Coquitlam optical boutique brings environmental and social issues into focus

When XO OPTIX Vision Care, a local family-run business, envisioned what an ideal small business should entail, it included much more than just providing an efficient, professional and customer-friendly environment.

It had to have a social conscience, as well.

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That’s why XO OPTIX in Coquitlam goes much further than a regular eyewear shop by focusing on reducing harm to the environment and providing assistance to those in need in the community.

“As a small business, we feel like there’s always something more we can do,” says Cindy Tsai, director of sales and operations at XO OPTIX. “It’s also a way to remain in touch with the community and be part of something that means more.”

XO OPTIX has achieved that, with the help of its customers, through a number of initiatives that this winter included gathering used clothing (warm jackets), blankets and food to help the local homeless population.

“We emailed our customers to ask if they could donate, and the response was amazing,” Tsai says, adding raising awareness to the harsh reality many homeless people face, especially during the cold months, is as important as the items donated.

The business also helped initiate a contact lens recycling program.

“We worked with Bausch +Lombon this because we sell their contacts, but don’t want to create a lot of garbage,” Tsai says, explaining the lenses are made from a specific type of plastic not accepted by most curb-side recycling programs in the Lower Mainland, making dropping off expired lenses at XO OPTIX good for the environment.

For daily contact wearers, recycling the materials they use is even more crucial.

“Think of it, daily contact wearers go through two blister packs containing their lenses each day,” Tsai says. “That’s 730 of them a year that would normally get thrown out.

“We wanted to offer an alternative to simply adding that to a landfill.”

The recycling program took about a year to set up, but now it is offered across the country.

“Running a business is about taking care of our customers, our employees and beyond that,” Tsai says. “The hope is others - individuals and business owners - will follow suit. While we can’t ask that of everyone, if more are able to contribute, we can make a big difference.”

For more about XO OPTIX various community and environmental projects, and optician’s eyewear services, visit xooptix.ca, call 604-941-5686, or check out their Facebook page.

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