Learn why this former eco-activist thinks entrepreneurship is the key to sustainability

Ian Jackson standing near a tree

Thanks to Environment and Resource Studies graduate Ian Jackson (’95), the next time our nation’s hockey Brahmins assemble to discuss all things puck-related on CBC’s Satellite Hotstove Lounge, they’ll be doing it in a more-sustainable environment.

As President of Nadurra Wood Corporation, Jackson supplies Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified hardwood and bamboo flooring/plywood, as well as reclaimed wood, for everything from private homes, corporate offices, retail store chains and of course television studios for hockey hotheads.

But Jackson is no cynical entrepreneur boasting environmentally-friendly practices as a marketing gimmick. He honestly feels that for every customer he wins, he not only makes his business stronger, he weakens his less-environmentally-conscious competition. It’s all in the name of encouraging green consumption, and offering consumers sustainable options and choices for basic products.

This commitment stems from formative experiences here at the University of Waterloo. Inspired by his environment courses, Jackson took two terms off to backpack through British Columbia’s old growth forests. Seeing these ancient and beautiful ecosystems in person, and realizing they were literally being turned into telephone books, crystallized his desire to protect them. He joined anti-logging blockades, wrote articles criticizing the forestry industry and eventually came back (with significantly longer hair) to UWaterloo with a strong desire to finish his degree and make an impact.

Eventually activism just wasn’t enough for Jackson – he wanted to get to the root of the problem. “I wanted to learn how to build sustainable houses,” he says on the phone from his Toronto office. “I ended up doing construction work on some green homes and eventually working as a green building consultant in the flooring industry with this company. I left in 2005 to start my own business because I didn’t think they were being sustainable enough.”

He started Nadurra (appropriately named after the Gaelic word for ‘nature’) and began sourcing wood and building materials on his own environmentally sustainable terms. As much as possible Nadurra tries to source FSC certified wood. Using techniques learned from his studies at UWaterloo, Jackson personally inspects and reviews forestry audits from every forest supplying his wood to ensure that they meet the exacting standards needed to be considered sustainable. In fact, he sold the first FSC flooring in Canada to the Toronto Mountain Equipment Coop store in 1997. “One of my goals is to show my suppliers upstream that there is a market for sustainable wood products, and moreover, to encourage the ones that didn’t make the grade to become more sustainable.”

His business grew fast. Before long, he had clients across Canada, and Nadurra was supplying flooring for Sony Canada, Roots, Aveda, MEXX and Boathouse clothing stores. However one recent project held a special place in the graduate’s heart. Nadurra supplied the eco-friendly bamboo flooring, bamboo plywood and cabinetry for the Faculty of Environment’s new targeted LEED certified Environment 3 building.

“It was like getting in touch with an old family member,” says Jackson, stressing that he didn’t get the contract because of nepotism but rather because his products earn LEED points for green construction and are cost-effective. 

Jackson hopes that his business story, and that of Nadurra Wood Corporation can serve as an inspiration for young Environment students looking to make an impact -- and a bit of money. “I think it is such a unique way for students to make change. Why be limited to being an employee when you can be a green game-changer by changing the way business is done while providing empowering employment to others.”