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.
There’s a small cafe at the front with beans by Delta, a sustainably run Portuguese roaster.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And some ribs.
Oven-roasted red snapper, served with potatoes and onions in a red pepper sauce.
Pan-fried pork scaloppini with peppers and onions.
All of the meat at the butcher counter is from Ontario. The pork is from Perth Pork, the beef is from Rowe Farms.
Bulk milk is sold by the litre. Right now there are two dairy milks on offer, with house-made nut milk coming soon.
In the freezer, there’s bulk frozen edamame, berries, broths, soups, and fish.
Salt cod comes in whole fish or in portions.
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.
The veg options change depending on what’s available at the terminal. Martins goes daily and buys only what’s not overly packaged.
There’s bulk tea from Toronto’s Genuine Tea and coffee from Chocosol.
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.
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.
They also sell alternatives to alternatives to plastic wrap such as Abeego and Earthology.
There’s bulk soap, conditioner, laundry detergent, body wash and more. These are all sourced from PureBio, a Quebec company.
Some non-plastic toothbrush options.
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.
1263 Dundas St. W., 416-533-9017, unboxedmarket.com