Even as someone who proudly owns (and carries) reusable tote bags, travel mugs, water bottles and even enjoys using a glass straw at home, I’m not immune to finding myself in the occasional situation when I’ve forgotten to bring my own bag (or didn’t bring enough); didn’t have a reusable cup on hand when I decided I wanted a mid afternoon coffee; or just really wanted to use a freaking straw even with the guilt of knowing that it’s a one-time use plastic item. Thankfully, more and more businesses are making the move to reduce single use plastics with help from items like compostable takeout containers and paper straws, in fact, even fast food chains like Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s and New York Fries (to name just a few) have committed to going plastic straw free.
While this commitment from major food chains brings me MUCH joy, I wanted to take a moment to shed light one some of the incredible local businesses in Toronto that are making big changes to the way we shop, and how we can shop more sustainably with their help. If you’re looking to make sustainable changes to your shopping habits that go beyond just straws and tote bags, keep reading:
7 Local Businesses in Toronto Making It Easier To Shop Sustainably:
This year, the city of Toronto welcomed it’s first Zero Waste Grocery Store thanks to the opening of the Unboxed Market on Dundas West. If you, like me, get stressed by the amount of single-use packaging that can quickly and easily fill up your shopping cart or basket at your nearest grocery store, then the trek to Unboxed Market will be worth it to you. Designed to be your “one-stop shop” for everything from dry and fresh goods to cleaning products, single use packaging is a thing of the past at Unboxed Market. So, just be sure to arrive prepared with your own reusable containers, jars and bags.
West Side Beef
Recently launched by the team behind Richmond Station (one of my favourite restaurants in the city), West Side Beef has embraced the philosophy of nose-to-tail cooking and is making it easier for residents of Toronto and the GTA to do the same at home. The meal-share company buys stock from farmers, divides each share into 15 portions, and finds 15 hungry customers to provide them to by delivery to their door. Although they started out with their namesake beef, they’ve quickly expanded to also offer local chicken, turkey and pork as well.
Refill Station at Token
If you’re a resident of the East Side of Toronto like I am, heading all the way over the Dundas West to shop at Unboxed Market may seem like a bit of a stretch for you and your busy schedule. Trust me, I get it. Thankfully, when it comes to stocking up on high-quality organic beauty and household cleaning products, there’s an east side option for all of us. Located in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood, Token‘s Refill Station welcomes you to bring a clean reusable bottle or mason jar to fill up on products like shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer from Vancouver-brand Carina Organics, as well as dish soap, hand soap, and all-purpose cleaner from Montreal’s The Unscented Company.
If you happen to follow me on Instagram, there’s a good chance you’ve seen me share about my love for BUNZ more than a few times because I freaking LOVE the Bunz App. What initially started out as a simple trading group on Facebook has quickly evolved into a booming app, complete with it’s very own BUNZ currency that can be used to trade for goods or used to shop at some great local businesses. I use Bunz equally as often to clear unwanted items out of my house as I do to source good condition items I need. Not only is it a great way to save money, but it’s a fantastic way to reduce waste, keep items out of landfills and, of course, recycle!
Another local business I have relied on for years to help clear my closet of unwanted pieces while still getting to update it with “new” items (or even just get a bit of extra pocket money) is Common Sort. This multi-location consignment store (they can be found in Parkdale, Riverside and The Annex) invites you to bring in your new, lightly worn or vintage items for their team to look through and “purchase” from you on the spot. Any chosen items are shown to you with the price they plan to sell it for, then offering you the choice of 50% of the total amount in credit, or 25% in cash. All locations can get quite busy, especially on weekends, so plan to drop off your bag of items and potentially have to come back in a few hours to see what they’re willing to take.
Love scoring a deal, giving back and reducing waste? Yeah, me too. This is exactly why I love using the Feedback App so much. We wrote about the founders of this Toronto-based app last fall, and I’ve been obsessed with using the app ever since. It’s similar to Ritual in that you can purchase your order in advance of picking it up, the major difference is that you score a deal for purchasing a meal during a business’ “off hours” (think mid-afternoon or late night) when sales are slower and they may have food they’re trying to sell before having to throw it out at the end of the day. Each purchase of a meal through Feedback also helps provide a meal to someone in need.
Mama Earth Organics
One of the leaders in Toronto’s local food movement, I’ve been a big fan of using the Mama Earth Organics food delivery service for years now. Over the past 10 years, Mama Earth has developed close relationships with over 50 local farmers and artisans to not only help provide Toronto residents with great nutritious food, but also help preserve farm land and biodiversity around Toronto. Through Mama Earth, you can select organic fruit and veggie baskets (at a size that works for you) for weekly or bi-weekly delivery that shows up at your door in a reusable delivery container with little to zero packaging included within.
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)