Shopper’s Guide: Here’s A List of Zero Waste Stores if You’re in Canada

COVID-19 Update: Regardless of what the lists below for each location might say, many if not most stores offering bulk foods have set rules about sanitizing, mask-wearing, and distancing. There may also be changes in the Bring Your Own Containers (BYOC) policy. All of these are to minimize potential contact and transmission of the virus. Please reach out to the store/s of your choice to check their policy firsthand.

We’re hoping things will be much safer in the near future, but in the meantime, please use this guide as a reference of what zero waste stores you could further contact for the most up-to-date information.

Photo by Sarah Chai from Pexels

If you’ve been researching about zero waste, you know that making changes in how you shop is one key step in turning a new (greener) leaf.

You’re trying to be more mindful about your carbon footprint, and the waste you accumulate.

Aside from reducing your consumption, transitioning to zero waste entails shopping in stores where food and other household staples cover the tenets of zero waste, i.e. products are offered in bulk, organic, ethically produced, and packaging-free.

Of course, these stores are not yet as ubiquitous as the supermarket chains we’re familiar with. It’s marketing 101 to create an attractive, informative identity through packaging. And a lot of consumers are still on the fence about how costly buying bulk and eco-friendly products would be.

So while our community is growing, it can still be a challenge finding a store that has zero waste options. But we’re here to share what we’ve come up so far.

Zero Waste Stores in Canada

If you’re in Canada and you’re set on making the switch to a more sustainable lifestyle, we’ve compiled a list of zero waste stores across the country.

You’ll know where to go (but don’t go too far, okay? We’re also being mindful of our car use) and you’ll know what to expect from each store:

BRITISH COLUMBIA

West Coast Refill (Victoria, BC)

West Coast Refill is an island store with an array of refillable home and body care products. From all-purpose cleaners, laundry products, to lotions, toothpaste and shampoos, they offer bulk and package-free purchase. The store also carries raw ingredients like clay, aloe vera, witch hazel, and beeswax, etc. for your DIY needs.

What’s great is that they actively support local British Columbian and Canadian manufacturers. So aside from making zero waste shopping accessible, they’re promoting the local economy as well.

They have an online shop in case you’re interested.

NADA (Vancouver, BC)

From their website: At NADA, We’re Just Food. No Packaging. And No Funny Ingredients You Can’t Pronounce.

It’s a simple concept, but it works! NADA offers a variety of grocery items, from fresh items like bread, eggs, dairy, and produce, to things you can stock up on like coffee, condiments and sauces, dried fruits, and more.

Aside from food, the store also has personal care products, reusable containers and bags, and cleaning supplies.

Browse their store here.

Soap Dispensary (Vancouver, BC)

Soap Dispensary is another zero waste store located in Vancouver. And talk about a wide range of products: they have over 800 refillable products you can choose from (don’t overbuy though!)

Shampoos, body care products, household cleaning supplies, and even international food like kimchi – they have it on bulk. They allow pre-orders for in-store and curbside pick-ups.

Their website is currently being revamped, but you can peruse the goods and fill out the order form here.

The Refill Stop (New Westminster, BC)

This woman-owned store aims to eliminate single-use plastic by providing refillable, eco-friendly household, body care, and DIY raw ingredient products.

Of these sustainable everyday items, around 50% are locally made, 20% are sourced in and around Canada, and the rest are imported from other areas.

They also make zero waste lifestyle pretty convenient by allowing delivery of goods straight to your home or your business.

Check out the store here.

Footprints (Kelowna, BC)

The first refillery in Kelowna, Footprints (formerly named Farmbound) specializes in eco-friendly local and organic produce, dairy, and such that can be purchased in bulk. According to them, every refill saves you at least two single-use containers that will otherwise end up in the landfill!

Aside from bulk goods, they also carry different brands of personal care products, essential oils, reusable containers, and more. Check out their shop here.

ALBERTA

Canary (Calgary, AB)

Canary is a refillery store located in Calgary that sells products ranging from shampoo, soap, bath salts, to home cleaning supplies. They also have utility items (e.g. brooms, towels, brush) that are made of biodegradable and/or sustainable materials like bamboo, straw, or horsehair.

If you forget to BYOC (why, though?) rest easy because you can purchase reusable containers and bags from them. And if you prefer products to be shipped, the store will use upcycled packaging materials.

You can learn more about Canary here.

Nude Market (Edmonton, AB)

If you’ve been looking for delicious nut butters, look no further than Nude Market. A plastic-free store that specializes in natural peanut butters, their all-natural selection uses Premium American, dry roasted peanuts (the most sustainable nut out there), sans any added sugars and oil.

Aside from their peanut butter selection, they also have the NudeRefillery, their in-store hub for continuing a zero waste lifestyle. Browse their store here.

SASKATCHEWAN

Bulk Basket (Saskatoon, SK)

Bulk Basket is basically a bulk shopper’s dream!

It’s a one-stop shop for food and home goods. From pantry essentials such as coffee and tea, chocolate, herbs and spices, organic snacks, to home cleaning supplies and body care products - they have it all.

If you’re in the Saskatoon area, check out their products herebefore visiting in-store.

MANITOBA

Organic Planet (Winnipeg, MB)

Organic Planet Deli and Grocery has been in business for over 30 years! And they’re still the go-to for those looking for whole, organic, fair trade foods.

Promoting less emission and a more circular economy, the store carries produce mostly from local farms. Aside from seasonal produce, they offer a selection of bulk items, including gluten-free pastas and flours, beans, rice, grains, and refillable lifestyle products.

Peruse their selections here.

ONTARIO

Nu Grocery (Ottawa, ON)

Nu Grocery currently has two locations in Ottawa. As the first zero waste store in the area, they are known for offering a wide array of grocery and home products.

From dry goods, dairy, eggs, baked treats, to cleaning and hygiene supplies, you can shop both in-store and online.

Their website features not only their various goods, but they also highlight Ottawa-sourced products. You could also get tips from nutritionist and plant-based chef Amy Longard as to which superfoods to include in your diet.

Zero Waste Bulk (Waterloo, ON)

Zero Waste Bulk was opened in 2018. It’s the first zero waste store in Waterloo, and the second in Ontario. The goal is to have a one-stop shop of bulk goods and sustainable local products without having to go from place to place trying to buy local.

They have a whole list of products, from bulk preserved foods like kimchi and pickles, to fresh bread, ice cream, nut milks, even gluten-free vegan donuts. Aside from food, they also carry hygiene products, cosmetics, and household products.

Check out their bulk offerings here.

Unboxed Market (Toronto, ON)

Opened in 2019, Unboxed is Toronto’s first zero waste store.

The owners, having worked in the hospitality industry, were inspired to help minimize waste related to the food industry – actual food waste and the single-use packaging used in grocery items.

Aside from being a bulk refillery of grocery items and zero waste necessities, Unboxed also has a café (where you bring your own mug/carafe), a butcher counter and smoke house (that has locally sourced meat and deli), and a takeout counter that sells in-house cooked lunch and dinner options.

Take a look at their store here.

QUEBEC

Méga Vrac (Montreal, QC)

Talk about a hub! Méga Vrac stocks over 1,000 products, including fresh products like dairy, spreads, eggs, and hummus, to dry goods like grains and cereals, nuts, legumes, rice and pasta, to name a few. There are also an array of spices, herbal teas, and butters to choose from.

And don’t worry if you have a bit of a hunger pang when you shop here. They have ready-to-eat snacks you can nosh on such as biscuits, vegan bagels, and falafels.

Méga Vrac has three locations in Montreal. Check them out here.

LOCO (Montreal, Verdun, and Brossard, QC)

With three locations in Quebec, LOCO is a trusted ecological store that provides a range of grocery items as well as health products. They focus on bulk selling package-free, ethically sourced products that keep the local economy strong.

LOCO offers fresh produce, meat substitutes, eggs, dry goods like grains, flours, and snacks, and even pet food. Common household items such as detergents and cleaners are also sold here. And they have a bakery and ready-to-eat counter.

See their products here.

Vrac & Bocaux (Montreal, QC)

Vrac & Bocaux’s motto: “The best waste is no waste” is demonstrated in their package-free bulk grocery offerings.

Vrac & Bocaux has all that you’ll need (and want) for your zero waste kitchen. With over 750 products, you can buy everything from produce, spices, flours and grains, to dairy products.

They provide local, organic, and eco-friendly products to Montrealers at decent prices. Check out their store here.

NOVA SCOTIA

The Tare Shop (Halifax and Dartmouth, NS)

With two locations in Nova Scotia, The Tare Shop has filled the need for a package-free, zero waste lifestyle in the area.

They have a well-stocked refillery store that has dry goods, fresh produce, as well as home necessities like toilet paper, soaps and hygiene products. They also carry miscellaneous items like grease pencils, reusable face masks, and cloth bags.

Aside from their goods, The Tare Shop also hosts events that educate people about the zero waste lifestyle.

Take a look at their stores here.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Unpacked (Charlottetown, PEI)

Having just opened January 2020, Unpacked is Eastern Canada’s first ever package-free shop and online zero waste hub.

They offer a variety of goods for different needs, including products for kitchen, cleaning, body care, and even travel kits.

YUKON TERRITORY

Riverside Grocery (Whitehorse, YUKON)

Located in the heart of downtown Whitehorse, the Riverside Grocery might not be the sleekest zero waste store. But for as long as they have been in business (since 1982), the store has been the go-to for organic, local, and eco-friendly products.

The Riverside Grocery helps the local economy by partnering with local farmers and producers to provide customers with the freshest produce. Not only that, the family-owned store is also well stocked with Yukon products, from smoked salmon, birch syrup, to body care items.

Customers who are after plant-based, ethical products whether local or imported, can buy what they need in bulk. Check out their store here.

Zero Waste Options: Check Your Local Grocery Store

Aside from these awesome zero waste stores all over Canada, there’s one more stop we want you to check out: your own local grocery!

You never know, they might be implementing new rules that are more in line with zero waste practices. For example, some stores allow the BYOC for certain bulk goods. Ask the customer service next time you shop.

Do you have any other zero waste store fave that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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