ORGANIC BULK everything?
As I'm increasingly aware of the waste produced by just about everything we do as humans, I'm seeking a place that sells almost everything in bulk that I can re-use containers when purchasing food. Good examples are:
All of these things are packaged when purchased and I can honestly say I'm starting to get a little antsy when i'm buying at a store cause there are no options. I've found a few places in Kensington for good Peanut Butter and milk that I can return glass containers to. But mostly everything else I can't find.
I've heard of a place, but can't seem to locate it. I'd also like to be able to purchase more organic foods and ecologically friendly items (detergents and soaps) in bulk.
Anyone? Any ideas? I'm so sick of buying pasta and having to throw out those stupid plastic sleeves every time.
And I don't really care where it is in the city. Ideally not out of the downtown, but I'm willing to test my resolve.
Pinehedge yogurt is available in returnable glass bottles. They carry it at Strictly Bulk and the Big Carrot (plus tons of other health food stores). I agree with js288uk that the stretch of Danforth between Pape and the Carrot Common should meet most of your needs.
You could buy organic strawberries in the summer and make freezer jam, which is very simple to do and would be one less product for you to search for.
Many of the wet food products that you list are very hard to come by in bulk - I'm not sure, but I'd guess that there are health regulations that govern this. Jam needs to be processed in sealed containers, in batches (either in a hot water bath or a pressure canner), so I'm not sure they can be bought in bulk. Yogurt would spoil too quickly if exposed to the elements.
Now, having made those caveats, I share your desire to minimize waste, and try to cut down wherever possible. A few ideas...
Most health food stores should have the following in bulk: pasta, grains, flours, sugars, granola, legumes, spices, honey, dried fruit, nuts, nut butters (often grind-your-own), coffee, tea, chocolate, liquid soap. I buy mine at Qi on Roncesvalles (there are several other locations); others downtown include (not filtering for price): The Big Carrot, Noah's, Evergreen, Whole Foods. These stores will tend to carry organic products, and encourage you to bring your own bags, containers, etc. (One tip: if you are re-using glass containers, make sure to have the store weigh them before you fill them up, and write the weight on the lid with a permanent marker. That way they can zero out the scale before costing out the weight of your actual purchase.)
You can also buy many of the dry goods at vendors in the basement of the main (South) St. Lawrence Market: Domino's, Rube's, etc.
I buy Ewenity yogurt, which is local and sustainably produced, at farmers' markets around town; the largest container they carry is about 1L. They don't take back containers, as they are made of porous plastic and cannot be reused, but are planning on converting to glass at some point.
Oh, and the most environmentally friendly cleaners are the ones you make yourself, mostly with vinegar or baking soda. There are tons of websites which can tell you how. That way you are cutting out all kinds of toxic chemicals, and waste, all at the same time.
We live on the Danforth, so I head out to Strictly Bulk (at Pape), then onto Grassroots and Big Carrot - between those I manage to get almost all my household needs in terms of grains, cereals, spices, cleaners etc without using chemicals and commercial packaging - just make sure you take plenty of empty containers, reusable spray bottles etc with you and yes, get them weighed - this avoids using those plastic bags - I wish these places supplied strong brown paper bags for rice etc as Rube's at St Lawrence does.
For cleaning products I recommend Grassroots Environmental. There's a location on Bloor in the Annex and on on the Danforth east of Broadview near the Carrot Common. There are plenty of bulk cleaning products there.
Carrot Common (on the Danforth, as mentioned) has a grocery store with a good bulk section. I buy much of my dry beans there. There is some pasta as well I believe. Another good bet is Whole Foods, which has a bulk section. Also, don't discount Bulk Barn -the prices are right and every time I go there are more organic products available.
I haven't seen bulk yoghurt, but that doesn't mean it's not there. Also, the only bulk jam I"ve noticed is at Bulk Barn and it's pretty gross low grade supermarket quality. If you want very tasty jam in reusable containers you may want to try canning some yourself (it's not that hard and there's a nice blueberry jam recipe on this site you could try next summer).
When you bring your own containers to these places, remember to bring them to the clerk first to get them tared so you're not charged for any extra weight.
Congrats on committing to this lifestyle change. It requires a little extra effort but it's worth it.