Go green: Sustainable shopping in Kingston

By Emily Coppella

Looking for some ways to make your shopping sprees more eco-friendly? Read on for a list of awesome Kingston businesses dedicated to environmental sustainability.


Why refill? Many products are made with single-use plastics that are detrimental to the environment. In fact, a large percentage of plastic products are not fully recycled. Bulk refillery shopping avoids single-use plastics entirely; it can also be less expensive than traditional shopping. Customers bring their own empty containers to refilleries where they are weighed before and after being filled with new product. The in-store refill process may differ across refilleries, so be sure to check each store’s website for more information.

Harlowe Green

90 Brock St.
Monday to Saturday 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 11 am – 5 pm

Another locally owned refillery was started during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 as a local option for refillery enthusiasts. Some of Harlowe Green’s commitments include having 87% female-owned sources, ensuring 95% of their refillery goods are made in Canada, and committing to 40% of their packaging being sourced from Indigenous-owned companies. Harlowe Green donates 1% of every sale to 1% For the Planet (a global network of businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals committing to tackling the environmental crisis). They offer everything from cleaning products and home goods to beauty products and more. While you can refill in-store, you can also order refill goods online for delivery. They are packaged in a mason jar for liquid goods, a paper bag for dry goods, or a dispenser of your choice. You can check out a list of their refillery items.

The Harlowe Green team also volunteer for environmental causes, and they have several partnerships with community groups such as Sustainable Kingston and the Kingston chapter of Earthub, a circular waste diversion system.

Harlowe Green also has their own blog, Zero Waste Adventures, which touches on eco-conscious topics such as plastic-free shower ideas, minimalism and motherhood, and low-waste cleaning routines.

The Keep Refillery – Kingston

206 Princess St.
Monday to Saturday 11 am – 6 pm
Sunday 11 am – 5 pm

The Keep Refillery opened its Princess Street location in December 2021. Dedicated to being ethical, sustainable, and truly as low-waste as possible, the team has stores in Creemore and Meaford as well. They ensure that their stock suppliers are responsible for their waste. For example, when they empty a plastic jug of product, they expect the supplier to also refill it for them. While The Keep Refillery has a range of home goods, cleaning supplies, and beauty products, they also sell some of their own products such as The Refillery Head Ease Roller, an infusion crafted to soothe and relax with several essential oils such as peppermint, rosemary, and frankincense. View their list of refillery items. We love their eucalyptus steam shower cubes, bamboo bristle brushes, and silicone straws.

General store


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Verde (@verdealternatives)

Verde Alternatives

123 Princess St
Monday to Saturday 10 am – 5 pm
Closed on Sunday

Verde is an environmentally friendly general store that sells a wide array of products. Owned by a mother-daughter duo, Laurie and Sarah, the business is dedicated to offering items that meet fair-trade standards and cause the least amount of environmental and social harm possible. The products are carefully chosen and are often bought from local or regional distributors. From greeting cards and games to clothing and home goods, Verde Alternatives makes shopping for any occasion a little greener.

You can also visit Verde Alternative’s website to browse by brand, room, season, or holiday – and place an online order. Free local delivery is offered within 40 kilometres of Kingston.


Tara Natural Foods

81 Princess St
Monday to Saturday 9 am – 6 pm

Tara Natural Foods prides itself on selling nutritious, whole foods. Their array of spices and herbs available in bulk allows you to stock your kitchen shelves without the extra plastic and paper packaging that comes with traditional groceries.

Beyond groceries and fresh produce, Tara Natural Foods also sells health and beauty items, vitamins and supplements, and household products. They keep the Kingston community in mind as many of their products are sourced from local businesses and farms, and they offer a wholesale service that supplies restaurants in the Kingston area.

Take the time to notice the best of historic Kingston while shopping here – the building is 150 years old and includes brick-and-mortar archways and a restored authentic pressed tin ceiling.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by MissBāo (@missbaokingston)

Miss Bao Restaurant + Cocktail Bar

286 Princess St
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 6 – 11 pm
Sunday 5 – 10 pm

Miss Bao Restaurant + Cocktail Bar is leading the sustainable dining revolution in Kingston! This zero-waste restaurant is dedicated to the “7 Rs” of sustainability: rethink, refuse, reduce, repurpose, reuse, recycle, and rot. Their passion for reducing waste affects every aspect of their sourcing, preparing, and serving. You’ll enjoy a seasonal menu consisting of share plates and classical dim sum dishes made with local ingredients. Each cocktail is a unique experience inspired by traditional Asian liquors. Plant-based foodies and eco-conscious diners will also be happy to know that 50% of their menu is vegan and vegetarian.

Miss Bao has ensured that everything down to their tableware, lighting, and décor is sustainable. They reuse food items such as trims and peels for dishes and drinks. They compost on-site and use that very compost to grow microgreens for serving. If you visit, make sure to peek at their in-house garden system. Cheers!

The Tea Room

45 Union St (Beamish Munro Hall)
Monday to Friday 8 am – 5 pm

Enjoy a lemon ginger tea or a chicken pesto sandwich at North America’s very first zero-consumer waste, carbon-neutral café. The Tea Room is a Green Certified, environmentally sustainable café located on Queen’s University campus. The café has been serving handcrafted drinks and yummy sandwiches and snacks since 2006. Every product (and its packaging) is sourced from local vendors and is 100% compostable.

All carbon dioxide emissions associated with the café’s operations (heating, water use, and even the kilometres travelled by their vendors to deliver products to the site) are offset by planting trees throughout the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. All the energy powering The Tea Room is renewable too.

Remember to bring a travel mug and you’ll save 15% on your drink purchase.

Sporting goods


262 Princess St
Monday to Saturday 9:30 am – 6 pm
Sunday 11 am – 5 pm

With over 25 years in business, Trailhead is a staple for those looking to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. They sell products that encourage sustainable transportation such as cycling and hiking equipment, as well as active-lifestyle goods that help people connect with the natural world – an important way to understand our impact on the earth.

This locally owned outdoors shop makes numerous environmentally sound and creative business decisions beyond simply sourcing sustainable products from suppliers. For example, in 2005 they committed to having only one bag of trash per week sent out to the curb – a pledge they have been able to achieve ever since. They have an in-house policy that pays staff to write letters on behalf of the environment to suppliers and politicians. They weigh their recyclables each week to track their waste. They have eight badges from ISEAL (International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling), the global membership organization for credible sustainability standards.

Perhaps what’s most notable about their environmental efforts is the creation of their Eco-Grant in 2006. Groups and individuals are invited to apply for help funding the applicant’s environmental initiative. Trailhead has helped build community gardens, fund school field trips to Gould Lake, and spread awareness about endangered turtles. For more information on their environmentally friendly initiatives, you can check out their eco timeline.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pure Balanxed (@purebalanxed)

Pure Balanxed


Ready to wrap yourself in some super soft, sustainable clothing? Pure Balanxed is an everyday basics clothing line designed in Bath and made in Toronto (by 100% woman-owned manufacturers). This sustainable, female-owned business prides itself on its sustainable practices. Their clothing is made from fabrics chosen for their sustainability, durability, and coziness. Not only is each package shipped in compostable mailers, but every time Pure Balanxed re-orders mailers and tissue paper, they plant a tree in Ontario.

Baby and kids’ clothes

Pure Colour Baby

837 Norwest Rd.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday 10 am – 4 pm
Thursday and Friday 10 am – 5 pm

Frustrated by baby clothes that don’t fit right, wear out quickly, or aren’t eco-conscious? Check out Pure Colour Baby, a boutique that sells baby clothes designed with their “grow-with-me” philosophy. Each garment is designed to last through multiple sizes. Every piece uses high-quality materials and certified organic fabrics manufactured with non-toxic inks and dyes. The team works with local artists to create unique designs, and each piece is designed and sewn in the Kingston studio. Support a brand whose key principle is comfort and sustainability.

Go Green Baby

293 Division St.
Monday to Saturday 10 am – 4 pm

Looking for your one stop shop for an eco-friendly family? Go Green Baby offers a variety of natural, sustainable products for pregnancy, babyhood, and beyond! Every product is well-researched and carefully chosen based on how eco-conscious it is. They choose products with materials that are organic and non-toxic whenever possible and seek to support underrepresented communities such as LGBTQ2S+, disabled, BIPOC, and women makers. They even have their own refillery with home and personal care items too. From non-toxic baby toys to organic toothpaste to comfy maternity wear–this may make for a sustainable shopping spree.

Pet goods

Bark’n up the Green Tree


Paula Sara, the owner of Bark’n up the Green Tree, puts the planet first, dogs second, and family always. Paula designed her business model with sustainability in mind, creating doggy products made from natural materials and ingredients. Paula is a passionate pet-owner with a certification in raw dog food nutrition. She began the business as an alternative to not-so-healthy corporate pet food products. She has since expanded to include dog apparel made with textiles that would usually go to waste, such as collars and leashes made from car seatbelt straps. Visit the website to find some more sustainable treats, like a lemon-mint dog shampoo bar or a scarf for your furry fashionista made from recycled vintage fabrics.

Paterson Memorial Garden

While consuming less is a sure way to help the environment, we hope that when you do need to make a purchase you keep some of these local, eco-conscious businesses in mind. Happy sustainable shopping!

We also recommend keeping up with Sustainable Kingston (@sustainablekingston), a not-for-profit organization aimed at increasing the livability, resiliency, and sustainability of the Kingston community.