Business profile: New Revelstoke company, Thuja, helps fight greenwashing

Thuja, an online platform where users can shop verified sustainable companies and save money, is coming to Revelstoke, simplifying sustainable shopping and lifestyle changes.

Thuja founders Jenise Lamoureux and Arnoul Mateo. Photo: Thuja

New Revelstoke company, Thuja, is an online platform where users can shop verified sustainable companies and save money. Thuja gives brands an overall sustainability score based on the company’s products, ecological and climate impact, social justice practices, and third-party verifications. The business founders want to make incorporating sustainability into everyday life easier.

Greenwashing is a marketing tactic brands use to deceive shoppers, making it seem like it uses environmentally friendly business practices.

Founders Jenise Lamoureux and Arnoul Mateo say their focus is vetting and verifying outdoor brands. Lamoureux describes Mateo as a born activist. His background is in ecology and conservation. He has a deep connection with nature preservation. Lamoureux describes herself as a model of the platform’s target audience. Her background is in business and accounting, but after travelling, returning to school, and focusing on a career, sustainable practices fell by the wayside. Something Lamoureux says is true for many people. 

 

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Thuja is a company that stands for change and collective action. 

Inspired by Revelstoke’s outdoor community, the pair want to educate about sustainability and harmful greenwashing practices used by clothing companies. Mateo says Revelstoke is the ideal place to start this discussion because the community utilizes nature for everything and comprises like-minded people who care about the environment. 

“Everyone wants to protect nature and do something for the planet,” he says. “But when it comes to your own actions, people are pretty confused.” He hopes Thuja will make a difference in how people consume by serving as a guide to sustainability and best practices. 

How it works

Lamoureux says the business idea came from conversations with Mateo about shared sustainability interests.

“It came from answering the question, ‘How do you change people’s habits for the better?’” she says. Lamoureux says the answer became apparent when they asked themselves what would incentivize their own habitual changes; “It was to create something that is incredibly easy [to use] with a little bit of financial incentive,” she says. 

So, how does Thuja make money? Thuja has plans to partner with companies that score well on their rating platform. They earn money through affiliate links, a specific URL that lets the brands know that a customer is accessing their site through Thuja. The click-through links will also include discount opportunities for shoppers using the platform. 

“Brands have to meet a certain threshold to work with us. They have no say in their end rating. And we don’t take paid advertising,” Lamoureux says. The Thuja staff say brand partnerships will be announced soon.

Its focus on outdoor wear and simplified shopping sets Thuja apart from other third-party vetting tools. Lamoureux says Thuja won’t waste time rating brands known to have poor sustainable practices. 

“What we want is a collective of companies really doing well that’s kind of like a one-stop shop,” Lamoureux says. “So if someone needs bedding, if someone needs clothing, if someone needs an outdoor jacket, they can come and see brands that have rated really well and have met that threshold.” She says other platforms similar to Thuja serve as research tools, presenting many options that don’t necessarily narrow down. Thuja is designed to make sustainable shopping easy.

Thuja Logo. Photo: Thuja

Mateo says businesses have responded positively to their initiative. Sustainable brands want recognition for their work. “The real thing is that brands are actually doing good,” he says. “It costs a lot of money to do all this research; evaluate your carbon footprint, change your whole supply chain from having 20 suppliers to five, so huge.” Thuja’s research-based rating process digs up all companies’ investments into sustainable practices and projects, simplifying customer information and validating brands’ sustainability efforts.

“We rate based on where we want to see the industry,” Lamoureux says. Mateo and Lamoureux agree that there is a climate crisis, and there’s no one way to solve that problem. “People hear about it, don’t understand it, but then it’s hard to put words into actions, and people don’t know where to start,” Mateo says. 

“We enjoy nature, but we don’t necessarily protect it,” Lamoureux says. Mateo describes it as a broken relationship with nature. They think with collective action in Revelstoke, people can make a difference.

Saturday, September 10, Thuja will be at the Revelstoke Local Food Initiative Market downtown to connect with the community. They will be hosting a launch party at 4 p.m. at a location to be determined. Follow their social media channels for updates, @wearethuja.
Nora Hughes is a recent graduate of the Thompson Rivers University Interdisciplinary Program, where she combined her passions for Adventure Tourism, Communications and Journalism. With a strong interest in community news, Nora is passionate about giving a voice and face to the people of Revelstoke through storytelling.