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Food & Drink

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto’s new waste-free grocery store

By Caroline Aksich| Photography by Caroline Aksich
Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

Michelle Genttner and her husband, Luis Martins both grew up in agricultural communities—she in rural Ontario, he in Portugal. When the duo decided to sell Folly Brewpub, they knew they wanted to stay closely connected to food. So they bought this Portuguese grocery store and transformed it (with some design help from Black Label Urban Design) into a shop dedicated to minimizing plastic waste and promoting Ontario products. Here’s a look around the waste-free spot.

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

There’s a small cafe at the front with beans by Delta, a sustainably run Portuguese roaster.

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

Customers are encouraged to bring their own containers, which are weighed before being filled. Those who forget their containers can borrow some from the shop for a deposit, which is returned when the containers come back washed. There are also cotton bags and other reusable totes for sale.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

The bulk olive oil is from Montreal company Olive Pressée. The boxes have Tetra Paks of oil inside, which are returned to the company when empty and refilled.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

The bread is a mix of artisanal sourdoughs from Prairie Boy and Portuguese loaves from Ossington’s Venezia. “We wanted our products to reflect the neighbourhood,” says Genttner.

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Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

There’s also a hot table with a mix of Portuguese favourites and other hearty fare such as vegan chili. Here are some lightly battered whole sardines.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

And some ribs.

 

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Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

Oven-roasted red snapper, served with potatoes and onions in a red pepper sauce.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

Pan-fried pork scaloppini with peppers and onions.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

All of the meat at the butcher counter is from Ontario. The pork is from Perth Pork, the beef is from Rowe Farms.

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Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

Bulk milk is sold by the litre. Right now there are two dairy milks on offer, with house-made nut milk coming soon.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

In the freezer, there’s bulk frozen edamame, berries, broths, soups, and fish.

 

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Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

Salt cod comes in whole fish or in portions.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

They sell loose brown and white eggs. Those who prefer to buy by the dozen can also choose from a bunch of different organic and free-range options.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

The veg options change depending on what’s available at the terminal. Martins goes daily and buys only what’s not overly packaged.

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Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

There’s bulk tea from Toronto’s Genuine Tea and coffee from Chocosol.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

There’s also bulk pasta, spices, fancy salts, flours and dry goods on offer. Most is self-serve, but some is pre-portioned into mason jars.

 

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Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

The pre-packaged house-made salads may look like they’re in plastic containers, but those are GreenShift compostable plant-based containers. The single-use cutlery is GreenShift, too.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

They also sell alternatives to alternatives to plastic wrap such as Abeego and Earthology.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

There’s bulk soap, conditioner, laundry detergent, body wash and more. These are all sourced from PureBio, a Quebec company.

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Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

Some non-plastic toothbrush options.

 

Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

Instead of tossing the old nonperishable groceries from M and M Fruit N Grocery, customers can buy these items at a discount, and the proceeds will be donated to local charities.

 

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Inside Unboxed Market, Toronto's new waste-free grocery store

1263 Dundas St. W., 416-533-9017, unboxedmarket.com

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