Local Guide to Waste-Free Shopping

Victoria Garofalo had been working as a biologist for almost ten years but felt like something was missing in her life. What she wanted was a job where she could help create a healthier world. Victoria has two young children and was worried about their futures. The problem was how to accomplish that. “I wanted to do more to not only reduce our family’s waste footprint but help others in our community do the same,” said Garofalo.

After months of research, Garofalo set up a business that sells eco-friendly products that reduce waste by reducing consumption and packaging. Welcome to A Greener Place in Waterdown, where all products are made of organic and vegan formulations and are respectful to the environment in that they don’t include carcinogens, parabens, phosphates, or sulfates. “The products we carry are meant to last, but they also carry a responsible footprint when they reach the end of their lifespan,” said Garofalo.

Cleaning products for the home include a toilet bowl cleaner that’s made from baking soda, citric acid, and peppermint essential oil. Her products for the body include a brown sugar body scrub and clay deodorant made of coconut oil. All packaging is reusable, refillable, or locally handmade.

For those getting into zero waste, Garofalo said the concept can be a little daunting which is why she suggests people start by simply replacing a single-use product with a reusable or plastic-free option. “Thoughtful and reduced consumption is a more realistic approach to reducing your everyday waste,” advises Garofalo.

When the pandemic hit, Garofalo introduced a mason jar deposit/refund program where customers pre-fill clean mason jars with refill products and people return the empty jars which are sanitized and reused.

A Greener Space is one of a handful of zero-waste stores that have popped up recently in response to the public’s growing desire to preserve and respect the environment.

At EcoFillosophy in Bronte, the goal of co-founders, Thanh To and Renata Darling, is to encourage people to live more sustainably. They sell all-natural home and personal care products that come in packaging that can be reused, refilled, or recycled. “We aim to keep our footprint small by targeting small-batch makers from across Canada,” said To, who launched the full-service refillery shop in July.

Their products include laundry detergent, dish and hand soaps, shampoos, lotions, deodorants, toothpaste, and floss. They offer glass and aluminum jars and tins, as well as pumps and sprayers that customers can purchase or borrow. Customers can also bring their own empty, clean, and dry containers. 

Since COVID-19 hit, they’ve been disinfecting all containers brought to the shop before and after filling.

While their customers range in age and backgrounds, To said their similarity is that “they are all trying to do the best for their families and the world around us.” “Some have been refilling for years and come with well-loved containers to cart their goods home,” said To.

Koby Hicks’s inspiration to open the Refillery Market came to her while she was throwing out an empty laundry detergent dispenser.  “I stopped in my tracks thinking, Why can’t I simply refill this bottle and continue to use it?”

As owner/operator, Hicks said Refillery Market offers Canadian-made products that are free from harmful chemicals to protect people and the environment.  They offer home essentials in bulk along with zero-waste goods like shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, mouthwash and lotion, detergents, cleaning vinegar, and dryer balls. Eliminating plastic waste is their end goal so they buy in bulk. Once the product has been used, they take the packaging back to sanitize and reuse.

Hicks normally sells their products at the Burlington Farmers’ Market and The Civitan Farmers Market in Oakville, but has switched since the pandemic to focus more on home delivery within the local area.  Orders are now delivered in 3 sizes of mason jars, with a $2 deposit fee.  Once customers are ready to refill their jars, they leave the empty ones on the doorstep on the delivery day, and they are swapped with the full ones!

Besides their love of the environment and clean-products, each of these forward-thinking establishments has another thing in common, “We’re bringing back the milkman method,” said Hicks.

Written By: Denise Davy

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