Zero Waste Vancouver

Yesterday was our day on the town– on Saturday we kept things low-key, deciding not to spend any money. (That made dinner a little difficult as I thought I’d get to go to the store!)

Here’s a free library in the neighborhood where my husband lives:

I actually found a decent read in there! The Value of Nothing, by Raj Patel; a hardback, and in great condition to boot. We left some comics in its place.

Sunday, though, was our big day. We were headed to the Mount Pleasant area, which apparently has morphed into an amazing neighborhood since the last time he’d been there. It was a mishmash of vintage clothing and furniture stores, pubs, record stores, hip restaurants, tiny co-op grocery stores, and the occasional high-end joint selling $30 light bulbs. Really, we were in that neighborhood for 2 reasons: 1. an indie comic book store called Lucky’s (the place was literally about the size of the hubs’ bedroom, and yet they have bands play there every now and then??), and 2. a store called the Soap Dispensary. Now let me tell you about the Soap Dispensary.

I found out about this place via blog-hopping, somehow managing to find my way to a zero waste/minimalist Vancouverite’s blog who had a link to it.


This place is the shit. They have every household and personal care product you could ever possibly need in a sustainable, non-toxic, plastic-free form. (Well, mostly plastic-free.)

I damn-near started crying when I went in there. They had everything. And only until I started poking around in all the little nooks and crannies of the shelves did I really see just how indispensable this store will be for me once I move.

I’d finally gotten a chance to show hubs the No Impact Man documentary, seeing as how his reading to-do list was miles long and it’d be futile to try and get him to read the book. The Beavans are a bit obnoxious, I will be the first to admit, but Colin at least seems to have a small grasp of class issues which is vitally important to any meaningful environmental activism. The one important thing I believe he does say in the film, though, is that individual action is important, so long as it breeds awareness and real action. The film, too, I think is good because it presents the issue in a non-threatening way. Even my grandmother of all people was interested in watching it. That alone tells me a lot. So I figured that it was at the very least compelling.

And it was. A lot of concerns have been bubbling up in the both of us for some years now, and while I discovered the movement first, showing him this film yesterday seemed to really push him over the edge. So yep, the two of us had a field day at the Soap Dispensary.

Hubs got a chance to finally try out my safety razor and fell in love even with a 3+ week old blade that I use almost every day. So of course he spent about 20 minutes looking at the shaving supplies, and came home with a fancy one and a pack of blades. He also got a few small planks of cedar for the closet, some charcoal deodorizers, a dish scrubby, and some non-toxic bug traps. (He’s the neat freak out of the two of us… and also has an extremely sharp nose.)

I, on the other hand, came home with two bottles of oil, some cotton bulk/produce bags (they’re somehow impossible to find in stores?), a hand broom, and a glass spray bottle to fill with vinegar-based all-purpose cleaner and leave for him to use while I’m gone.

I left a simple recipe on there for him so he could refill it when it’s empty. I also made up a bottle of bleach alternative for him too, and put it in a glass milk bottle. When it’s time for me to leave in another 2 weeks, the oil will go in the freezer most likely, and the bags and broom will come back to California with me to be used the hell out of.

They had so much more than that, though, as the pictures show ( which are courtesy of their site and facebook; most of them don’t do the store any justice as they have much, much more now than they did when most of them were taken). Brooms and brushes of all sorts, mason jars and knitted cozies, soap nuts by the pound, powdered clays and charcoal, diatomaceous earth, salts and sodas, tooth powder in a number of different flavors, and even small sets of legos made from wood. I can’t wait to go back.

Here’s their website.

We came across a few other stores of note as we walked too. Here’s one I just about got lost in:

This joint, Urban Source, was basically set up like a teeny tiny warehouse of stuff. Packed to the hilt with random bits and bobs like fabric scraps, tiny test tubes, old film and slides, boxes, string, wood veneer, feathers, and a million other things. What impresses me most about this store is that so much of it would otherwise be considered junk and end up in the trash. But here it is, to be turned into scrapbooks, sculptures, and whatever else you might envision for it.

From their site:

We source out diverse and unusual manufacturing discards that are ideal for all kinds of creative projects. To eliminate over-packaging and handling, most materials are stocked in large barrels and sold in bulk.

Afterward, we headed to our final destination, Queen Elizabeth Park. We took a rest on some shaded grass, let the sweat dry (it was hot, and we did about 30 blocks of walking), and headed into the park to look around and take in the views.

All in all, a great day. Now to figure out where to get my growler filled around here…


One thought on “Zero Waste Vancouver

  1. I wish we had stuff like that around this area, it’s perfect! The whole cleaning and personal care section still gives me nightmares and I don’t know what to do about it!


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