First Zero-Waste Market in Toronto is Now Open
by Kiki Athanas
March 25, 2019
If buying overpriced pineapple imported from Brazil sold diced up in plastic containers doesn’t float your boat...maybe this will.
Toronto has officially jumped on the (actually beneficial) bandwagon of SUSTAINABILITY. Yup, being kind to the Earth is officially in - and so are those canning jars your mum always had on hand. Not so embarrassing now, is she? I, for one, love a hip trend that’s also easy on the environment!
In fact, last year I visited a super cool waste-free shop in Birmingham, UK called The Clean Kilo, and wondered why we didn’t have something as equally epic back home in Toronto. Well, the day has come my friends.
At Unboxed Market, you bring your vessels (jar, bag, whatever you have), weigh it empty, shop by filling the vessels, and then pay only for the product being purchased. It’s just as obvious and smart as it sounds, and it’s ready for you on Dundas near Dovercourt right at home in Toronto. Did I mention I love this city? Yeah, we come around eventually.
Michelle Genttner and Luís Martins are the beautiful souls behind Unboxed Market - both with hospitality backgrounds, and having worked in (and owned) bars and restaurants throughout their lives. Both Michelle and Luís also grew up in rural areas: Michelle in southwestern Ontario and Luis in the south of Portugal. I connected with Michelle to get more of the story behind how this all came to be...
“Our histories have allowed us to recognize both the ability to live without extra waste in our lives, as well as the current trend to over-consume and over-waste. Over the last few years, Luís had been considering shifting from a bar environment to a grocery store. My upbringing, in an area surrounded by agriculture and on the shores of Lake Huron, encouraged the idea of creating a store without the excess packaging inherent in today’s grocery shopping experience.”
It’s true that the ethos ‘leave every space better than you found it’ has been forgotten in recent years, and our planet is suffering for it. Unboxed Market strives to return to that mentality, by providing people with the ability to shop for what they need, without the single-use packaging that generally encases it. Michelle shares that they are far from the first (and hopefully far from the last!) store focused on eliminating single-use packaging, and this means that people have the (growing) desire to make changes in order to help protect our planet for future generations.
“Dry goods, produce, shampoo, laundry detergent, olive oil and more - we want you to be able to do all of your shopping with us. We also have a BYO café, where you can grab a treat and a beverage in your own mug/traveller, and a prepared meals table so that you can grab your lunch and dinner as well. We are also working with suppliers to get new items all the time.”
Michelle’s Top 3 Tips for Living More “Waste-Free”:
- Take the time. It sounds so simple. We are all busy. We all want to do as much as possible in the least amount of time. If you’re new to it, shopping without waste takes a little bit longer (it gets easier the more you do it!). Take the time, make a list, come shop with us (don’t forget your jars!).
- Don’t overthink it. This isn’t a cold-turkey situation. Use up the products you have at home. Make one room in your house waste-free. Then move to another area. Don’t stress about how long it takes. It took all of us time to create the habits that we have formed. It will take time to make new habits.
- Be creative about it! You don’t have to buy the latest bento box for your lunch, a large tupperware container will do. A tea towel doubles as a napkin. An old shampoo bottle can also hold dish soap. The list goes on.
Personally, I’m really excited to take it one step at a time and start building out more of a “waste-free” future for myself by shopping at stores like Unboxed Market, and as for the owners - Luis is most excited for the food: “We come from hospitality and have always taken great pride in the food that we produced. That won’t change here, and we’re always happy to feed people!” and Michelle for the community: “I’m excited about reconnecting with our neighbourhood. People have been incredibly supportive through this entire process.”