New meetup brings innovation on sustainability into the professional realm

New meetup brings innovation on sustainability into the professional realm

When Brett Eigner noticed Edmonton's tech founders and innovators held regular meetups but sustainability professionals didn't, he had an idea.

Eigner lives in Edmonton but works for British Columbia-based Debrand, which helps clothing brands recycle textiles. Eigner told Taproot the company's focus on sustainability made him wonder how he could connect with other people who work in the sustainability sector in Edmonton. He said there were many of these events in the city geared towards individuals, but he couldn't find any for professionals.

His fix was to start Sustain YEG, which he hopes creates an environment similar to what the tech industry has in the city. "I think we can create an interesting space in Edmonton that is both a hub for sustainability and for innovation," Eigner said.

Eco-minded readers may remember The Local Good's Green Drinks meetups. The Local Good, founded in 2007, held its last gathering for people in the environmental field in 2023.

Since Eigner started the meetups in January, he's welcomed sustainability analysts from corporate settings, founders of cleantech startups, and new graduates looking to start careers in sustainability. He also wants people whose job has nothing to do with sustainability to consider attending.

"This is, at the moment, a professional space wanting to promote all things sustainability, but it's also trying to create a space for the individuals who are trying to, for lack of a better word, 'greenify' their job," he said. "We're wanting to create a space where people can learn and go, 'Okay, well, I don't need to find a new job that has sustainability in the name.' We can help promote that you can do more at your job right now."

The meetups are held on the last Thursday of each month, with the next on June 27 at Edmonton Unlimited.

Eigner hopes he and others can evolve the meetups into a conference at the scale of Upper Bound, and maybe expand them across Alberta. He also wants to venture into the social and economic sides of sustainability, the concept of which he admits is cloudy.

"When you first hear (sustainability), most tend to associate it with the environment. Though this is accurate, it doesn't paint the full picture, as true sustainability is a balance between environmental, economic, and social prosperity," he said. "We hope to become a knowledge and connection hub for the community that promotes the importance and interconnectedness of all three pillars."

Photo: Sustainability innovators at Sustain YEG's March meetup. Brett Eigner is the person furthest to the right. (Sustain YEG)