The following case studies highlight just a few of the small businesses and organizations in Toronto that are supporting the Reducing Single-Use program by reducing their single-use waste or by helping businesses find ways to replace the single-use items they use in their day-to-day operations with reusable options.

These businesses and organizations are supporting waste reduction and reducing environmental impacts by:

  • Piloting and encouraging the use of reusable items and providing reusable foodservice ware to support waste-free dining
  • Working towards the elimination of single-use and takeaway items in their day-to-day operations including offering customer refill stations and zero waste supplies
  • Sourcing products from local, independent businesses and purchasing in bulk

Making green living more accessible

Green & Frugal was established with the goal of making good quality natural products more affordable to all. They aim to help more people live a lower waste, more sustainable lifestyle by offering refill stations and zero waste supplies using plastic-free reusable packaging, which supports the reduction of waste from packaging and single-use and takeaway items.

Our reducing single-use journey

Tara, the owner of Green & Frugal, opened the first bricks-and-mortar location in April 2018, selling body care products at direct pricing and packaged in glass jars. Soon after opening, they piloted a refill station where customers could bring in their own reusable containers and receive a product discount of anywhere from 10 to 30 per cent. The pilot was so successful that in summer 2018, Green & Frugal made it a permanent program and dedicated half of their retail space to the refill station. The refill station also includes a do-it-yourself area where customers can buy body care product ingredients in bulk to create their own products. This allows customers to buy only the quantities they require and avoid the plastic packaging that typically comes with the purchase of ingredients to make your own products at home.

In August 2020, Green & Frugal opened two additional store locations including a retail and warehouse space allowing for their body care products to be made and sold in house. Many of the ingredients for production of their body care line are purchased in large metal barrels which, when empty, are an in-demand product for reuse by customers for purposes such as rain barrels. To reduce as much waste as possible, Green & Frugal saves and reuses shipping boxes and the associated packaging to fulfill their own online delivery orders. Green & Frugal also hosts drop-off boxes for items including plastic razors and glass jars for reuse and recycling by third-party service providers.

 A few words

“We started Green & Frugal with the intention of making truly natural body care affordable to all, while helping to reduce waste.  We figured, how are things supposed to change if only a small group of us can afford the typically expensive “green” products. While offering low prices has been very financially challenging in staying open, we are rewarded daily with all the love and thanks we get from our customers.”

-Tara, Owner, Green & Frugal

Our future plans for reducing single-use and takeaway items

Green & Frugal plans to continue its efforts to reduce waste by offering onsite workshops and social media videos that educate the community on making their own zero waste body care products and other waste reduction related topics like how to reduce waste on a budget. Green & Frugal will soon begin a reusable take-a-bag/leave-a-bag program to allow customers to reuse the bags as intended instead of purchasing reusable bags should they forget to bring one. Green & Frugal is also looking at expanding their deposit-return jar system across more of the manufactured body care line.

About Green & Frugal

Founded in 2018 with the first storefront in Scarborough, Green & Frugal is now located in the Upper Beaches neighbourhood in Toronto. They continue to offer affordable natural body care products packed in plastic-free refillable containers, sustainable living supplies and a refill station for their body care products and individual ingredients.

Always on the lookout for better alternatives to single-use packaging

The Goods is a restaurant offering plant-based and mostly organic food and a waste-free dine-in experience where all meals and beverages are served using reusable foodservice ware, utensils and other table setting items made from reusable materials. This restaurant also encourages the use of reusables for their takeout, catering and home delivery services. Through these actions, the Goods supports the reduction of waste from packaging and single-use and takeaway items.

Our reducing single-use journey

Since it was established in 2012, the Goods has prioritized the sourcing of products in bulk from local, independent businesses to support them and reduce waste through bulk purchases. When the business moved to its main Roncesvalles location in 2018, it began using reusable foodservice ware to provide waste-free in-store dining and encouraging customers to bring their own reusable food and beverage containers to pack leftovers when they dine in. The Goods is committed to shifting customer habits from choosing individually packaged single-use and takeaway items to reusable container options. In 2019, the Goods started a Bring-Your-Own program for takeout to encourage customers to bring their own reusable food containers. The Goods also offers a refillable glass beverage container program for both in-store dining and takeaway. In 2021, they signed up with a service provider to offer meals at a discounted price to reduce food waste, which to date has prevented more than 550 meals from going to waste. In April 2022, the Goods re-established the use of reusable foodservice ware, including napkins, for their dine-in space. The Goods catering service offers customers a waste-free catering experience that uses reusable packaging.

A few words

“Our customers think it’s really great to have their meals served using reusable plates and cutlery.”

– Lisa Labute, Owner, the Goods

Future plans for reducing single-use and takeaway items

To further improve their waste reduction efforts, the Goods plans to provide training to their staff on environmental sustainability, including how to further reduce waste from  single-use and takeaway items. The Goods is working towards a partnership with a third-party reusable container service for their takeout and low waste catering options for customers.

About the Goods

The Goods owner, Lisa Labute, started this mostly organic restaurant with a philosophy – that food has the power to make change. As much as possible, the Goods supports local charities and events directed at assisting at-risk individuals who identify as female. In 2020, through donations and a loan program, a Community Meal Program was started to prepare meals and deliver them to at-risk individuals in group homes, shelters, and long-term care facilities.

Offering a one-stop shop for zero waste shopping

Unboxed Market is a zero waste grocery store designed to be a one-stop shop for daily groceries and home care products, offering everything a regular grocery store has  without the unnecessary packaging. Unboxed Market aims to avoid single-use packaging whenever possible by selling their products in bulk and using deposit-return containers. When this is not possible, products are sold in paper, aluminum or glass containers to maintain the highest rate of successful recyclability. Unboxed Market supports the reduction of waste and single-use and takeaway items by reducing packaging from the products offered in-store and food accessory items at their prepared meal counter.

Our reducing single-use journey

In 2019, Unboxed Market implemented an ask-first/by-request policy for single-use accessory food items, such as utensils and napkins, for takeaway service at their prepared meal counter. They also began encouraging customers to bring their own reusable containers and shopping bags. Unboxed Market also introduced a deposit-return system for reusable food and beverage containers and began participating in a reusable sharing program for food containers. Unboxed Market also uses reusable food accessory items such as utensils, for dine-in service. The store’s Bulk Refillery Program provides customers with the opportunity to bring their own clean reusable containers and shop for refills of bulk groceries and home care products.

 A few words

“Our entire business is designed to reduce excess packaging and single-use plastics. Countless single-use containers have not been introduced to the waste stream because of our bulk, reuse and refillery programs”

– Michelle Genttner, Owner, Unboxed Market

Future plans for reducing single-use and takeaway items

Once Unboxed Market receives their café licence, reusable foodservice ware will be provided for dine-in service in addition to the reusable food accessory items already accepted and provided. Unboxed Market is also working with a third-party service provider of reusable containers to create a secondary product distribution line with clear lids to be able to pre-pack and display grab-and-go meals.

About Unboxed Market

Unboxed Market opened its doors in 2019 and is a full-service grocery store, which offers a daily prepared meal counter with a vision of minimizing single-use waste and only buying what you need. Customers who bring their own reusable containers have the containers weighed before their items are packaged. Unboxed Market also offers reusable services to accommodate customers who forget to, or choose not to, bring their own.

Using reusable food containers for a drop-in meal program

Weston King Neighbourhood Centre (the Centre) is a not-for-profit organization that offers drop-in services for community members facing social and economic barriers. The Centre’s meal program encourages clients to dine in using the reusable foodservice ware provided and to use reusable food containers for takeaway meals. By gifting reusables to its community members, the Centre found an innovative solution to support the reduction of waste from single-use and takeaway items in the delivery of their meal program.

Our reducing single-use journey

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meal program at the Centre was an indoor, cafeteria-style seated service that utilized reusable foodservice ware. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the meal program was moved outdoors where clients were served meals at the door using single-use and takeaway food containers, cups, utensils and bags. The organization recognized the environmental impact of these single-use items, noticing an increase in litter on the streets in the community. They also felt the financial impact of increased costs. In 2022, when the meal program was again offered indoors, the Centre started a pilot project where they asked their clients to bring their own reusable food containers to the program. Uptake during the pilot was slow so, as part of a Christmas Giving Basket in December initiative, the Centre gifted their clients with reusable food containers and a reusable bag to be used for takeout meals from the meal program. The Centre once again encourages clients to dine in more often and make use of the durable foodservice ware provided . In addition to environmental benefits, the Centre has seen a positive financial impact as a result of reducing single-use items in their meal program, which allows them to redirect the savings towards providing better food options for clients.

 A few words

“Accepting reusable containers as well as in-person dining allows us to offer choices that suit our participants’ needs while also reducing costs and our environmental impacts. We continue to look for improvements to the program and welcome suggestions for affordable reusable coffee and soup containers.”

– Barbara Stone, President, Weston King Neighbourhood Centre

Future plans for reducing single-use and takeaway items

The Centre plans to continue encouraging clients to dine in and to use the meal program’s durable foodservice ware. The Centre is on the lookout for a reasonable cost solution to providing clients with reusable cups for hot drinks and soup.

About Weston King Neighbourhood Centre

Established as a non-profit community centre in 2001, the Centre provides essential services and support to vulnerable and marginalized individuals. People affected by social and economic barriers in the community can always find help at the Centre. Their mission is to provide a response to the people within the community who are coping with economic and/or social barriers, and to help lessen those barriers and the burden of poverty for the communities of Weston and Mount Dennis.

Encouraging a zero waste market experience

Withrow Park Farmers’ Market (Withrow Market) is an incorporated non-profit organization run by a market manager and supported by volunteers and local residents. The vision for Withrow Market is a local sustainable economy that strengthens community connections and environmental stewardship. Withrow Market has taken steps towards a zero waste market experience by encouraging and piloting the use of reusables at the market and reducing their use of single-use and takeaway items.

Our reducing single-use journey

Since its start, Withrow Market has encouraged customers to bring their own reusable food containers, beverage cups and bags. In 2017, after realizing how much waste from single-use and takeaway items from Withrow Market was going to landfill, they started the first of their voluntary programs, the Take-a-Bag-Leave-a-Bag reusable bag program. Withrow Market also launched a pilot program for reusable coffee mugs where disposable coffee cups were replaced with reusable ceramic coffee mugs at their coffee booth. In 2018, Withrow Market replaced their reusable coffee mug pilot with an expanded zero waste pilot program, which included reusable cutlery, plates and bowls for prepared food vendors and food eaten at the market. As a result, they kept an estimated 1,900 single-use and takeaway items out of landfill between 2017 and 2018. Their zero waste program became permanent in 2019 and resulted in more than 10,000 single-use and takeaway items being diverted from landfill over 20 market days.

Withrow Market has now committed to becoming a low waste farmers’ market by creating a formal zero waste policy. In 2019, they phased out disposable coffee cups, and also started promoting vendors who reduce single-use and takeaway items through online vendor profiles, social media and signs posted in vendor spaces on market days. In 2021, Withrow Market partnered with a service provider to introduce a reusable takeout container sharing program and began a program to accept clean plastic takeout containers with matching lids to be redistributed to restaurants for reuse. In the 2022 season, Withrow Market partnered with service providers to continue to provide reusable takeout containers, in addition to introducing a coffee mug sharing program. They also re-introduced their voluntary reusable dishware and cutlery programs that had been suspended during the 2020 and 2021 market seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for customers staying at Withrow Market to eat their meals in the park.

 A few words

” The market continues to explore waste reduction opportunities that support our vendors and customers. Going forward, we will be looking at ways to reward our most waste conscious vendors and customers.”

– Laura Scrivener, Manager, Withrow Farmers’ Market

Future plans for reducing single-use and takeaway items

Withrow Market envisions transitioning its voluntary reusable dishware program to be mandatory for all participating prepared food vendors, as well as for the vendors to provide reusable foodservice ware. Withrow Market sees an opportunity to advance its transition towards zero waste through its Bring-Your-Own program, which will require participating vendors to accept reusables from customers.

About Withrow Park Farmers’ Market

Withrow Market’s first season was in 2006. Their mission is to be a well-run, financially secure and community supported group that provides a platform for environmental and community initiatives, which is built around an inclusive farmers’ market of ecological farmers, food artisans and artists. From the beginning, Withrow Market has been managed by local residents wanting to enhance their community, support local organic farmers and food producers, and make it easier for local shoppers to access fresh and healthy food.

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