sustainable toronto

10 food businesses in Toronto that make it easier to practice sustainability

As we grow more conscious of the environment, many of us have either converted to or are trying to incorporate more ways to be environmentally friendly and make responsible decisions while practicing sustainability. 

Earth Day 2023 is around the corner on April 22, but Mother Nature certainly requires our care and attention for more than just 24 hours. 

Here are some Toronto food and beverage businesses that make it easier to stay committed to sustainable practices all year round.

1 Kitchen Toronto

Located inside 1 Hotel Toronto, this is the sustainably-minded global hospitality chain's all-day restaurant. The bright plant-filled dining room offers farm-to-table cuisine by sourcing fresh local ingredients, as well as zero-waste practices such as composting for their 100 per cent organic on-site garden.

For Earth Month, the restaurant will also be serving a gorgeous Sapphire Tides cocktail that is raising donations for the Natural Resources Defense Council throughout April.

Ration Beverley

Ration Beverley on Queen West is another renowned hotel-based restaurant that honours zero-waste philosophies. They have two gardens - one in the basement and one on the rooftop - to harvest from and waters both with leftover ice from the bar to not waste water.

Here, diners can find a changing tasting menu that incorporates seasonal, local ingredients and foraged finds, in addition to an in-house aged meat program.  

The Goods

Serving Toronto since 2012, this casual food operation launched from a kitchen with no seatings into a sunny, airy spot on Roncesvalles today.

The vegan business uses locally sourced organic green ingredients, and also significantly reduces packaging waste by encouraging customers to bring their own takeout containers.

They also cook community meals in Toronto that are supported through ongoing fundraising efforts. 

Birds and Beans

This Ontario roastery doubles as a small cafe in Etobicoke serving organic coffee, tea and smoothies. 

Their Arabica beans are organic and certified bird-friendly, which means they're grown and harvested under a canopy of mature trees, a condition that preserves the natural ecosystem to benefit birds and their habitats. 

The product doesn't only support bird conservation but also maintains the local biodiversity and livelihood of small-scale farmers.


With a focus on foraging and gathering, the food and drinks served from this Dundas West dining room will take you on a culinary escape from the city.

Known for preparing game meat such as bison and deer - on occasions on a rustic open fire - the restaurant's use of seasonal, regional, and sustainable ingredients is chef Michael Hunter's reflection of the Canadian terroir. 

Unboxed Market

Everybody brings their own tubs, jars and bags to stock up on packaging-free essentials at this Dundas West market. Here, eggs don't come in containers, and milk is dispensed out of a fridge where you can the exact amount you need.

For freshly prepared ready-to-consume goods, the front cafe offers a small discount for anyone bringing their own mug. The antipasto bar and hot table are also popular with patrons hungry for some nutritious whole foods.

Big Carrot

Serving the Danforth with ethical eats since the '80s, this worker-owned store (that also has a location in the Upper Beaches) prioritizes Organic and Non-GMO Project verified products.

This multi-faceted space features various functions from a juice bar to a bulk department. Most notably, their "dispensary" specializes in holistic treatments like traditional Chinese medicine, bee products, flower remedies and superfoods.

Karma Co-Op

This long-standing democratically run grocer in the Annex is owned by its 500+ members. The non-profit specializes in local and fair trade products.

You can easily find fresh produce from Ontario farms, as well as a lot of zero-waste bulk items. Membership costs $50 a year, but students get over 50 per cent off — and anyone is welcome to start with a month's trial before committing. 

Alternative Grounds

Opened in 1995 when there was no fair trade coffee being roasted in the city, this coffee roaster continues its mission in its new Junction home. 

With equal parts passion for a great cup of coffee and the importance of its origins, they carry six signature blends as well as seasonal features. The products are also available through online orders and can be delivered across Canada. 

Pluck Teas

As the first tea brand to receive a global certification in food upcycling for five of its premium teas, this company is known to upcycle ingredients such as grape skins, orange peel and cacao shells from partner businesses to make its delicious, healthy loose-leaf teas.

Besides reducing food waste, having a close working relationship with local suppliers helps eliminate additional shipment needs and reduces the carbon footprint for a net positive impact on the environment.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim at 1 Kitchen

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10 food businesses in Toronto that make it easier to practice sustainability

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