In this SDG Awards 2017 entry:
Voting Category: Small-to-Medium Organization
Enviro-Stewards is committed to help achieve the following SDGs:
- SDG 1: No Poverty
- SDG 2: Zero Hunger
- SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
- SDG 4: Quality Education
- SDG 5: Gender Equality
- SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
- SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
- SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
- SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
- SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
- SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
- SDG 13: Climate Action
- SDG 15: Life on Land
- SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
- SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals
Enviro-Stewards drives action towards the SDGs in Canada and abroad through both their professional and development-based work. They work with manufacturers to drastically reduce resource consumption and waste production. Projects typically reduce consumption of water and energy by over 30% and result in payback periods of under one year, helping companies achieve their bottom line. In addition to the environmental benefits they provide in the manufacturing sector, they also pay a living wage to all employees and foster a diverse and inclusive work environment. Furthermore, the culture of conservation and environmental responsibility is ingrained into the workplace through a bike-to-work challenge, frequent carpooling, a rain-water harvesting system and living wall in the office, billable volunteer hours, and in-house energy and waste monitoring.
In addition to their consulting work, Enviro-Stewards runs the Safe Water Project which trains people to run businesses selling bio-sand filters throughout South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. This project aims to create capacity in developing regions for entrepreneurs and motivated individuals to construct, sell, and maintain bio-sand filters in surrounding communities. Enviro-Stewards employees have travelled to these locations to personally train individuals to start, operate such a business and market the benefits of the filter. The filters provide clean water with minimal maintenance for up to 25 years, greatly reducing expenditure and suffering from waterborne illnesses such as typhoid, diarrhea, and worms. They eliminate the need to boil water which requires wood or charcoal. This improves the quality of household air, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, preserves forested lands and eliminates time and energy required to gather resources. The money saved by community members through treating their water and avoiding alternative expenditures can then be used for food, school fees or starting a local business. Furthermore, the use of local materials to construct the filters helps to stimulate the local economy and further reduce dependence on external organizations.
Instead of Enviro-Stewards donating the filters, community members are required to purchase them through different payment options depending on their financial situation. Vulnerable community members can have a portion of the filters donated through sources such as corporate sponsors, as seen above through Tim Hortons Fruition Fruit & Fills, Andrew Peller and Maple Leaf, as they should still be able to have access to safe water despite their financial situation. By requiring the able community members to purchase the filters, the business can turn a profit and be sustained without external assistance, allowing the money to circulate within the local economy. This project satisfies almost all of the sustainable development goals as it improves health and economic well-being. Men and women are trained and participate equally in the projects and cooperation and partnerships are fostered within the team.
To date, the biosand filter projects have:
- Sold over 600 recorded filters providing over 38,000,000 litres of safe water
- Conserved over 3,500 trees from being cut down for firewood amounting to approximately 7,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas reduction
- Prevented over 1,700 potential cases of typhoid
To date, the recommendations from our engineering assessments have conserved:
- Water to fill over 2,800 Olympic swimming pools
- Tonnes of greenhouse gasses equivalent to over 400 blue whales
- Tonnes of waste equivalent to over 280 blue whales.
Some noteworthy projects to date include:
- An energy assessment of Southbrook Vineyards which conserved 38% of electricity and 41% of natural gas with a combined payback of 4 months and greenhouse gas reduction of 65 tonnes per year in 2017. This allowed 33% less solar panels to be installed on their grounds which conserved enough plants to produce 50 cases per year of wine.
- A wastewater assessment of Tim Horton’s Fruition Fruit and Fills which reduced organic discharges by 88%, greenhouse gas emissions, electricity and natural gas by 30%, wastewater discharges by 75% and waste to landfill by 80%. The conservation measures are saving the facility about $490,000/year with a 5-month payback. This project also sponsored 40 bio-sand filters in South Sudan and won a Top 15 Projects for 2014 award by Delta Management’s Clean50.
- An energy, water and wastewater assessment of 33 Maple Leaf facilities across Canada during 2016 to help them reach their 50% reduction targets. The success of these audits resulted in sponsoring 33 biosand filters in Koboko, Uganda.
These resource conservation measures allow Canadian organizations to save money, benefiting the economy and potentially preserving or creating jobs. The savings from all projects have amounted to over $53,000,000 to date. Furthermore, our bike-to-work challenge has avoided over 1,130 km driven.
The Safe Water project addresses issues of health, social injustice, poverty, and inequality. It originated in Kajo Keji, South Sudan in 2007. The projects have subsequently reproduced in Juba and Yei, South Sudan, Kenya, and recently in Northern Uganda. In the first few years, the projects in these areas helped provide over 1800 with safe drinking water. Furthermore, other NGOs that were trained by the individuals from the Kajo Keji project started their own and helped provide safe water to over 35,000 more. In addition, the Safe Water Project has helped train individuals like Matthew who is now a South Sudanese refugee who is running his own social venture, the Kambagiri Foundation. He is now a mentor for the constructing and selling biosand filters in Koboko, Uganda. His sales have provided safe water for over 200 people per month in 2017. Records of his sales and the story of each sale along with a picture of the family can be found in the supplementary document. This past February, Enviro-Stewards employees also travelled to Koboko and trained 50 commissioned community health agents on how biosand filters work, how to sell them within the community, and basic business concepts.
We are working on expanding the Safe Water Project through providing an online training resource that is easily accessible. It is currently in progress and will outline the benefits of a development model rather than a donation model which stem from the fact that development-based models do not create a dependency on external donors. Both aspiring entrepreneurs and existing charities will be encouraged to use the resource to help provide capacity and connections in developing regions suffering from poverty, economic instability, and waterborne illnesses. Furthermore, we are contributing to the development of a food-waste prevention toolkit that will quantify the economic savings and environmental benefits of preventing waste within the food and beverage manufacturing sector. This will be an online, easy-to-use tool that companies can use to audit and assess the impacts of inefficiencies in their processes. A case study in which the preliminary version of this toolkit was used can be seen in the supplementary material. We are also working on an in-house audit of energy and water consumption to address major opportunities for conservation in the office.
In our engineering consulting projects, we partner with our clients to provide feasible and impactful opportunities for savings. We do not provide recommendations without consideration of their input and are willing to support our clients through the procurement and implementation phase. During each project, we conduct a progress meeting where preliminary opportunities are discussed and a representative team from the company (including the CEO, CFO, maintenance crew, etc.) can share their diverse input on each opportunity. Based on this discussion, recommendations are modified for the final report submission. Many of our engineering clients subsequently choose to partner in our Safe Water Projects, as seen here http://www.thesafewaterproject.org/partners/.
In addition to this, Enviro-Stewards is currently operating in a partnership with 2cg and Dillon consulting firms, and Provision Coalition- a non-profit industry association working towards enhancing sustainability in the food and beverage industry. Together, we are working on a food waste prevention toolkit that will allow manufacturers to quantify their waste in both dollar value and environmental impact of the entire supply chain. Furthermore, we partner with municipalities (City of Toronto and York Region) to perform water audits and provide recommendations for conservation opportunities in both public and private facilities. Moreover, we partner with the organizations and projects created through the Safe Water Project, such as Avant, a charity that develops grass roots leaders, and CAWST and other NGOs that offer our training sessions. We also partner with local NGOs to own and develop projects such as the Kambagiri Foundation started by Matthew. Through aiming to expand the Safe Water Project, we are also exploring the potential for existing organizations to implement bio-sand filter projects. We have had promising conversations with Kenyan Kids Foundation and Rotary Club about future partnerships for these projects.