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how to go low waste in the city

Photo by Boxed Water

Author: Ira Hernandez 

Interested in adopting more sustainable habits, but feeling overwhelmed? Where do you even go to find the things you need? Don’t stress! bare market blogger Ira has some tips for how you can adopt a sustainable lifestyle in the city.


Have you ever thought to yourself, “going low waste is too hard”? Or “where do I even begin?!” Making the transition to going low waste or package-free can seem really daunting. When you look around at your life and realize almost everything has packaging (or plastic) it can be overwhelming. Luckily, I have compiled a list to help you navigate your low waste options and make the process more streamlined.

Getting started with moving away from convenient single use plastics is hard, really hard. Even for someone like me, who lives in the city with access to bulk stores and low waste options, ‘zero waste’ seems like an uphill battle. Where do I go? What do I do? Do I throw out everything and start over? Spoiler alert: no.

The idea of consuming less means fulfilling a product’s complete life cycle. For instance, that old plastic toilet bowl scrubber can be used until it’s had enough. THEN you can switch to a more sustainable option. Don’t just go on a Marie Kondo rampage to remove all the non-joy-giving plastic from your life. Because where is all that plastic likely to end up? Yep, in landfill.



Pop-up shop & bricks and mortar location coming soon! 

I mean, are you even surprised to see this as the first shop on the list? bare market is chock full of goodies, from DIY skin care ingredients to bulk laundry detergent and then some. When Dayna Stein sought to be Toronto’s first one-stop shop for package-free goods, she meant it. Find the complete product list here. This one-stop shop is a great starting point for beginning your new lifestyle.



2432 Kingston Rd, Toronto, ON M1N 1V3
Kingston Rd & Midland Ave

In this shop, owner Tara Holguin, creates her own products with meticulously sourced and high quality ingredients. Green & Frugal’s offers skin + hair care, aromatherapy blends and personal care products - all of which are made in small batches without harmful preservatives or cheap fillers. At the shop, you can even grab a healthy snack and a kombucha! Green & Frugal is a great introduction to sustainable and natural self care products.


Photo by Jason Briscoe  


615c Brock Ave, Toronto, ON M6H 3P1
Between Dufferin and Landsdowne Subway station

You can online shop and pop into their refillery depot! Saponetti has products for home cleaning, bathroom essentials, and pet care. While you can purchase products in their original plastic packages, they encourage you to refill - a great way to combine convenience and more sustainable shopping habits.


various locations

Thrift shopping is an amazing option for your fashion finds. If you have never thrifted before, you are in for a treat. While the idea of buying used may feel strange at first, it’s really not! Thrift shopping/buying used is a great alternative to fast fashion as well as a way to promote a more circular economy. Just have fun with it!

Photo by Christelle Bourgeo


Toronto based trading app BUNZ is a game changer. You can liken it to online shopping but instead of a store, you’re looking into your community’s second-hand goodies! Are you looking for plants? Levi’s jeans? Ceramic bowls? Candles? You name it, BUNZ will most likely have it. Best part, it encourages you to trade what you have or even use their own cryptocurrency BTZ to get that item you’ve been eyeing.


now it's your turn.

Figuring out how to adopt a low-waste and sustainable lifestyle doesn’t need to be an exhausting experience. Your best bet is to start slow, and make one change at a time. Remember to bring a reusable grocery bag the next time you go shopping, say no to a plastic straw in your drink or sign-up to volunteer with a lake clean up. And most importantly, use what you have before buying anything new. Being a conscious consumer and making small steps in the right direction will bring huge rewards!

Moving away from single use plastics is a matter of making conscious decisions about what you are buying. You do not have to be ‘perfect’ - changing up something as simple as your plastic toothbrush to a compostable bamboo toothbrush (bare market stocks these!) is a great way to contribute less waste. Allow yourself to do what you can, don’t feel pressured by someone’s mason jar holding their last four years worth of trash. It’s sets an unachieveable standard for most people and can instead deter you from making the change at all.

And what if you need more information? What if you have a bunch of questions about a low waste lifestyle?  The Zero Waste Toronto FB group, as well as the subreddit group Zero Waste, are great sources for all things low waste in the city. Volunteering is another way to get involved. Organizations like A Greener Future, Seafish Tales and bare market are all great options for getting involved in the local  low waste community to learn more about sustainability. Volunteering can help you make valuable connections with like-minded people.

Now, let’s dive right in. Where do YOU go to find everything you’ll need for a more sustainable lifestyle! Share in the comments below!


1 comment

  • Grocery shopping can produce a huge amount of waste so we shop at Karma Coop which had 100s of bulk products, even hard to find ones like organic frozen berries!

    Rachael Lefebvre

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