Zero Waste Shopping Guide British Columbia
*This article was written by Ariel Wyse
Our Provincial Wide Zero Waste Resource Guides continue with the west coast of Canada. Here is the Zero Waste Guide British Columbia.
In researching BC, I realized how much a city can do to help its’ citizens reduce their waste. The City of Vancouver has a goal of Zero Waste by 2040. Vancouver’s report highlights the importance of shifting from the typical “extract, produce, consume, dispose” system to focussing on intervening at key moments, and disposing of as a very last resort.
The report also highlighted initiatives to “expand and normalize re-use”. This phrase jumped out at me: it’s increasingly noticeable that we see disposable as a sign of wealth, or that owning irregularly used items that are somehow a symbol of control over our lives. A city that incentivizes the sharing of resources, re-enforces the sentiment of ‘do it yourself’ or creates an infrastructure that supports the use of second-hand items is one that I want to live in.
The catch is, I’m not moving, so better off making it happen at home! Next guide: Manitoba!
British Columbia has been an exciting shopping guide to write! There are a lot of perks to experimenting with Zero Waste, but one of my favourite discoveries are the creative business ideas that come out of reducing waste. Some of my favourites are Rebel Soup, Lupii Community Café, and One Big Table.
BC Farmer’s Market Trail – With over 145 farmers' markets in the province, search by region to find one near you! Don’t forget your reusable bags.
Bulk Barn - As of February 2017, Bulk Barn allows customers to bring their own reusable containers rather than using the plastic bags provided in-store. Click here for a list of locations.
Nature's Fare - Has in-store composting systems and collaborates with Farmers to use leftover food waste. 10% bulk discounts.
Motherlove Ferments - Kelowna-based Kombucha brewers that work with a local recycling/compost business for pick-ups of their disposables, and ensures waterproof labels on their glass bottles so that none of their products packagings goes to waste. Distributed throughout BC.
Value Village – A popular second-hand retailer with locations in every province; they have pretty frequent sales throughout the year as well as a free “Super Savers Club” membership that entitles you to 20% off on your birthday.
Diva Cup – A reusable menstrual cup that you can find at retailers all over the province.
Lush – cult cosmetic company with locations all over Canada; their “5 Pot Program” allows you to return five of their post-consumer recycled plastic containers in store in exchange for a free face mask. 35% of their products come single-use packaging-free.
Routine Natural Deodorant – A spunky deodorant company toting sumptuous smells like ‘vegan cat lady’; sold in dozens of locations across BC. Most exciting: offers refills in Kimberly, Revelstoke and Vancouver - check their FAQ page!
Sapadilla - A “nice little eco-cleaner” for your home! Sells dish soap, hand soap, all-purpose cleaners, laundry liquids and more. With refill stations across Canada, find one near you here.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore – Each ReStore is different, selling used and surplus furnishings and building materials. With some locations, you can even donate your kitchen prior to renovations: a crew will come and salvage the pre-renovation space! There are 17 locations in BC.
Staples – Sells paper-wrapped toilet paper, and has drop bins to recycle old markers, pens, mechanical pencils, batteries, cell phones, printer ink, and toner cartridges.
Mountain Equipment Co-op – Not only does MEC publish an annual report on their carbon emissions, but they also do a twice-annual waste audit of their store dumpsters to find ways to lessen their environmental impact. On top of all that, their selection of reusable and eco-friendly gear knows no bounds!
BC Recyclepedia App - No, this isn’t a storefront, but it is pretty dang cool. This app is handy, user-friendly and tells you what to recycle where no matter your location in BC.
Related Post: Zero Waste Shopping Guide: Nova Scotia
Used House of Vintage - Funky retro finds at bargain prices. Delight in the vintage tees, sorted by colour!
My Sister’s Closet - Revenue from clothing sold funds the prevention and intervention services of Battered Women’s Support Services.
Community Thrift and Vintage - A social enterprise thrift store where women living in the Downtown Eastside are employed in order to build skills in a supportive workplace. All profits go to the PHS Community Services Society.
Turnabout Luxury Retail - A Vancouver staple for the past 40 years, Turnabout Luxury Retail rejects fast fashion, encouraging the purchase of high quality, long-lasting clothing and home furnishings. A consignment store that also supports non-profit community organizations. Visit one of their 6 locations and you will not be disappointed!
Second Suit for Men & Women - Smartly curated consignment store with a good selection of both men's and women's pieces.
Nada - Bring your own reusable containers to this zero-waste grocery store and join in the tap-fill-pay movement. The most unique part to Nada’s website is the blog series about building a low-impact grocery store: an opportunity to re-think what is necessary for construction projects!
The Soap Dispensary & Kitchen Staples - You can refill a surprisingly vast selection of kitchen items, all listed on their website. Another great perk is that you can drop off your containers, make your refill order, and then return to the store once you’re done in the area!
Rebel Soup - Customers can go for a monthly subscription for up to 1-4 flavours per week, available for pickup in 750 ml Mason Jars. Your delicious, nutritious and vegan soup comes from local farmers’ collection of blemished, un-sellable produce. A zero-waste dream!
les amis du FROMAGE - If you need a sophisticated cheese plate for an event or a party you can get one here served on a beautiful Art Glass plate that les amis du FROMAGE will ask you to return afterwards so that they can re-use it for other orders.
Lupii Community Café - Zero waste caterers who also deliver the "lupiibox," a weekly subscription box containing fruits and vegetables that are blemished or irregular in shape which would otherwise end up in a landfill. They also run a community space, where there are free dinners, workshops on re-purposing items, and other innovative events.
Ayoub's Dried Fruits & Nuts - a specialty store with a wide array of nuts, seeds, dried fruits and candy; you can bring your own containers to the store but their weight will not be tared from the price so lightweight re-usable bags are recommended (they also have compostable paper bags you can use).
Flashfood - An app that lets shoppers know when produce close to its best-before date is on sale at participating stores; you can help rescue perfectly good food from the landfill and save money!
Spud.ca - As an online delivery service, Spud.ca operates on a “fresh daily” basis, avoiding over-ordering for inventory’s sake. Goods are purchased from local producers, including imperfect vegetables, and brought to you in the most efficient routing possible. They’ll also ensure any packaging in your bin are recycled correctly: put packaging back in the re-usable bin your food comes in.
Whole Foods - Gives a 10¢ discount for every reusable bag; you can keep the discount or donate it back to charity. Click here for a list of locations.
Bridge Brewing - Committed to zero waste, Bridge Brewing makes its products with as little impact on the earth as they can. The Brewery even has a “rye-cycle” beer: made of unsold bread that’s been re-purposed to a rye spice flavour.
Terra Breads - Uses colour-coded bins to indicate what bakers can put in each. Waste in each bin is either recycled or composted, and disposable utensils are compostable.
The Soap Dispensary - Shop where you can refill a vast range of hair-care, bath and beauty products, including more than 70 essential oils. You don’t actually have to bring in the containers empty; they will simply tare it at its weight.
Rocky Mountain Soap – Refillable soap bottles, shampoo bars, and even a lip quench line that is sold in biodegradable packaging. Storefronts and workshop space are engaging in many waste-reduction initiatives, which you can find out about on their blog.
Delish General Store - Come take a look at their “Jar Bar”, where you can find mason jars with chalkboard lids for easy labeling or other eco-friendly alternatives to saran wrap and sandwich bags.
Saucy Bottoms - twice-weekly delivery of organic cotton diapers to your door as well as dirty diaper pickup.
Soapstand - Their website doesn’t say where to find these yet, but the concept is a refillable soap vending machine that can be put in grocery stores and apartment buildings, payable by credit card at the machine. Bring your bottle, fill ‘er up and get on with your life!
The Zero Waste Emporium has compiled an impressive local list of zero waste resources in Victoria. I’ve researched a few extras that weren’t on there, but otherwise, check out their page!
Zero Waste Emporium - A comprehensive zero-waste store with kitchen staples, personal care items, zero waste goods, cleaning products and more.
The Community Cabbage - Local grocery stores donate unsellable food so that student volunteers from the University of Victoria can serve up a vegetarian meal in a community kitchen. Anyone can join in cooking, and in eating!
West Coast Refill - A wide selection of refillable household cleaning and body care products. It also carries fundamental zero waste goods like bamboo toothbrushes, handkerchiefs and stainless steel containers!
Big Wheel Burger - Canada’s first carbon-neutral fast food restaurant- as they say, “without the guilt trip”. Food Eco District (FED) helps them to compost food waste and they also have biodiesel fuelled van. Nothing from the customer area goes to landfills, as it’s all in compostable packaging.
The Patch Clothing - A collection of funky and delightful outfits you never thought possible.
Beacon Community Thrift Shop - Partners with Victoria Cool Aid Society to staff several thrift stores with volunteers. Funds are in direct support of programs for homeless youth, kids literacy, and care for elders with dementia.
Women in Need Community Cooperative - Thrift stores with clothing and household goods that fund support and empowerment programs for women in crisis.
One Big Table - As of 2018, ran a ‘hug a mug’ program in order to completely remove disposable cups on their take-out coffee. Customers can carry on their day with a re-usable mug and bring it back the next time they’re in!
The Naked Cafe - This Vegan Cafe has a new express location that serves up iced drinks with the option of a .75 deposit to have it in a glass jar and take it with you. Their salads always come in take-home glass jars. Bring the jar back to get your deposit back.
Farm Bound Zero Waste Grocery - Set to open in October 2018; check the website for updates!
Frock and Fellow - Vintage consignment store that donates unsold items to the Kelowna Women’s Shelter thrift store.
Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift Store - All proceeds directly support victims of intimate partner violence and abuse.
Related Post: Zero Waste Shopping Guide: Ontario
Unless Market - No longer has a storefront but still carries refillable personal care and household products as well as zero waste goods as explained on the contact us page.
Editor’s Note: We have two wonderful writers here on The Eco Hub, this guide is courtesy of Libby and Ariel.
Do you have anything to add to our Zero Waste Shopping Guide: BC?
Squamish has the Grounded Grocer – which has bulk foods, plastic free Home Goods, oils, soaps, and beauty products as well! 🙂 Might be a good add to your list!
Twisted Sisters Bath and Body is a 100% all natural skin care company that is owned by an LGBTQ and Indigenous sister duo based in Chilliwack BC. Just some of the ways that we are helping the environment in our business practices:
All of our ingredients are locally sourced wherever possible.
We use 100% all natural ingredients, organic wherever possible.
Our products are plant based, with the exception of organic beeswax in some products. (But organic beeswax promotes healthy beekeeping and lord knows we need the bees so win win!)
We do not use palm oil.
We use biodegradable lip balm tubes.
Biodegradable bags for our bath bombs and soaps.
We use eco friendly stickers.
We also use only recyclable containers.
We ship using biodegradable packing ‘peanuts’ (not actually made from peanuts)
Our thank you notes are printed on native wildflower seed paper.
AND we plant a tree with every order made (including wholesale)
Located in Chilliwack you can shop at http://www.twistedsistersbathandbody.com. we offer free local pickup, shipping, and are available at various stores in the Lower Mainland as well.
The Green Vanity in Kelowna, BC (she has a website); natural, sustainable products, completely enviro friendly with programs for returning empty containers etc. etc.
Thanks for sharing Shelley.
Since Amazon bought them Whole Foods doesn’t do the bag program anymore. Loblaws banners aside from t and t still have their points for bag program. All reusable bags you bring in will be credited 10 points per bag. Once you accumulate 10 000 points,its 10 dollars off your grocery bill. BUT the points per bag program only applies to people who have the pc Mastercard and are paying with it. Otherwise you don’t get anything. I’ve passed on a question to them asking about possibly extending the program to include reusable produce bags and I was told they will look into it. Lots of bulk options available but recently downsized it.
You are also missing Vancouver Pen Shop, Nikado And Charals. You can get stationary supplies with no plastic packaging. Just the pen itself.
Thanks for the info.
You missed The Chuckling Duckling in Fort Langley!!
We do our best, thanks for letting us know.