Over the next several months the Sylvan Lake based e-commerce business of Chamber Office Supplies will be replacing unsustainable inventory items with more friendly and cost-effective alternatives.
The company aims to replace products with an environmentally sustainable option where possible by the end of 2022, said co-owner and director of operations Michael Williams. Over 600 products have been replaced during the first month of the initiative.
“At some point, you have to take a stand for what you believe in and this was it for us. When there are environmentally friendly products available, those are the only ones we will be selling,” Williams said.
In 2020, Michael, his wife and business co-owner Denise partnered with the Alberta Chambers of Commerce to transition the brick and mortar storefront to an e-commerce platform. Chamber Office Supplies donates five per cent of all sales to the chambers across Alberta including the one in Sylvan Lake.
When asked about the costs and impacts on the business, Michael said he was pragmatic in his assessment.
“It will cost us some business as many of the products we will be discontinuing are the low-cost value lines and disposable items such as highlighters, white-out and printer ink cartridges,” he said.
“So, those ‘price-point only’ customers will ultimately go elsewhere. But we’re hoping through our marketing we can educate customers on the environmentally sustainable product options that … businesses can feel good about purchasing at close to the same price.”
That’s not the only step in Michael’s mission to shift his company focus.
In November of 2021, the company acquired a building in Eckville to serve as a depot to collect and refurbish laptops and printers, as well as recycle ink and toner cartidges. This is west country’s only centre for returning used printer ink and toner cartridges, located at 5114 50 Street.
Michael aims to build the most environmentally sustainable office supply company in Canada.
“It’s just taken a while to get the courage to actually walk the talk,” said Michael. “I’m no eco-warrior. The truth is that we will still be selling products that have no environmentally sustainable alternative – but should those alternatives become available, we will make those changes.”