Zero Waste Shopping Guide: Ontario

After the overwhelmingly positive response to the Zero Waste Toronto Guide, we’ve continued to scour the internet for businesses that can help you become a zero-waste savant, so here is The Eco Hub’s Zero Waste Shopping Guide: Ontario 

zero waste shopping Guide Ontario

Use the province-wide section of this guide to find locations near you that can help you to:

  • find zero waste items
  • use containers for bulk goods
  • dine at and support restaurants that are engaged in waste reduction
  • recycle items you can’t find a use for

We’ve also compiled select locally run and community-minded storefronts that can help with your zero waste goals! Check out businesses in Hamilton, Hunstville, Kitchener/Waterloo, Ottawa, Peterborough, Toronto, Whitby and Windsor.

PROVINCE WIDE

FOOD

Farmers Markets Ontario – Farmers Markets are a key resource for any aspiring Zero Waster since fruits and vegetables are typically sold without packaging.  This database has over 180 Farmers Markets province-wide, searchable by day of the week or location!

Harmony Organic – From whipping cream and eggnog to the classic chocolate milk or skim, Harmony Organic can provide you with returnable glass bottles in portions of 1 litre or 500 ml. Click here to find out where this product is sold.

Whole Foods – Gives you 10¢ off for every bag you reuse for each transaction, you can keep the discount or donate it back to charity. Click here for a list of locations.

Bulk Barn – As of February 2017, Bulk Barn allows customers to bring their own reusable containers rather than using the plastic bags provided in store. Click here for a list of locations.

The Beer Store – Accepts alcohol empties (including wine bags) as well as plastic 6 pack rings for recycling.  http://www.thebeerstore.ca/locations

CLOTHING

Plato’s Closet – International consignment store with clothing, accessories, footwear, outerwear, exercise wear and menswear. Locations listed here

Value Village – A popular second-hand retailer with locations in every province; they have pretty frequent sales throughout the year as well as a free “Super Savers Club” membership that entitles you to 20% off on your birthday. Click for stores.

BEAUTY/HEALTH

Diva Cup – A reusable menstrual cup that you can find at retailers all over the province. With headquarters located in Kitchener, Ontario, it’s worth a mention in this guide!  Store finder.

Lush – cult cosmetic company with locations all over Canada; their “5 Pot Program” allows you to return five of their post-consumer recycled plastic containers in store in exchange for a free face mask.

HOUSEHOLD GOODS

Recycle My Electronics – An online database where you can enter your postal code and see all the e-waste recycling options in your area.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore – Each ReStore is different, selling used and surplus furnishings and building materials. With some locations, you can even donate your kitchen prior to renovations: a crew will come and salvage the pre-renovation space! There are 65 locations across Ontario.

 

Staples – Office supplies store with drop bins to recycle old markers, pens, mechanical pencils, batteries, cell phones, printer ink and toner cartridges. 

Mountain Equipment Co-op – Not only does MEC publish an annual report on their carbon emissions, they also do a twice-annual waste audit of their store dumpsters to find ways to lessen their environmental impact. On top of it, their selection of reusable and eco-friendly gear knows no bounds! 

 

HAMILTON

FOOD

The Mustard Seed Co-Op a grocery store focussed on locally produced food that encourages customers to bring their own containers and bags (25 cent discount for each container), composts as much as possible and reuses its’ paper recyclables.

The Nook Café – Has a goal of being 100% waste free- and is dangerously close! Decorated with second-hand items, furnished with recyclables, and ensures that all cups, napkins, lids and drink sleeves are compostable or recyclable. 25 cents off if customers bring their own coffee mug.

6-2 Bold Street, Hamilton Ontario

HOUSEHOLD GOODS

The Pale Blue Dot – specializes in ethically sourced and earth-friendly reusable products, quickly becoming a community hub for sustainable living in Hamilton.

 

HUNSTVILLE

Sustain Eco Store – A family run store focussed on green lifestyles, carrying a wide variety of household, kitchen and health and wellness items, including non-toxic home improvement products. A comprehensive selection of zero waste products and articles with tips for a zero-waste lifestyle.

 

KITCHENER/WATERLOO 

FOOD

The Sustainable Market  – Prevents food waste and provides quality, clean food! Farmers harvest food based on the orders received through the online market, and it is at the pickup location within 24 hours. Serves Waterloo and Guelph only. Locations

CLOTHING

Talize Thrift Store – Known locally as having some of the best finds in the city: high quality and low prices. When you donate, receive a $5 off coupon for your next purchase, and get 30% off rewards at certain times of the year.

1144 Courtland Ave E, Kitchener, ON N2C 2H5

Luster and Oak – Consignment store run by students, for students. Also runs a blog exploring fast fashion and local thrifting expertise.

BEAUTY/HEALTH 

Truth Beauty Company – All your green beauty needs in one place. They focusing on lots of great Canadian brands.

 

HOUSEHOLD GOODS

Worth a Second Look – A low cost, community driven furniture, and housewares store, making use of second-hand goods including repair if necessary in their “Fix-It Facility”. 

97 Victoria St N, Kitchener, ON N2H 5C1

Computer Recycling – Just as it sounds: volunteers refurbish computers that have been donated, and if they are unusable, the computer is stripped down and properly recycled.

66 Queen Street South (entrance on Charles Street)

Zero Waste Bulk – COMING SOON!   Will carry a wide variety of reusable household and personal items, and bulk items that can be purchased with containers brought from home. 

THE KW STRAW PROJECT: Zero Waste Bulk wants to donate reusable stainless steel straws to local cafes and restaurants in KW to reduce the number of single use plastic straws served with drinks. More details to come in future posts. But for now… Tag a local business you want to see using reusable straws! ? — Yesterday, an idea popped into my head regarding the usage of throwaway plastic straws in Kitchener-Waterloo. We want to start a sort of community project to reduce the use of plastic straws in local cafes and restaurants. While it may be a bit hasty to announce the project mere hours from having the idea, I'm confident this will be something we will want to follow through on. Also, metal straws are awesome for stabbing holes into softened coconut eyes, and the coconut water tasted extra refreshing! ? #theKWstrawproject #supportlocal #stopsucking

A post shared by Zero Waste Bulk (@zerowastebulk) on

OTTAWA

FOOD

Nu Grocery Ottawa – A zero waste grocery store carrying over 500 products that prioritize local, organic, and all-natural options! If you forget your container, they will lend a jar and/or offer a compostable bag. The range of items are not only food but also beauty/health, and household goods. Store finder. 

 

Herb and Spice Food – Carries bulk dry goods as well as bulk refrigerated goods (i.e. tofu). Bring your own container or egg carton, to be tared at the cash register. Also carries products from other local businesses in Ottawa.  

Herb and Spice Wellness – Bring your container for bulk medicinal herbs and supplements!

Rainbow Foods – Bring your container in and take it yourself before purchasing. Carries some zero waste items as well.

The Piggy Market – Artisan Delicatessen and Craft Butcher: locally sourced meats, cheese, baked goods and prepared items. Enhancing the food culture in Ottawa with regular tastings and courses. They are more than happy to skip the packaging using one of your containers from home!

The Green Door – A vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free restaurant that has no set menu: what’s made is based on what is in season with local farmers (who also take the food scraps back for composting). Customers are encouraged to bring takeout containers, and pay for their meal by weight!

CLOTHING

Rikochet Resale – One of Ottawa’s most popular consignment stores: Not only do they help you along your way with re-using clothing, they also donate items to local non-profits like Dress for Success. 

Fairy Godmother Ottawa – Donate your dress directly to this organization that collects formalwear for prom. A great way to make use of nostalgic items that are not making it back into your regular rotation. Donations are accepted at Brown’s cleaners. Locations.  

BEAUTY AND HEALTH

Planet Botanix – Specializes in ingredients for soap and DIY body care items. Also sells ready-made, natural body care products with minimal packaging. 

Mother Earth Natural Health – Bring a container to purchase bulk products- over 300 bulk herbs and spices! You can mix your own loose teas (leaf, bark, root or resin). Flower remedies, essential oils, the diva cup and natural body care products are also available. 

HOUSEHOLD GOODS

Terra 20 – A wide selection of “Litterless Lunch” items, in addition to an eco-bar where you can purchase refillable household cleaners. Receive 75 cents off your refill purchase. 

 

Highjinx Ottawa – A social enterprise vintage and antique shop that doubles as a community safe house. Donations are sold and used to fund the Safe House; large furniture items are stored in the Furniture Shelter for when community members are in need.

 

PETERBOROUGH 

FOOD

The Food Forest Café – With a focus on Human Health, Animal Welfare, Environmental Mindfulness and Community, this café composts its food with local farmers and gardeners, producing one garbage bag or less per week. 

HOUSEHOLD GOODS

GreenUP – An environmental education centre, Green up coordinates events, workshops and has a storefront that carries a wide selection of reusable home, kitchen and personal care products ranging from recycled razors to stainless steel beverage/storage containers. Locations.

 

TORONTO 

FOOD:

The Big Carrot Community Market – A worker-owned market carrying lots of local produce; they will take 25¢ off your bill if you bring your own re-usable container when purchasing bulk items 

 348 Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON M4K 1N8

 

Karma Co-Op – A co-operative food store that diverts some of their organic waste to local farmers to use as animal feed and tries to limit their use of packaging

739 Palmerston Ave., Toronto, ON M6G 2R3

Coffeecology – Coffee delivered by bike in re-usable glass jars directly to your door; when you are finished with the jar you can leave it outside your home and a delivery person will come pick it up

Kupfert & Kim – A trendy restaurant with several downtown locations; all their takeout packaging is compostable but they also offer 35¢ off your bill if you bring your own food container to use instead

 140 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5V 2L4

100 King St. W., Toronto, ON M5X 1A9

181 Bay St., Toronto, ON M5J 2V1

20 Bay St., Toronto, ON M6J 2N8

200 Wellington St. W., Toronto, ON M5V 3C7

150 King St. W., Toronto, ON M5H 3T9

 Maizal – Mexican restaurant located in Liberty Village; Ivan Wadgymar, one of the co-owners, makes a weekly trip to the Calveiro farm in Schoberg where food waste from the restaurant is either composted or used as animal feed. 

133 Jefferson Ave., Toronto, ON M6K 3E4

Essence Of Life Natural Food Market –  providing accessibility and affordability of organic food to members of the community.

50 Kensington Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 2G1

Organic Garage – A Canadian Organic and All Natural grocery store with the best quality products at Everyday Affordable Prices. Produce, Grocery, Meat, Bulk, Vitamins.

Click here for a list of locations! 

Tiffinday – Waste-free lunch delivery service specializing in South Asian Cuisine. 

CLOTHING

Black Market Clothing – Trendy thrift store with a barbershop in the back

256 Queen St. W., Toronto, ON M5V 1Z8

Kensington Market – Filled with incredible secondhand clothing stores as well as hip cafés and restaurants; it’s possible to spend an entire day walking around the market and still discover new things the next time you visit.

 

L’Elegante Boutique – The secondhand designer finds you’ll find in this Yorkville store are not cheap but they are fabulous

132 Cumberland St., Toronto, ON M5R 1A6

BEAUTY/HEALTH

Saponetti – Customers can choose to either pick up a refill of their favourite liquid soaps, shower gels, hair products, etc. in person at their depot on Brock Ave. or to have a glass bottle delivered directly to them that Saponetti will later collect and re-use

615c Brock Ave., Toronto, ON M6H 3P1

Green and Frugal –  Fill up on DIY body care ingredients, essential oils and their own naturally made body and skin care items and they also sell zero packing shampoo bars.

2432 Kingston Rd, Toronto, Ontario M1N 1V3

BareMarket – A pop-up zero waste market; (check their website or follow them on Instagram and Facebook for locations)

Alima Pure – Minimal packaging, refillable compacts with magnetic pans, which can be swapped for a new pan when one is used up.

HOUSEHOLD GOODS

Logan and Finely A general store in the west end of Toronto that carries a wide variety of home goods, clothing and zero waste supplies.

670 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1E5

Ava’s Appletree – Home goods store with a nice selection of re-usable cloth diapers, napkins and “UnPaper” towels as well as stainless steel lunch boxes and re-usable metal straws

870 Kingston Rd., Toronto, ON M4E1S3

Comfy Cotton – Cloth diaper delivery service; your soiled diapers are picked up by a Comfy Cotton delivery person and replaced with freshly-cleaned diapers 

The Sharing Depot – A $50/year membership allows you to borrow from their collection of party supplies, board games, toys as well as camping and sports equipment 

1803 Danforth Ave., Toronto, ON M4C 1J2

830 St. Clair W., Toronto, ON M6C 1C1

 

WHITBY

FOOD

Bistro 67 Centred around teaching and learning, all kitchen waste is either recycled or composted. The restaurants’ produce is grown on campus by the same students that are preparing your meal.

 

WINDSOR

FOOD

Greener Bins Compost –They bring you a bucket, you fill it with scraps, they will pick it up and replace your bucket with a clean one. The best part? You can have the composted soil back or choose to donate it to a community garden!

 

Editor’s Note: Have we left anything out of our Zero Waste Shopping Guide: Ontario? Please let us know, share in the comments and let’s build this list together!

Also, more provinces coming soon!

 

zero waste shopping Guide Ontario

 

 

Libby Jeffrey

Libby Jeffrey is a culture junkie from Winnipeg, Manitoba. With a background in International Development, Libby is particularly interested in sustainable travel and how the North American lifestyle impacts the rest of the world. Exploring Canada whenever she can, one of Libby's favourite adventures was a 4-month long road trip spanning British Columbia, the Yukon, Quebec, and everything in-between.

2 Comments
  1. I would love it if you could add Urban Harvest to your list. The reason why is because this year (at their pop up store) I asked them if they would take back their plastic pots that comes with their plants and they said they definitely would (as long as you rinse them) and they would reuse them again to grow more plants. Plastic pots in the gardening industry is a big problem (they’re not recyclable) and the fact that Urban Harvest would take them back and reuse them made me a big fan and a very loyal customer.

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