The growing waste-free industry spans a wide range of companies, from soap dispensaries to coffee shops—and even package-free groceries stores. To date, 40% of plastic in Canada is used for packaging, and more than 55 million plastic bags are used by Canadians each week. In 2017, 330,000 pieces of plastic and foam debris were found on along 2,800 kilometers of shoreline alone.
In Scouts, every outdoor activity and daily aspect of life utilizes the ‘Leave No Trace’ principle to take active steps towards preserving our environment. Through actions like checking our campsite for garbage at the end of the trip, using biodegradable soaps, or responsibly containing campfires, we can enjoy the beauty of our surroundings while being mindful that sites are left in the same condition that they were found in, or better.
Similarly, we can do our best to leave no trace while going about our daily lives, like shopping for groceries. Bringing reusable bags for groceries and using a travel mug for beverages are a great start. Materials such as paper, cotton, and wood are also environmentally friendly and great alternatives to plastic products.
If you’re located in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax or other Canadian areas, don’t miss these top 6 Canadian package-free destinations to meet your household shopping needs. To find other trendsetters across Canada that abide by a zero-waste philosophy, be sure to visit PAREdown.
NADA Grocery, Vancouver
NADA is a package-free grocery store whose reputation has been growing in popularity across Canada. Nada, meaning nothing in Spanish, embodies the company’s zero-waste branding.
NADA’s philosophy includes providing locally sourced grocery items that are of high quality and sold without any packaging. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable containers when purchasing products. NADA also uses dishwasher safe tags to record the weight of empty containers, enabling returning customers to bypass the “Tap and Weigh” checkout portion.Nada Grocery Website
Soap Dispensary, Vancouver
Meet Vancouver’s first refill shop for household cleaning products. They offer a large variety of natural products including soaps, laundry detergents, stain removers, bleach and shampoos. Their products are stored in large containers, allowing customers to easily fill their own bottles with the amount of product desired. The products sold by the Soap Dispensary are also biodegradable, organic and fair trade.Soap Dispensary Website
Opening this fall, Tare will be Halifax’s first zero waste coffee and grocery shop. The name Tare originates from the concept of weighing an empty container before adding in the good to be weighed. This name embodies the grocery component of the store, as customers are able to weigh the amount of the product needed in their own containers.
The new addition of the café will also follow the package-free trend of the grocery store by functioning without plastic cups, straws or plastic-wrapped bakery items.Tare Shop Website
Bulk Basket, Saskatoon
Each year, billions of dollars worth of food go to waste. The Bulk Basket aims to reduce food wastage and food insecurity in Saskatoon by providing a waste-conscious, plastic free grocery store. As a plastic-free store, the brand minimizes both food and package waste and offers alternatives to plastic bags such as compostable bags and organic-cotton containers.
Bare Market, Toronto
The Bare Market is one of Toronto’s pop up shops that offers a wide range of package-free goods, from body products, to food and home care. Their partnership with The Eco Well allows their products to be regulated for quality and environmental sustainability.Bare Market Website
Nu Grocery, Ottawa
Inspired by Zero Waste Home, a book by Bea Johnson that outlines a guide for zero-waste living, Nu Grocery offers a variety of products without package-waste. Offering grocery items, dry foods, baked good and even beauty and household products, this shop can meet nearly every need. Their online component also offers products that are packaged in recyclable paper, which can be reused.Nu Grocery Website
Find a spot near you
Don’t live in the cities mentioned? Check out PAREdown, an online site that helps shoppers locate zero-waste stores near them. Major Canadian cities are listed on the website with their corresponding stores.
Not only are there grocery stores included, but there are also restaurants, farmers markets and clothing stores from which to choose. Their website also features an online blog portion with ways to incorporate zero-waste mindfulness into your lifestyle.
Having been a member of the Scouting Movement for the past 13 years, I can personally attest to the importance of reducing our carbon footprint and preserving the natural beauty of our environment. Through the Scouting program I have had the opportunity to embark on numerous outdoor activities including hiking, camping, biking and canoeing. During each of our Scouting adventures, we incorporate the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles to ensure that our presence does not have a negative impact on the environment.
The zero-waste movement is a great way to reduce our carbon footprint in Canada and around the world, while incorporating Scouting’s environmentally responsible approach into our daily lives.