Single-use plastics are among the few of us having a good 2020. Fears over the spread of COVID-19 led to many businesses putting an immediate halt to anything reusable, which meant the only thing I could carry into stores was a boatload of anxiety over this scary virus. The Green Jar at St. Clair West took an especially big blow.

"We were just starting to create momentum in our neighbourhood and make that face-to-face connection, and then we had to close our doors," says Tannis Bundi who owns and operates the Green Jar, an eco-friendly, package-free refillery in Midtown, with her twin sister Mara. "Now more than ever we have an important role where we need to share that single-use plastics are not safer than refillable containers, because you can actually wash and sanitize reusable items."

While the sisters aren't the first business owners to move away from plastic – plenty of other grocery stores in Toronto are adopting the low-packaging, ethics-first philosophy – they are one of the few to make reducing single-use plastics their primary focus. From food pouches and stainless steel straws to their refillery, which is stocked with a wide range of household items to make package-free purchasing simple, The Green Jar stays true to its name.

We find out why Tannis and Mara set about opening the zero-waste shop and what customers can expect when they step inside.

The Green Jar: What's the deal

When the Bundi sisters opened the Green Jar last December, they thought their biggest fight was going to be against packaging, not a never-seen-before global pandemic.

"We were really frustrated at the amount of single-use plastic and packaging that was coming home with us. We grew up with this sustainable, minimalist, self-sufficient lifestyle thanks to our mother and grandmother, who influenced us into making everything from toothpaste to butter. We needed a change and wanted to make an impact, so we decided to follow our dreams and help continue that movement to avoid single-use plastics and waste," says Tannis.

After months of doing home deliveries in their own cars and offering contactless pickup from the store, Tannis and Mara can once again connect with their community IRL by providing a more accessible approach to sustainable living.

"Our main goal is that the items we send our customers home with are either recyclable or compostable, or you can repurpose them," explains Mara.

The Green Jar: What to buy

Show us the honey

Mara and Tannis's godfather was a beekeeper, so having honey in the store was important – especially as bees are so affected by climate change. With help from Alvéole, an urban beekeeping company that installs rooftop beehives, The Green Jar sells honey that's sourced from Cabbagetown to High Park.

Ima-gin that

These kits can turn a boring bottle of vodka into your own botanical-forward gin. Simply add the secret blend of spices, herbs and aromatics from these refillable packs to any old bottle of vodka that you have kicking around the house and voilà! You're essentially a (very) small-batch distiller.

The Green Jar: What else

Kits that do bits

If you're feeling a little overwhelmed with the transition to a low-waste or plastic-free life, get in line. The task can feel daunting, but the Green Jar makes it easy with kits as cute as the shelves they sit on, from the kitchen kit with compostable dish brushes to the personal care and shave kits.

1061 St Clair Ave. W.;