Toronto: buying household stuff in no packaging/reduced packaging?
November 7, 2018 9:55 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to reduce my plastic usage but realised that my family goes through a lot of single-use plastic bottles and containers for food, cleaners, etc. I know many places where I can get peanut butter and other food in bulk, but is there somewhere in Toronto that sells household cleaners in bulk or reduced packaging?

I remember that in the 1990s, there was a movement to sell refills for cleaners like dishsoap, laundry soap, floor and bathroom cleaners in lower-waste packages (like firm bags). I have no idea what happened to them, but I haven't seen them in years.

Challenge: I'm live near downtown/west-end Toronto and I don't drive (so I can get to TTC-accessible places only). Also, like everyone else, I don't have a lot of shopping time.

I'm open to ordering things online if they will ship at reasonable cost within Canada; for brick-and-mortar shops, I'm looking for somewhere ideally between the Humber, Eglinton, the Don and the lake - or along one of the subway lines.

(I'm not committed to any brands for cleaners and happy to use 'green' products (though I'm always a bit skeptical about how green they really are). For laundry soap, I'm a bit more limited due to family allergies. And I know I can make things out of vinegar, etc. But then where do I get the vinegar that isn't in a plastic bottle?)
posted by jb to Shopping (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have not tried this yet because I am not in their delivery area but there's I hope there are other ideas in this thread too.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:12 AM on November 7, 2018

If this list is up to date, you might want to visit Karma Co-Op.
posted by wellred at 10:20 AM on November 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, Karma Food Co-Op (in the Annex) definitely has household products in bulk so you can bring reusable containers and refill them.
posted by piamater at 10:25 AM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Well - for foodstuffs, there is the "Bulk Barn", but I have never seen anything similar for cleaning products. Possibly because mixing those various raw chemical ingredients could end-up with some unforeseen consequences... (Just as, I am willing to bet, alot of cleaning products are "watered" down quite a bit, to be "safer")
posted by jkaczor at 10:26 AM on November 7, 2018

i just browsed Bulk Barn's website and see they list soaps for both bodies, dishes, clothing, and dishwashers. . . but I have no personal experience buying anything but bridge mix and ringaloos there.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:29 AM on November 7, 2018

This may also be helpful - along with other tips, it contains the names of some zero waste stores in the city.
posted by piamater at 10:38 AM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Bare Market does pop-up zero-waste shops every two weeks or so at the Patagonia store (500 King St. West). There's one this Sunday. They hope to open a permanent store in the future, but there's no clear timeline that I know.

The owner was inspired by Vancouver's Soap Dispensary, which is pretty much what you're looking for, I think. They focus on green cleaning, and are pretty good about having low-allergen soap options. They're a one-stop shop for cooking stuff, too. (One caveat: dispensaries like these can be sl-o-o-o-o-w. My Vancouver friends actually stopped going to Soap Dispensary because it always took forever. So you may want to budget a bit of time, and do one stock-up a month or so. But hopefully Bare Market will have learned from this issue when it opens permanently!)
posted by halation at 10:52 AM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thank you! I knew about Karma Coop (and Bulk Barn, of course), but thought they only did food. I will check them out for cleaners, as well as the Bare Market.
posted by jb at 11:01 AM on November 7, 2018

Noah's also do this. Grassroots also, but I think they may have closed down everywhere
posted by scruss at 11:48 AM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

The brand Method, which is available in many places, like Canadian Tire and Shopper's Drug Mart, sells those firm bags you're thinking of for some of their refills.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:49 AM on November 7, 2018

Bulk barn sells soap and such but not by weight. They just have regular old products in the same packaging as everyone else on the shelves.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:10 PM on November 7, 2018

Just fyi, I have successfully transitioned to doing 90% of my household cleaning with ordinary dishsoap in varying dilutions. Dishes, counters, walls, floors, sinks, toilets, tubs, pretty much everything (just don't put too much in the toilet!). It's biodegradable, phosphate-free, and gentle on skin. You can even use bar soap instead and go zero waste. (You shred bar soap to make liquid cleaner). One bottle of dishsoap dedicated for household cleaning lasts... A long time, anyways.

For laundry, you can either buy laundry bar soap and make your own liquid or buy standard powder soap in big cardboard cartons.

For vinegar I think you'll have to decide whether it's better to get a small glass bottle or a massive plastic jug, but I believe those jugs are recycleable.
posted by windykites at 10:00 PM on November 7, 2018

This company can deliver soaps etc in refillable containers or you can bring your own to their refill locations (Bloordate and the west end Tool Library, last I checked):
posted by girlpublisher at 9:22 AM on November 8, 2018

« Older What's a practical way of managing batteries for...   |   Best Practices for Cooking and Cocktails and... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments