Tag Archives: Sustainable Business

Title image with product shot of various chocolates

At Beta 5 Creating Chocolate Is A Work Of Art

14 Jun

You’d be excused for thinking the storefront of a chocolatier hidden in an industrial area of Vancouver wouldn’t be particularly busy on a Thursday afternoon. But the steady traffic of customers showed that people obviously know where to find them.

BETA5 Retail Space

Beta 5 was created by Adam Chandler and Jessica Rosinski, who had a creative vision for pushing the boundaries of chocolate. The name Beta 5 refers to the form-5 beta crystal structure, a stable form of cocoa butter crystallization that is created when chocolate is properly tempered.

I visited Beta 5 to learn about their unique approach to chocolate. As Adam gave me a tour of their kitchens, he shared their philosophy and how they take great care in the process, opting for methods that are more time consuming but yield a better product.

BETA5 Adam Portrait infront of fridge holding tray of choclates

Why did you start Beta 5?

Adam: It was the desire to have a creative outlet.

I had spent 10 years in the industry working for other people and while I still had my own creative vision, it was always being influenced by the people I worked for.

In pastry, you are limited in the opportunities available to you, so the purpose of Beta 5 was to have a space where we could explore our creative vision we saw for pastry and chocolate.

BETA5 CreamPuffs

What inspires your work?

Adam: There’s not really one thing in particular. For a lot of the core product, it starts with the ingredient. We want to showcase the qualities of main ingredient.

For example for the Okanagan dark chocolate cherries, we don’t want either the chocolate or the cherries to overwhelm each other. We search for the best quality cherries we can find and then pair them with chocolate that goes well with those particular cherries.

There’s a lot of stuff we do that is a lot more out of the box. In those instances we pull inspiration from any number of places. An idea like camping, outer space or tropical vacation and then work backwards and try to tell the story. We use textures, flavours and colours that convey the bigger idea and start to tell the story.

BETA5 chocolate production

What makes Beta 5 different?

Adam: The creative approach we take. While we want to do things differently, we really want to challenge ourselves and see what is possible.

A lot of others do what has been done before. We like to push the boundaries, using vegetables and different ingredients that you wouldn’t necessarily think of when you think of pastry and chocolate.

We want to explore the possibilities of those types of ingredients to create something different and add something new to the conversation.

A lot of chocolate is rich and comforting and perfect for winter. We paired cucumber, mint and chocolate because we wanted to come up with a flavour that would be light, crisp and refreshing. Something that people would want to eat in summer.

verdantforce product photo

What are the values that drive Beta 5?

Adam: The two things more important to us than creativity are quality and consistency.

Our creativity has no value if we aren’t putting out a quality product, consistently. We want people to depend on us as a supplier and know that everything we produce is the highest quality. We need to develop that trust so we can push the envelope and have people take a risk and try the new things we create.

Describe a typical day at Beta 5

Adam: There really isn’t a typical day at Beta 5. We designed it that way.

Things are much more repetitive in bigger production environments and we wanted to be inspired to come to work.

BETA5 chocolate production

We run a small, well-trained production team who are trained in everything. Each day there is a lot of variety. The day could be spent making bars or caramelizing nuts or pebbles or polishing and painting molds. The only typical part is that it’s a day spent around chocolate.

For me the variety makes for a more enjoyable experience.

At Saul Good Gift Co. many of our gift baskets include Beta 5’s delicious chocolates. You can see the full section here

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Title image with wine and champagne bottles and glasses

Are Wine, Spirits or Alcohol a Good Corporate Gift?

30 May

For those who enjoy alcohol a thoughtfully selected bottle may seem like the perfect gift.

And while that might be true for people in your personal life, it’s tricky when it comes to corporate gifts.

Alcohol is a controversial gift for reasons that may not be obvious. Consider how much you know about the person.

Two people with thought blue bubble above their heads

Assumptions can be risky when you don’t know any of the following information:

  • Personal struggles with alcoholism or addiction. Many recovering addicts aren’t necessarily open about their battles with alcohol, especially in their professional environments.
  • Challenging family history with alcohol. People with relatives that have a history of alcoholism may have strong aversions to alcohol.
  • Religion. Some of the religions that may avoid alcohol include branches of Christianity, Muslims, Jainism and Buddhists.
  • Personal preference. Some people avoid alcohol for weight loss, health, mental wellbeing and athletic goals. Others only like certain types of alcohol.
  • Corporate policies. Some workplaces have corporate policies about receiving alcohol.

Build Better Relationships With The Right Gift

Gifts are about building and nurturing relationships and you jeopardize that if the gift offends the receiver.

When gifting alcohol it’s important to be 100% certain that it will be well received. In a professional setting, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

When selecting a gift for someone consider the purpose for the gift:

  • Is it for a business or personal milestone?
  • Are they a client or employee?
  • Is it going to a group or individual

By customizing the gift so it’s appropriate to the occasion, you’ll create a more meaningful experience.

hands receiving a gift with red bow on top

If the gift will be received in the person’s workplace, it’s an opportunity for them to also receive public recognition and feel special.

Obviously we are big fans of gift boxes. The experience of receiving a box, opening it and finding beautifully curated items gives people a prolonged experience of joy compared to opening a gift bag that obviously has a bottle inside.

What ever you decide, put yourself in the receiver’s shoes, how would you feel if you received the gift? Does it feel meaningful?

If you need help selecting a gift for any occasion, check out our gift guide below to help you decide the right type of basket for the occasion.

Gift guide flowchart


SOLEfood CSA Shares are a Nourishing and Unique Local Gift

23 Feb


When we find local, organic gifts that are meaningful and unique, it is our duty to report these findings to you. We recently discovered a great local gift that nourishes the gift recipient while healing Vancouver’s Downtown East Side.




Why are CSA shares from SOLEfood an awesome gift?




1) Nourishing your gift recipient with a weekly supply of fresh, local and organic produce:




The fresh delicious food can be picked-up from the farm, from the farmer’s market or it can be delivered by Shift Delivery.











2) Creating jobs and economic health in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side:




SOLEfood employs residents from Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. When you purchase a SOLEfood CSA membership, you make a commitment to the farm and the farmers at the beginning of the season by paying in advance for a portion of the farm’s products throughout the season. This guarantees the farm a market for its products, provides members with fresh food at a discount, and fosters responsible relationships between farmer, eater, and the land where the food is grown.







3)  Feeding hungry folks who can’t afford organic produce:




SOLEfood creates high end produce that is purchased by some of Vancouver’s finest restaurants. They also use this produce to nourish non-profits and local families who can’t afford expensive organic food. If folks cannot afford the bountiful goodness of fresh organic SOLEfood, they can become eligible to have food credits. When you sign up to become a member, you can choose to contribute to the low-income share program. This program provides low-income families with a $100 credit to spend on SOLEfood Farm fruits and veggies.




4) Building Community:




When Saul Good visits SOLEfood, the farmers talk about community and being a part of something larger than themselves. We get to see the community surrounding the farm expand into farmer’s markets and connect directly to local families.




5) Greening Vancouver’s inner city.




The SOLEfood Story: It Began with an Empty Lot and an Idea




The SOLEfood Inner City Farm began with an idea and an empty asphalt lot beside the Astoria Hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. The only signs of greenery were tenacious tufts of grass pushing through cracks in the concrete. Alongside the emptiness, there was a Cold Beer & Wine Store, a bar, and a hotel. There was prostitution and drug abuse that generated steadily from the emptiness.











It was hard to imagine that this space would one day become a source of healing for our city. The SOLEfood inner city farm is more than a green initiative, It is healing our city through job creation, economic stimulation, nourishing food, and community building.








In the beginning it was all about creating opportunities for people to gain skills, nourishment and employment, turning an empty lot into a productive positive space. As the conversations unfolded throughout our community and the Strathcona Business Improvement Association, Seann Dory picked up these ideas and ran with them. He worked relentlessly to translate these ideas into tangible reality.




On Saturday, October 31st, 2009, a group of fifty volunteers woke up bright and early, in order to build raised garden beds and green houses for the SOLEfood inner city farm. The sun generated warmth that day. Sean Dorrey rolled up his sleeves alongside the swarm of inspired volunteers. He grinned from ear to ear as he dug his hands into soil that was merely a possibility.







City Councilors, such as Andrea Reimer understand the multifaceted benefits of inner-city farms, “The movement is all about finding ways to provide people with the framework they need to feed themselves, rather than simply giving them food. And that’s very cool.” -Councilor Reimer






Local Vancouver gifts as organic living art: Why we love The Olla Urban Flower Project

25 Jan



The Olla Flower Project was created by Megan Branson and Dionne Finch. According to Megan, these two women wove together a true obsession for plants and flowers with a vision: A small business committed to community engagement and sustainable flower production.






Flowers are a great gift that activates a multi-sensory experience of beauty. Although flowers are a gift that rarely fail…Do you ever wonder how can we take this traditional gift to the next level of creativity, thoughtfulness and meaning? Olla flower arrangements carry a great story and unique beauty.



5 Reasons why we love the Olla Urban Flower Project



1. Creativity: These arrangements are living art. When someone receives an Olla creation and places it in their home or office, they are given the gift of great conversations. Each person will have their own interpretation of what they see. Olla’s designs “focus the eye on the beauty of each botanical element whether it be a minimalist or opulent arrangement”. In addition to bouquets, Olla creates terrariums, living walls and many other objects of beauty.





2. Local and organic: Every stem used in each flower design is sourced from an urban farm/garden, a local farm/greenhouse, or it is from a Fair Trade/Veriflora certified farm. Arrangements feature flowers from British Columbia’s interior: Bathtub Gardens in beautiful Pemberton Valley and Okanagan Fair Flowers in Similkameen valley. Olla has also worked with the SOLEfood urban farm in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side.





3. Socially Responsible: Olla is a social enterprise that is accountable to the community. It is a business that is designed to generate jobs and prosperity in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. In addition to generating socio-economic goodness, Olla spreads beauty throughout the community with re-purposed bouquets. When a corporate event is over, Olla helps prolong the life of the flowers by redirecting them towards organizations operating in the DTES.




4. Environmentally Responsible: All green waste is sent to local composting projects and Olla is working with suppliers to decrease packaging. Flowers and foliage are local whenever possible and certified organic.





5. Unique and long lasting: My bouquet can last up to a month if the water is refreshed and the stems are trimmed every few days. It can also become an awesome dried arrangement that lasts years. There is an abundance of uniqueness that expands beyond these bouquets. Check out the Olla Flower Project in person!

good company vs.jpg

Proud to be a Founding Canadian B Corp Company

16 Jan


When a company is a B Corp, it provides certainty. It allows us to know the difference between “good” companies and good marketingI was first introduced to B Corp back in 2007. At the time, I was a wide-eyed MBA student…only a month away from completing my MBA program in sustainable business at BGI.


One of my classmates, Mary Rick (@maryrick) was organizing a Balle Conference in San Francisco and she encouraged our class to attend. I decided to travel down with classmates and check it out. When I made this decision, I didn’t realize that we would be witnessing a pivotal point in history.


At the Balle Conference of 2007, the launch of Benefit Corporations was announced. The vision of this new movement is to “create a new sector of the economy which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. This sector will be comprised of a new type of corporation – the B Corporation – that meets rigorous and independent standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency”.


The Saul Good Gift Co. became a founding Canadian B-Corp member. As a member, we are grateful to stand among many great companies throughout North America and watch the B Corp vision become reality.


Since the latest B Corp developments in California, the founder of Patagonia spoke to the media about what this development means to him personally, “I hope that five years from now, ten years from now, we’ll look back and say this was the start of the revolution. The existing paradigm isn’t working anymore—this is the future.”

– Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia




When the Saul Good Gift Co. joined the B-Corp community, we made a declaration that the directors of our company will always consider the environment and community in addition to profit. We disclose information related to our environmental and community impact, in addition to how we work with employees, customers and our transparency. This helps us to set the bar for what it means to be a progressive business.


California is one of six US States shifting corporate law, in order to facilitate social and environmental progress through Benefit Corporations. On Friday, January 13th, 2012, The Stanford Daily explained, “In a ‘middle ground’ between [for-profit and non-profit] extremes, a new type of corporation is emerging, with California the latest but surely not the last state to legally enshrine so-called ‘B Corp’ status.”


I look forward to seeing more businesses join this movement! So much has happened since 2007. Hopefully, the progress of B Corp will expand exponentially and we will see some legislation shift in Canada.


How Paul Hawken Inspired the Creation of Saul Good Gift Co.

16 Nov

Last night, Paul Hawken spoke at Vancouver’s historic Orpheum Theatre. The room was packed with social entrepreneurs and inspired Vancouverites, who want to improve the world for our children, and our children’s children. I was happy to see some great local characters in the house! There were students and alumni from Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI), local business leaders, (Salt Spring Coffee, Climate Smart, SHIFT Urban Cargo Delivery, Save on Meats, Recycling Alternative), investors (Renewal Partners), non-profit leaders (LOCO BC, SOLE Food Urban Farm, Hollyhock, SFU Woodwards) and local manufacturers (Crown Skis).

Last night was a meaningful evening for me, because Paul Hawken inspired me to embark on the path that led me towards creating local, eco-friendly and socially responsible gift baskets in Vancouver BC. This path began during my undergraduate degree when I was a wide-eyed idealistic Environmental Studies student at the University of Victoria. As I learned more about the state of our planet, I became increasingly daunted by the challenges facing my generation. Although I was well-versed in the problems, I was unsure of where I could find solutions. In the Spring of 2001, I was lucky to read a transcript from a presentation by Paul Hawken.

Hawken’s work helped me to realize that business is an ideal opportunity to address social and environmental issues. He provided a framework for proactive solutions and inspired me to investigate opportunities for strategic change. On a finite planet with limited resources, how can an exponentially growing population survive in a system that continually depletes the Earth’s assets like we’re living off the interest? Innovative solutions are urgently essential.

After studying Hawken’s work, I shifted my path towards sustainable business and enrolled in the Bainbridge Graduate Institue (BGI). This unique graduate school allowed me to dig deeper and explore solutions to social and environmental problems. Through innovation in material, energy and resource use, business can create value beyond profit. In addition to environmental solutions, it is important to look at our planet as one interconnected system and examine how we treat each other.

As humans, we are not separate from the environment and we must find ways to treat each other like precious resources, that cannot be carelessly harmed and mistreated on behalf of financial “gain”. Social enterprises can create important solutions through green jobs, living wages and social justice.

Last night’s inspirational evening was hosted by Vancity Credit Union. In addition to hosting Paul Hawken, Vancity was celebrating 65 years of investing and doing business in Vancouver. This last spring I made a commitment to shift my business banking to a local credit union. I’m proud to announce that we’ve recently started doing business banking with Vancity. As the Saul Good Gift Co. continues to grow, we look forward to nourishing and strengthening relationships throughout our local economy and community.

For more photos from the Paul Hawken event, please click here.


Delivering Gift Baskets with a Shift Delivery Tricycle!

04 Nov

In our previous post, we discussed Climate Smart and how we focus on improving aspects of our business that have the greatest environmental impact: Shipping and Paper use. We are constantly trying to improve and we decided to share a glimpse of how fun this process can be!




In the video above, we are delivering new home gift baskets in Vancouver’s downtown core for new home owners.




How Low Can Our Impact Go?




Our method of transportation with this delivery is through Shift Delivery. As you can see in the video, these guys are awesome! They are replacing conventional delivery trucks by delivering products (up to 600 pounds ) on heavy-duty cargo trikes.








The gifts feature Sapadilla green cleaning products. These products are made locally in North Vancouver with premium plant-based ingredients that are naturally effective and kind to your skin. These products are never tested on animals and they smell amazing!












We always look forward to taking our work to the next level. Stay tuned for more Saul Good adventures!




Classy Climate Smart Gifts Versus Over-Packaged, Over-Done Gift Baskets Wrapped in Plastic

31 Oct



Our business was born with the realization that 50 million gift baskets were going into landfills every year. Why should gift experiences generate waste that cannot be re-used or recycled? What does a wasteful gift wrapped in plastic say about your relationship with your friends, family and business associates?



From day one, we have been committed to locally sourced products and recyclable packaging. At the Saul Good Gift Co., we use 100% recycled and reclaimed paper packaging that is Ancient Forest Free certified.







How Do We Reduce Our Carbon Footprint?


As we maintain alignment with our core principles, we are also facing the reality of a growing business and a larger carbon footprint. Our work with Climate Smart has provided important guidance. This local Vancouver social enterprise helps businesses measure and reduce their carbon footprint while cutting costs.


We measure the intensity of our carbon footprint in pounds per $100K in revenue. In 2009, we measured 12.9 pounds. In 2010, we measured 5.6 pounds. Even though the total emissions increased from 2009 to 2010 so did the number of gift baskets we produced. We improved our carbon intensity so that the emissions per dollar decreased by more than 50%. Go team!







Where is our Largest Impact?


Shipping is a large impact for us.To address this we’ve selected carriers that are carbon neutral and that use hybrid vehicles. For downtown Vancouver gift basket deliveries we work with Shift Delivery, a hybrid electric tricycle delivery business.



Novex is one of our main couriers. They launched Canada’s 1st 100% electric delivery trucks earlier this year and are Vancouver’s most sustainable courier. For products shipped outside the Lower Mainland we use UPS, which uses alternative fuel vehicles and have recently launched an offset program for emissions generated by shipping



Paper use is currently our largest contributor of greenhouse gases. Our gift baskets are made with cardboard. In 2009 we changed the production of all our packaging to use 100% post consumer recycled paper. Although we are proud of our practices, there is a small amount of packaging materials that are not 100% recycled. We will continue to search for suppliers with 100% recycled options.




How Can We Improve?


In order for us to reduce the intensity of our impact we need to address our packaging in a deeper way. Moving to 100% recycled cardboard was a great first step, but we do not consider this an arrival point. We are continually looking for opportunities to improve.



The next step for us is addressing paper intensity, finding ways to use less paper fibre, by weight, per gift box produced.



We are excited about opportunities to reduce our use of paper fibre through innovative design. If we can find ways to redesign the construction of out gift boxes, so they use less materials, we’ll have a solution to reduce our paper intensity.


As Saul Good grows to cities across Canada and down the West Coast, we will continue to work with local suppliers to keep our gifts close to home. Over this past year we’ve established an Ontario based business with all products sourced local to Toronto.



Vancouver's Green Zone: How Strathcona is changing how business gets done

26 May

Business is a challenging game. Besides having the ability to meet people’s needs in a valuable way, it comes down to strategy, execution and timing. People come together to make things happen and luck is always a factor. After all, there are only so many things one can control. I can’t think of any one person who is in business alone. It’s all about relationships and it takes time to build them meaningfully. As we approach the 5th anniversary at Saul Good I realize this more than ever, looking back at how it started with me in my bedroom and has grown with the help of friends, contractors, employees, consultants, allies, clients, competitors, suppliers and community. It takes a village.

Working together is at the root of the mandate behind the Strathcona Business improvement Association (BIA). Given their focus in how we can individually and collectively work on social and environmental issues to improve our businesses and the community is one of the reasons why Strathcona makes a great home for Saul Good. Collaboration can be a powerful force in growing a business.

As part of the Green Zone initiative the Strathcona BIA produced a series of videos highlighting their members to tell the stories emerging from the area. I never thought that corporate gift baskets would be my dream but it’s certainly become my passion. Business can be a powerful tool to create change and I’m glad to have found a place in the Strathcona community.

Still pumping gas but doing something about it

08 Mar

Over the last couple years we’ve been working with Bullfrog Power to purchase Green Power Certificates for our use of electricity. It was an easy way to support the development of renewable energy projects in BC, in that case the Bear Mountain wind energy project. Even though our province mainly uses renewable hydro power to meet our electricity needs, the more renewable energy projects the better I say. Bullfrog has just launched a new program, 100% green natural gas. Green natural gas? What’s up with that? As I learned a bit more I thought it was another great project to support.

Green Natural Gas – What’s up with that?

Landfills create methane, a greenhouse gas about 25 times more powerful than CO2, which gets released into the atmosphere. Many landfills across Canada are mandated to cap landfills to trap the methane, then, at a minimum, flare it to create CO2, the lesser of two evils in this case. Some landfill methane projects use the gas to run turbines and create electricity, a fairly well developed practice at this point. With our support as Green Natural Gas Bullfrog users are helping to support the development of a landfill methane project in Quebec that’s cleaning captured methane which is then fed into natural gas pipelines and used by area homes and businesses. Although we won’t directly be using this ‘green natural gas’ it’s helping to build a business case for the development of this new type of renewable energy technology.

What about subsidies, isn’t that the government’s job?

The Canadian Government, ooops, I mean The Harper Government, has been subsidizing the oil and natural gas from the beginning. Without subsidies we wouldn’t have the natural resource sector that we have today. It’s how an industry develops as production costs usually start higher than the market can bare. It’s what’s needed to get things going. A more forward thinking government would be doing this for us. Instead it’s left to forward thinking businesses and individuals to make it happen. That’s where we’re at!

What about reduction? Isn’t this just paying to justify pollution?

Responsible business starts with understanding one’s footprint, followed by finding ways to reduce use before looking at offsets or green power certificates (GPCs). We worked with Climate Smart to help us with our greenhouse gas inventory to get a benchmark for where we’re at as a business and our impact on the environment. Offsets and GPCs are the end of the line, not the be all and end all. As most businesses find, as they dig a little into how they use resources find innovative and creative ways to reduce use, saving money and the environment. One of the ways we’ve been able to minimize our impact at Saul Good is by sharing office and warehouse space with Eclipse Awards, another Bullfrog Powered business who we’ve build a great relationship with over the last few years. Never underestimate the power of collaboration, its not just about you and me out there, it’s about us all.