toronto reduced packaging waste free

Toronto businesses are reducing packaging to go waste free

Reduce, reuse, recycle: lately Toronto businesses are especially taking that first action to heart, some even attempting to do away with packaging altogether to get as close to zero waste as possible.

As the saying goes, it’s not easy being green, but not only are businesses finding a waste-free model is worth it...it’s actually what customers want. 

“We’ve even had two customers shed tears of joy,” says Dayna Stein of Bare Market. Still in the process of finding a physical space for the market, pop-up versions of the concept are selling shampoo, body butter, household cleansers and more in bulk. Customers fill their own containers, or borrow reusable ones for a deposit.

Stein says customers are “excited that they finally have the opportunity to purchase everything they need package-free in one place. We carry over 400 package-free products. Consumers are looking for ways to create tangible environmental and social impact in their lives in a way that doesn’t cost a fortune.”

toronto reduced packaging waste free

Refillable containers for sale at Token. Photo by Jesse Milns.

Nicole Babin of Token, a Riverside gift shop selling items with less packaging and in bulk, echoes this statement. “Customers have been pleasantly surprised by our refill station. I think most people want to do better to reduce their waste, and this provides an easy option for them to do so.”

“Going less-waste has made me work harder with buying,” says Babin. “I have to do more research, ask more questions. But it’s so much more rewarding when those products come in.”

Token and Bare Market have to do excessive research and work closely with suppliers to get their shipments without single-use packaging, but find the response from them to be similar to that of customers.

“Generally on the second delivery from suppliers we’ve spoken to, single-use packaging has been completely swapped for paper packaging or no packaging at all,” says Stein.

Packaging-free bulk grocery store Unboxed Market, poised to open on Dundas West, will be using the same strategies of working with trusted suppliers to reduce or eliminate single-use packaging and encouraging customers to bring their own containers and reusable shopping bags.

But does all this actually work to reduce waste? Apparently even before closing to renovate into a fully waste-free market, as a more traditional grocery store Unboxed was able to reduce their garbage tote count from 12 bags to three. 

“We’ve helped divert 3,197 containers from heading to landfill simply by offering refill at one of our 46 pop-up shops to date,” says Stein, and that’s not including the waste reduced by lending out refillable containers or selling reusable items that eliminate the need for disposable ones.

So ditch the plastic bags and stock up on mason jars, because it looks like these are only the first of many zero waste business to come in Toronto.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns at Token


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