 14,220 trees. This category recognizes an organization or business that is working to reduce/mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

COVID-19 Community Leadership 

Cowichan Green Community made a quick pivot to ensure that the needs of marginalized community members were met during the pandemic by providing emergency meals and food hampers to food insecure households and temporary housing shelters, and by establishing an Emergency Food Task Force.

Outer Shores Expeditions responded to the loss of jobs in the tourism sector with the Marine Debris Removal Initiative (MDRI), an initiative that brought together small ship tourism companies to collect 337 metric tonnes of marine debris over 846 km of shoreline. 

Victoria Distillers responded to the need for hand sanitizer by using the leftover alcohol by-product from their small-batch spirits. They partnered with Nezza Naturals and to produce the sanitizer, distributing it for free to frontline workers, emergency services, and nonprofits. 

The category honours an organization that shifted operational focus during the COVID-19 pandemic to support the needs of our island community.

Ecological Stewardship 

Pacific Wild is promoting kelp growth to save the planet. Their Kelp on Twine Herring Habitat Restoration Project grows thousands of meters of kelp seeded line on a permitted aquaculture lease in Moon Bay, Nelson Island. The kelp lines are a habitat for herring and salmonids that swim the Agamemnon Channel, and sequester carbon to develop restorative kelp farming practices. The category commends a business that is actively working to restore or protect natural ecosystems.

Eco-Preneur of the Year 

Melodie Reynolds of Elate Cosmetics received this award for her ongoing commitment to “change the status quo in the beauty industry.” Elate Cosmetics recently certified as a B-Corp. This category celebrates the work of an individual who has started an impactful eco-venture that has been in operation for three or more years.

Hospitality Heroes

Red Cedar Café received this award for their collective response to meet community needs arising from the pandemic, engaging hundreds of volunteers to provide over 100,000 meals within the year — an effort that diverted 39,000 KG of food waste from landfills. This category honours a hospitality organization that responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by finding inspiring and impactful ways to offer support to the residents and communities in which they operate.


Cascadia Seaweed works in partnership with Indigenous communities to grow a climate-positive crop of ocean cultivated seaweed for consumption (addressing food security), agrifeeds (to reduce methane emissions) and carbon offsets (nature-based climate solution). This category recognizes an organization that has demonstrated innovative sustainability practices, products, technology, and/or services in their industry.

Inspirational new venture 

joni provides affordable and environmentally-friendly menstrual pads for people in need. The company operates on a one-for-one basis — for every pad purchase another is donated. This category celebrates an inspiring new venture that has demonstrated its potential to create widespread positive change and has been operating for less than three years.

Local Food 

Cowichan Valley Co-operative Marketplace connects Vancouver Island food producers directly with customers. In 2020 they put just under half a million dollars directly into the pockets of local producers. Through the pandemic they enabled local farmers to access sales avenues after restaurants and farmers markets were shut down. This category commends an organization that is focused on producing or retailing Vancouver Island products, thereby increasing access to local food and beverage options.

Social Impact  

Community Salons is a community hair bank that, in lieu of tips, offers clients the option to purchase half a haircut for the bank, with owner Jamie McCallum contributing the other half to offer a free haircut to those in need.

Harvest & Share Food Relief Society brings fresh, first-choice food to local food banks and community kitchens. Utilizing the aeroponic planters in collaboration with BC Government House and the City of Victoria’s Get Growing program, volunteers were able to cultivate approximately 7,000 live vegetable plants for the summer of 2021.

This category celebrates an organization that has made a significant impact on addressing social needs.

Waste to resource  

Bin Breeze diverts wood waste from landfill while encouraging users to compost without worrying about odour or fruit flies. They have diverted over 10,000kg of wood waste from being burnt by sequestering this carbon into compost. BinBreeze, a Project Zero Incubator venture in 2019, launched their product in 2020, won the Douglas 10 to Watch Award in 2021 and is now sold in 350 retailers across Canada. This category celebrates an organization that has diverted waste from the landfill by turning waste into value-added material for new products (Sponsored by Capital Regional District).

Douglas magazine is a proud sponsor of the EcoStar Awards.