I first reached out to Dayna Stein, founder of bare market, through Instagram in early 2019. Knowing I would soon be purchasing all the final packaging elements for our DIY kits, I wanted her opinion on where my business was going- which was a far cry from the "zero waste" solution I had envisioned it as being. I had set out to empower people to make their own products at home, only to realize our kits would potentially require more packaging than the actual product itself. And, as the founder of Toronto's very first all in one stop for package-free goods with monthly pop-ups at Patagonia, I knew Dayna would be a great resource to help me position my business in terms of "zero waste". In true Dayna style, she promptly and unapologetically reminded me that not even bare market is positioned as 100% zero waste. With her background in consulting, Dayna's approach to sustainability is a sober one, and it is her realistic, science-based approach that has given bare market an unparalleled grassroots following here in Toronto.
A few months into MTU and I now know my business– dedicated to empowering you to make your own consumable products through professionally formulated recipes– is only one part of a more nuanced solution to zero-waste beauty. Even though our kits require packaging, our focus is on promoting DIY Skincare, by making the science behind it more transparent, accessible and fun! But when it comes to transitioning to zero waste or package-free beauty products, I realized that in order to complete our mission, partnerships with other local businesses will be needed in order to bring you great DIY recipes, but also bulk, package-free ingredients at accessible prices!
So, now that our obsession for Dayna and bare market is pretty obvious, we took the time to ask her 5 burning questions we had about green beauty, what her thoughts on natural skincare were, details about her own routine, and what surprising bulk ingredients she has stocked at Bare Market!
Q1: Hey Dayna! So, as founder of bare market, our favourite Toronto-based package free shop, you probably have some feelings about "green" and "natural" skincare products? Do you use any green/ natural skincare and if so, spill the beans cause your skin is ama-ZING!
"As one of the laziest people I know, face care is not generally on the morning or evening list of to-do's. The one thing I do daily is lather on some face cream to keep my skin hydrated. When I'm feeling fancy I'll use one of the many bulk cleansers we carry."
"I particularly like the facial cleansing grains from a sustainability point of view for a few reasons: 1) we are supporting the local economy! Green and Frugal, based in south Scarborough lovingly makes a number of our bulk products including our facial cleansing grains, 2) like the vast majority of our bulk products, we source this cleanser in packaging that we return to our supplier to be clean, sanitized and refilled, and 3) this cleanser is in powder form meaning no extra water weight (or GHGs) are expended from distributing this product.""And - yes. I have many feelings about the proliferation of products marketed as "green" and "natural". We spoke about this in depth at the Green Beauty Night. I highly recommend listening to the recap of the evening to understand why bare market doesn't use the term "natural" to describe our products."
Q2: Seeing as the cosmetics industry- natural or not- contributes so much waste to landfill every year, many people come to bare market for DIY ingredients or package free makeup. How do you choose what to stock at Bare Market?
"First, we research and find high quality brands who are value-aligned with Bare Market and we prioritize those who are Canadian (or better yet, GTA based!) and those with an environmental or social mission. Then, all of our body care, home care and DIY ingredients are reviewed and approved by our third-party cosmetic chemist, Jen Novakovich of The Eco Well. Jen has a sustainability slant to the work she does and she tells us the environmental, health and economic impacts (if any!) of every ingredient in the products we wish to source. Finally, we have in-depth conversations with our suppliers about how to feasibly and safely get their products in bulk formats all the while strategizing around how to get the packaging as low-waste as possible."
"We always opt first for working with suppliers that are willing to take back their packaging to refill it. When that's not possible, we get the largest possible quantities to reduce the amount of packaging per "g" or "ml" of product and then we find alternative uses for the packaging after the product within is sold."
"We have yet to send any packaging that we cannot get refilled to landfill or to through the recycling system!"
Q3: If you personally can't source something that is 100% zero-waste or package-free, what are some important criteria a product has to meet for you to personally purchase it?
"DIY, 100%! If you have the time to dedicate to making your own products (and perhaps you don't!) and if you have the ability to purchase in bulk so you only get the quantity you need, then DIY can be significantly cheaper too!"
"Then the question is– well, where do I find DIY ingredients sans packaging? Lucky for you, bare market's got you covered if you live in and around the GTA and we hope to get these products on our online store soon too. If you're in Vancouver (my undergrad stomping ground) then I highly recommend The Soap Dispensary for bulk DIY ingredients! "
"Otherwise, I look for products that are made locally. This also increases the probability of having them available in refill if I can take the time to chat with the maker. I do my best to prioritize small producers (like your neighbourhood mom-preneur!) and social enterprises that are working to serve and ladder marginalized communities into good and equitable work."
"Listen, I'm not 100% waste-free and neither is bare market, but we do our very best. Honestly, no one and no business that touts zero-waste is being completely transparent. We don't expect every purchasing decision a person or business makes to be 100% #zerowaste, because it's not feasible nor possible in our current landscape.
"Importantly, it's also not accessible to everyone– physically, financially, or just in terms of the amount of time a person has to dedicate to living this way."
"Finally, I've learned in the last few years that ingredient lists that are shorter or pronounceable do not mean they are safer nor more sustainable products. I look to reputable science-based sources, such as The Eco Well Blog to work through what is and is not safe to use."
Q4: What are some of the most popular DIY ingredients you've been surprised people want you to stock? Asking for a friend :)
"Rosehip Oil. People are just obsessed. And it's honestly quite expensive. We offer it cheaper than anywhere else because we are able to pass on our bulk savings, but still– it's an investment. Other popular DIY ingredients? Shea Butter, Bentonite Clay and a variety of Essential Oils, but I'm not exactly surprised by those. "
Q5: If someone isn't aiming to live completely zero waste and package free, what are some easy and accessible things they can do to curb their environmental impact regardless?
"Turn off the lights! Buy secondhand, support your local farmers' markets if you can, ensure your home is well insulated, take short showers, buy in bulk so you purchase only what you need, store your food properly to extend it's shelf life, ignore Best Before dates and use your senses to determine if a food product has gone off, use your organics bin, separate your garbage and recycling properly, empty your junk mail and any emails you no longer need (yup, energy is wasted from that too!). Honestly the list is endless."
"The time to act is now."