A zero waste market

Because of Covid-19, market vendors aren’t selling food to be consumed on site and so our reusable dishware program is on pause. We look forward to restarting the program soon. In the meantime, customers are welcome to bring their own clean containers and tote bags for purchases. 

Building a sustainable environment for shoppers and vendors.

In 2018, with the help of an enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and dedicated volunteer, we began a reusable dishware program.

With this zero waste program, we aim to:

  • Reduce waste: by keeping recyclable materials and discarded food scraps out of landfills
  • Avert waste: by offering reusable items such as plates and cutlery
  • ‘Close the loop’: by promoting the use of post-consumer recycled products
  • Educate: by encouraging shoppers and market sellers to reduce, reuse, and recycle both at the market and beyond


One way we work to meet our goals is to offer reusable plates, bowls, cutlery, cups and mugs for food and beverages consumed at the market. We have a collection of these items that we wash and sanitize for reuse. Week after week. The zero waste station has had a big impact already. After 15 markets in 2018, our dishware was used over 1900 times, preventing that many single-use items from going into the landfill. That’s 880 pieces of cutlery, 508 plates, 246 bowls, and 294 cups! Want to get involved? Learn about our Zero Waste Ambassador opportunities here!


We have asked vendors to overall use less packaging and to provide compostable or biodegradable packaging when they can. Over the next few years our rules will tighten around packaging to ensure further reduction in waste.

REPAIR, REHOME and more…

Withrow Market is proudly committed to being environmentally friendly in these other meaningful ways:

  • Reusable coffee mugs are available at our coffee table (mugs were used over 1000 times in 2018)
  • Host clothing and jewellery repairathons (get your jeans mended by professionals for free!)
  • Work with the Toronto Tool Library to bring clothing and toy swaps to the community
  • Feature zero waste vendors at our special artisan market
  • “Need a bag. Take a bag. Leave a bag.” program to reduce the use of plastic bags
  • Regular cookbook swaps run by market volunteers
  • Hold clothing drives, benefiting newcomers to Canada
  • Offer to take dead batteries and dead markers for proper recycling

We welcome your thoughts on this program.



NOW Toronto: Inside Toronto’s plastic problem
Park People: Zero Waste Picnic: An inspired TD Park People Grant event 
The Toronto Observer: Toronto Clothing Repairathon brings new life to damaged clothes 
The Toronto Observer: How one reusable container gave birth to a reusables project
Toronto Enviromental Alliance: 6 things Toronto can do to ditch single-use plastics and move towards a waste-free future
snapd Beaches: Zero Waste Picnic


Dishes washed in 2019

(so that we don't use disposables)

Knives, forks, spoons

Plates, bowls

Cups, mugs


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