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Unboxed Market is an ecofriendly grocery store in Toronto's Little Portugal.

JeremyChanPhotography.com

When they decided to open a grocery store, Michelle Genttner and Luis Martins knew they didn’t want to go the standard supermarket route. “We both grew up in agricultural communities," Genttner says. “We grew up around having fresh produce and exactly what you needed and not in excess. We wanted to bring that back to the importance and values of what we should have in our community today.” In February, the couple launched Unboxed Market in Toronto’s Little Portugal neighbourhood. Its location previously housed a grocery store that was owned and operated by the same family for nearly 50 years. but today it’s the city’s first zero-waste grocer.

To shop at Unboxed, customers weigh reusable containers brought from home (glass jars and biodegradable bags are also available for purchase on site) before filling them with a range of locally sourced dry goods such as tea, cereal and pasta. Unlike the typical bulk shopping experience, Unboxed Market also offers fresh produce, a butcher counter stocking products from Ontario and a cheese selection, as well as milk, nut butter, personal care and cleaning products on tap. Their hot and cold tables serve ready-to-eat meals prepared daily in the full industrial kitchen downstairs and using ingredients from their own stock. Any packaged goods, such as yogurt or mustard, come in jars that can easily be reused, recycled or composted.

Unboxed Market’s ecofriendly approach has been met with a positive reaction, but isn’t without its challenges. Genttner says she’s continuously hunting for suppliers of specific food types – soba noodles for example – that meet their zero-waste parameters. “I think it’s forever going to be a work in progress.”

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

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