Ethical Canadian Brands: Companies with Good Karma

Ethical Canadian brands are my favourite brands, eh!

I have had the pleasure of working with many brands since I launched this modest little blog as a new mom with one little wolf cub.

Three more cubs and almost a decade later, I have seen companies launch and fail, and companies launch and truly take off. I’ve seen brands completely change direction, ownership, suppliers, and marketing strategies; some with success and some without. I’ve had companies treat my work with respect, appreciation, and appropriate compensation. I have had others completely undervalue it.

I have also been witness to a tidal wave of change in how companies reach their customers: when my blog first started THERE. WAS. NO. INSTAGRAM.

Over the years, I’ve interacted with companies as a freelancer, a blogger, a social media influencer, a customer, and a follower.

And I have opinions.

You might wonder: What makes me want to endorse one company over another? How am I compensated for these endorsements? Will I do anything for the right price? Which companies do I think have good karma?

Firstly, let me assure you that payment and/or free stuff is by no means a guarantee that I will talk about a brand or product on my blog and social media. I have been offered payment (or free products) from companies that I have turned down. Sometimes I am approached with offers to test out products that have absolutely zero relevance to my life. Sure, it might be a free product. Sure, they might be offering payment or commission. But I am a terrible liar, and I am not going to pretend that I have a dog when I am very clearly a cat person.  (Inexplicably I am often invited to be an ambassador for all sorts of dog products. Dog products and fitness products. From brands who claim to love my feed and think I would be a great fit for them.)

While I absolutely endeavour to run my blog and social media at a profit, I do not profit off of recommending things to you that I do not truly believe in. And most of the things I truly believe in are made by relatively small companies that cannot pay me enough to not have to go back to substitute teaching.

The companies I am about to introduce you to; the ethical companies I deem as having good karma, all fit the following Good Karma Criteria:

  • They are ethical in their treatment of employees, customers and all humans along their supply chain;
  • They produce a product or products that are truly helpful;
  • They produce products that help folks live more sustainably;
  • They are Canadian.*

*Note that I have no Alberta beef with American companies, but to American companies, Canadian consumers are the smallest of Idaho potatoes. They do not go out of their way to attract us nor retain us, and they often charge obnoxiously high shipping fees considering how much cheaper it actually is for them to ship across the 49th parallel.

I use products by all of these brands on an almost daily basis, and many of them have been part of my daily life for many years.

So without further ado—and with the full transparency that I earn commission when you follow most of my links—here is my alphabetized ethical brands list:

5 Ethical Canadian Brands

1- An ethical Canadian Brand that is indigenous-owned: Aurora Heat

The most recent brand to join my good karma stable is Aurora Heat.

They reached out to me via email and then via my Instagram. I get quite a few messages this way from brands that say things like, “We love your content and think XYZ product will be a great fit for you and your followers!” The product is often nutritional supplements, dog toys or exercise equipment. None of these things appear EVER on my feed so… their pitch is built on LIES!

Aurora Heat’s message piqued my interest because it started off with “Salut, Lindsay!” This told me two things: One, they had seen enough of my content to realize I speak French. Two, they had bothered to learn my name. I cannot tell you how many emails I get that start of with “Hey Maman!”; « Dear Ms. Loup,” Or … perhaps my favourite, “Dear [insert name here].”

In their elevator pitch for why I should promote their brand, it was clear that they could tell that sustainability is one of the main pillars of my social media content and also that I live somewhere where beaver-fur bodywarmers would be useful.

I did a lovely Zoom call with Aurora Heat, allowing them to present their product line to me and explain their company values, and then it was without hesitation that the first step was for me to test out their products on myself and my family to make sure they were a good fit before beginning any type of promotion. I do not sign up to be an affiliate for a company if I have not personally used and loved their products!

And as history shows, Aurora Heat body warmers have been an enormous success for me. And had they not been? Well, you probably would never have heard about them from me. I have received products in the past that have turned out to not be a good fit at all, and that I have not felt I could ethically promote. In that case, I offer to return the products to the company at my own expense.

You’ll notice a trend among the companies on this list, and Aurora Heat is no exception. I have had personal contact with not only the company’s founder but also their social media team, and everyone has been a delight to work with and has been effusive in their gratitude and enjoyment of the content I have created to promote their brand. I am not a professional influencer. I do not post edited pictures taken in a beautifully appointed home, I’m just a real person standing before my audience, suggesting they try the products I love. And I love that Aurora Heat appreciates this about me!

Aurora Heat’s products are sustainable, ethically produced and effective, and they have been effusive and generous in their gratitude and praise for the work I have done promoting them. (They may or may not speak my love language better than … my husband.)

2- An Ethical Canadian Brand prioritizing kind capitalism: Lil’ Helper

My kids are out of diapers and training pants, and while we did work with Lil’ Helper in an official capacity near the end of our cloth diapering journey, they weren’t the main diaper in our stash. So why are they on this list?

Have you met Uncle Mo?

The cloth diaper industry has changed a lot since I was drunk on power at the height of my influence as a cloth diaper blogger. Many brands have completely disappeared, others have changed ownership and become unavailable in North America. Lil’ Helper started, like me, in the early 2010s and they are still going strong, which is more than I can say for many of the brands I’ve tried since my son was born in 2012. Longevity is NOT something that many Canadian cloth diaper brands can claim … so this is a good sign in and of itself.

Besides the brands themselves changing, the social media landscape has evolved immensely. When Maman Loup (and Lil’ Helper) first started, Instagram wasn’t even a thing yet. As we all well know, the way that brands are now reaching customers is through TikTok. And without having to dance or master complicated transitions, Lil’ Helper has introduced cloth diapers, reusable menstrual products, reusable snack bags and reusable waterproof mats to a whole new generation of consumers!

What I hate about TikTok (and why my comments are turned off on that platform) are the judgmental keyboard warriors ready to critique and insult literally anything they do not understand. I got enough grief posting about car seat best practices, you can only imagine the kind of heckling Uncle Mo, a middle-aged Brown man, receives when describing reusable menstrual products. AND THIS MAN REPLIES WITH KINDNESS. He replies to the snarkiest of comments with pure goodness and humour and it is amazing. And what endears him and his company so greatly to me is is this very kindness.

I always watch his TikToks on Instagram, where all the old people watch recycled TikTok content. And I always interact with it because I love it.

One day Uncle Mo slid into my DMs with a super sweet voice message thanking me for my interactions. And it just confirmed everything I love about his brand. It is genuine. It promotes sustainability, equity, and kind capitalism. It does more to end the stigma around menstruation than any mainstream period brand has in a century.

Lifesaver XL Mat for all messy crafts!

We use the Life Saver XL Mat around the house for a wide range of purposes, and just let Uncle Mo tell you all about how it’s great for adult activities, too. If you still have kids in diapers I highly recommend Lil’ Helper for an affordable, effective system that is backed by a truly kind company.

Seriously, even if you’re not in the market for anything Lil’ Helper is selling, just watch a few of Mo’s videos that are either responses to truly agitated TikTokkers or stitches offering eco-friendly solutions to various  parenting hacks. Maybe you didn’t think a man could … or even should be the face of a company making reusable menstrual products. But let me assure you that Mo is absolutely up to the task and I hope that if I haven’t convinced you to switch to reusables (whether diapers, pads, wipes or otherwise), just let Mo take a crack at you.

I will specify that Lil’ Helper is the only brand on this list that does not manufacture its products in Canada. I think it’s important to acknowledge that it is simply not possible for all brands to do so, and that a commitment to ethical production can also include overseas manufacturing.

3- An Ethical Canadian Brand with zero-waste ideology: Myni

I first heard about Myni products (which has changed names a couple times) through my work with Öko Creations (you’ll read about them next).

Myni makes concentrated tablets and powders that, once added to water, create various home and body cleaning products.

It’s quite genius really: if we know that most liquid cleaning products are primarily made of water, why are we shipping water to and fro across the continent when consumers can simply add the water at home?

I don’t have as close a relationship with Myni’s founders as I do with the other brands on this list, but I have still found our collaboration to be beneficial. A true indication of how much I love and actively use their products is that I always reinvest the commission I earn into more Myni products either for my house or as gifts.

In terms of sustainability, I think their product design speaks for itself. If more households adopted Myni cleaners, think how empty our recycling bins would be! No more spray bottles, no more handsoap bottles, no more shampoo, body wash and conditioner bottles (I haven’t tried their shower products yet, full disclosure) … did I mention the little pouches themselves just go in the compost?

There are a lot of sustainable choices I make in my life that don’t appeal to folks because there’s a large up-front investment, the time commitment seems too high, the practicality seems too low or even the ick factor of washing bodily fluids is too much for them. Myni is really, really inexpensive; really, really easy to use; requires no extra time or effort and truly does reduce a household’s eco footprint even if they just swap ONE type of cleaner for Myni.

4- An Ethical Canadian Brand that is women-run: Öko Creations

Sometimes you just have to shoot your shot.

Being a budding blogger is like being on Tinder, I imagine, given that all I know about Tinder I learned on the Tinder Swindler. You see a brand that you think fits all your dream-brand criteria and you want to work with them, so you swipe right (or send an email) and tell them all about why they should date you/work with you.

For Öko Creations, I approached them because they were a brand that fit both my “good karma” checklist but also because they had a website with poorly translated English text that could use my assistance as a newly graduated holder of a Diploma in Translation.

The rest, as they say, is history. I started as their English-content-reviser and have gone on to  write for their blog, manage their social media, translate their new content and also promote their products as an affiliate.

Of all the brands on this list, I am most directly privy to the behind the scenes workings of Öko. I see the kindness and care with which they treat everyone in the Öko family, from the sewists to the long-distance social media managers.

While Öko does resell products made by other companies (and Öko picks its collaborators very carefully), Öko’s primary contribution to the world is their beautiful, Quebec-made textile products.

Making disposable products that the consumer needs to buy over and over again is much more profitable than making long-lasting products that get to be reused over and over. And perhaps at the expense of their bottom line, Öko is doggedly determined to keep single-use, plastic crap out of landfills by making things to wipe up crap and snot, to soak up menstrual blood or urine, to remove makeup and just generally absorb fluids … things that we can wash and use again and again.

Reusable menstrual pads, reusable makeup rounds, handkerchiefs, washable toilet paper, face and body cloths, and soon period panties … Öko has single-handedly reduced how much garbage I produce by literal pounds. (Yes, I once calculated it.)

I have not used a disposable pad or makeup round since 2013 when I started using Öko.

Öko is the real deal, truly. They’re the brand I’ve been working with the longest and that has taught me the most about what it means to be an ethical manufacturer and retailer in a world where profits are too often put above people and the environment.

5- An Ethical Canadian Brand that’s a family affair: Produits de MaYa

Produits de MaYa has been a part of my daily life for so long now I am not completely certain how it started. I do think that it may have been via the aforementioned ethical-brand-match-maker Öko Creations, but however it started, it’s been a match made in zero-waste heaven.

Produits de MaYa’s flagship product is called liniment, and if you don’t know what it is or what it can do, I have of course written about it. My brother has also written about it, and it is he who named it Magical Butt Oil. (Which sounds really dirty for a product whose primary purpose is cleaning …)

Liniment is a natural, oil-based creamy cleanser that I used to clean up my kids after every bum change for many years, and still use to clean up messy poops (and did so twice while editing this post … because my twins’ bowels are both synchornised and messy). It is refillable (and please, please get your local refillery to stock it!) and moisturizing; I found a huge reduction in skin irritation in the diaper area once I started using it.

Liniment is also my go-to makeup remover, I use it to cleanse my face, it is the key to painless bandage removal, an aftershave, a protective balm for the cheeks in cold weather, a soothing salve for sunburns and perfect to remove residue after waxing. What can’t it do? I mean, you could eat it if you wanted to … its ingredients are natural and harmless! (But don’t eat it!)

The family behind Produits de MaYa is so lovely and thoughtful, sending greetings to my brother and me on various occasions and checking in on us when they hear of bad weather out in Vancouver or Calgary. They also live in my old Montréal neighbourhood, so it’s disappointing we didn’t connect before I moved out west!

They take great care in reducing the impact of their products and while I do not earn commission from them, they’ve ensured my ongoing addiction to their liniment and moisturizer and compensate me well with annual shipments!

And thus concludes my list of brands that I feel so good about promoting: brands whose goals and ethics are aligned with my own and who are helping make the world a better place. Shop with them and feel GOOD about it!

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