How Torontonians can shop more consciously and locally

By Jessica Fonseca

In the very corporate driven world where most of the market is cornered by big box stores, there’s still a sliver of hope for Toronto-based companies to make their mark.

Last April, CBC reported that a Swiss-based website called StartupBlink collected data on the best places on the planet for starting a new business. Toronto’s startup ecosystem ranked 11th best in the world.

Three other Canadian cities made the top 100 list: Vancouver in 19th place, Montreal in 34th and Victoria in 95th. Canada overall as a country ranked third after the United States and the United Kingdom.

These statistics seemed surprising considering you can’t walk one block in Toronto without seeing a Tim Hortons or Starbucks on every corner.

So how could you as a Torontonian support fellow locals?

Well for starters, don’t go running to Yonge street for all of your shopping needs. There are plenty of niche stores and shops to catch your eye all over the city in unique spots you’ve probably never seen before or just passed by.

Did you know the Distillery District is more than just a Christmas village? This popular area is filled with 40 one-of-a-kind boutiques that cater to your fashion needs, food cravings or your knick-knack collection on your bedroom shelf.  

Photo courtesy distilleryto on Instagram

Another great way to support your neighbours is to find out more about who they are and how their businesses can be just what you’re looking for. This can be through doing a quick search on social media or Google.

If all that searching is too much work for you then check out a website called Seek Minimal that does it for you. They advocate for sustainable living and support many Toronto entrepreneurs who are in the clothing, beauty, and food industries to get their products and messages across.

On their website you can find all kinds of information on the people you may be buying from and where you can purchase their products.

“Seek Minimal always supports Canadian brands, especially those from Toronto. We’ve found incredible brands apart of the sustainable community and we hope Seek Minimal can bring them all together,” said Joss Bacalla,  founder of Seek Minimal.

Another way to shop more consciously is by going to food markets all across the city to get fresh, locally grown produce. This is a lot easier to do in the summer as there are many more options. However, some markets stay open and suffer through the winter with you.

St. Lawrence Market is the known spot for fresh food with its close proximity to Toronto’s busy city centre. An alternative worth checking out is the year-round Dufferin Grove Farmers Market which is all organic, locally sourced food. Moss Park Market Container is another great market that is very small, and by that I mean it’s the size of a shipping container.

St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. (Photo courtesy Wladyslaw/Wikimedia Commons)

St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. (Photo courtesy Wladyslaw/Wikimedia Commons)

This market may be small, but it packs a lot of fruits and vegetables for a very affordable price. Who said buying locally had to be more expensive?

No matter who you are or what you do, it’s important to support other people, especially those in your community. If you want to see your city prosper and its people to succeed, put your money where your mouth is.