Shopping for zero waste supplies in Canada is getting easier with more bulk shops popping up daily and more zero waste online stores offering a wide range of options to choose from.
Sometimes in our green journey, we have to actually purchase items (like un-paper towels) which kind of takes away from the concept of reducing waste right? There are places to get zero waste items without spending a fortune and in some cases, you’ll even get it for free!
The idea of going zero waste can be challenging for most, especially when you consider some people are actually producing waste that fits in a mason jar. Not doable for many of us. Before you begin your zero waste journey, it's important to understand What Zero Waste Living Actually means.
The first step to zero waste begins by making small decisions in one area of your home and going from there.
Before you start shopping for any zero waste supplies, make a list of what you actually need. Are you looking to replace a single-use item with something more sustainable? Do you need glass jars for bulk shopping? Do you need reusable bags to carry groceries and other items? These 85 Tips for Sustainable Living is packed full of ways to get started.
Zero Waste Supplies In Canada: Online In Your Own Neighbourhood
One of the best places to find everything from Mason jars to reusable bags online is BUNZ, it’s an APP where you can actually swap what you need with people who live in your neighbourhood. I just scored a Go Pro Camera! You can search for items easily.
Here are some of the things I looked for: Mason Jars, great for food storage and bulk shopping.
Reusable Bags, perfect for the farmers market, grocery shopping, bulk shopping etc.
The Freecycle Network is made up of 5,000+ groups with over 9 million members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Seach your province, then your city, so easy to use. EBay and other websites like Kijiji are also good places to find second-hand stores.
Zero Waste Supplies In Canada:
Vintage/ Second Hand
Stores like Value Village and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore offers a wide range of zero waste supplies and items at a fraction of what you would pay in large, trendy retail shops. Find things like cloth napkins, table cloths, glass jars and containers, furniture, side tables and even the kitchen sink (ReStore). We've got a whole post dedicated to on-line thrift shopping.
There are important things to keep in mind when shopping for vintage and second-hand clothing.
Neighbourhood Garage Sales
I simply LOVE a good garage sale and have found many things for my home including Cast iron pots and pans, Tea towels and cloth napkins, Mason jars, Tablecloths, Side lamps and much more.
Tips for shopping at a garage sale:
Plan ahead by checking your local community listing for garage sales happening in your area. Apps like Yard Sale Treasure Map, make it super easy. If you plan on driving and visiting more than one, plan that route ahead of time and make sure your car is gasses up. Hit the road early, most garage sales run from 8am - 4pm. I like to get there early for dibs on all the good stuff!
Make list, I know this sounds weird, but impulse buying is real and if you get excited when you think you've found a treasure odds are you will buy it, even if you don't need it. And then you are left with something you might have to get rid of, which defeats the purpose of shopping second-hand. Things you might be looking for picture frames, vintage dishes, unique artwork, kids toys, camping gear, tools, and exercise equipment. I'd avoid things like mattresses, pillows, baby gear and bike helmets, safety regulations can change.
Bring your own bag or box, when you shop at a farmers market you bring your own packaging, its good practice to bring bags, maybe a box, bungees cords, tape, old blanket, etc, in case you need to pack up a larger item like a coffee table.
Be prepared to negotiate, but don't low-ball! You can check eBay to see what the item you are buying is selling for, it will give you a good sense if it's cheaper, it's a great deal, if it's more expensive, then there is room to negotiate.
Zero Waste Supplies at Antique Markets
My husband and I love driving to antique markets in the summertime. I am not sure what it is, but it's simply magical to me. I always wonder who owned the item, did they love it, each piece really tells a story! I collect wooden spoons and have found so many of my fav's here. You can look for everything from cutting boards to art to picture frames, books, glass jars, cutlery, textiles and so much more.
Tips for shopping at an antique market:
Wear comfy shoes, bring cash, bring a note pad, as you walk around you will never remember where you saw that treasure, writing it down will help
Shop for the best deals in the center and the back of the market, where there is less foot traffic.
Look for items that can be repurposed. Old silver pitches can be turned into a gorgeous vase, old scarves can be sewn into pillowcases. I recently found these gorgeous old flour bags and will be making them into pillowcases.
Zero Waste Supplies: Borrow it!
In Toronto, there are three places where you can borrow items you simply don’t want to buy but may need. Back in 2016, the ‘Library of Things’ opened in Toronto. Called The Sharing Depot, it’s the first of its kind in Canada. “People should stop buying things they don’t always need,” said co-founder Ryan Dyment, adding the long-term strategy is to partner with manufacturers and make sure products are designed to be durable, reused and shared. “The idea of a circular economy is for more people to lease things rather than own them. That’s the future that I think is practical.”
You can borrow things like camping gear, toys, sports equipment and a whole lot more, there is a membership fee, but it’s totally worth it.
The Best Kind of Zero Waste is to DIY! IT!
When it comes to cleaning products you can always try and DIY, you will save money and have a little fun in the process. We've got some great recipes right here on The Eco Hub like this DIY All-Purpose Kitchen Scouring Scrub or what about this DIY All-Purpose Bathroom Scrub + Cleanser or even this DIY Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizer (That Actually Works)
And we also have province-wide Zero Waste Shopping Guides for you as well.
Do you have any tips on where to find zero waste supplies in Canada?
I'd love to hear from you. Share in the comments below.