Tag Archives: shopping

Nada – Early Sneak Peek Review

Nada Grocery Soft Launch
Vancouver’s zero waste grocery store, Nada, officially opens on Wednesday June 20. As an early supporter and crowd-funder, I got to do some shopping and help test out their systems at a soft launch yesterday.

The store is roomy with a clean, modern aesthetic. It speaks a lot to the philosophy of the company that they were conscious during construction to minimize their footprint, which you can read all about in their blog series Building A Low-Impact Grocery Store.

I’m really impressed and can’t wait to do more shopping at Nada.

How does it work?

Nada is a packaging-free grocery store. You bring your own containers and pay for everything by weight. When you enter the store, you go to a self-serve weigh station to tag your jars and containers. It’s really simple. They have these fancy NFC stickers (dishwasher safe) that you stick to the bottom of your containers and it remembers the empty weight of the container. You then wander around the store, filling your containers with food, and pay at the front. When you pay, they scan the NFC stickers, weigh your stuff, and automatically subtract the weight of the empty container so you only pay for what you bought. The bins all have numbers on them, but you don’t have to write them down. They figure that out on checkout. Read more here.


Seconds after paying for your order, you’ll get an email with the receipt. A lot of stores do this now, which I appreciate. But I was really amused to read the product descriptions that Nada has included in theirs, like: “Hummus is where the heart is, but these versatile beans are good for a falafel lot more” and “Don’t like legumes? You’ve now bean blacklisted.”

Nada Receipt

I recommend bringing a bunch of wide mouthed jars (Adams peanut butter and Vega protein powder are my favourites) plus some bags (cloth or plastic) to do your shopping with. The jars can be tagged with NFC stickers the first time you buy something and then reused on future shopping trips. With the bags you can weigh them if you want, but the weight is often so negligible it doesn’t make a difference.


What do they carry?

They didn’t have everything setup on Saturday, but they already had a good selection of nuts, beans, grains, dried fruit, baking supplies, loose-leaf teas, and granola available. Brianne showed me a stack of labels 6 inches thick of products that still need to be put out, so expect a lot more. They also had liquid containers with oils and vinegars, plus liquid soaps. The fridges will have produce and the freezers will have frozen fruit, perogies, and other frozen products they can source without packaging.

Loose Leaf Teas

It’s worth noting that although there are a lot of gluten-free products in the store, nothing is labelled as such because they can’t guarantee a customer hasn’t contaminated it, even though every bin has its own scoop.

This sounds like the Soap Dispensary

Nada is a lot like the Soap Dispensary, one of my favourite shops on Main Street. While the Soap Dispensary focuses on cleaning and beauty products, but also has food in their recently expanded store, Nada will focus on food with some cleaning products. The other big difference is the Soap Dispensary does all the filling for you where Nada is self-serve. Hopefully this will eliminate the long waits that seem to plague the Soap Dispensary every time I visit. There also seems to be a some slight difference in philosophy between the two stores. Both stores do a great job reducing waste by helping consumers refill containers, but it seems like Nada is taking a harder line against plastic with nothing plastic for sale in the store.

Hours and Location

Nada is located on Broadway at Fraser Street, right next to a B-line stop. There aren’t any bike racks in front of the store, but there are two big racks just around the corner on Fraser Street.

Starting on Wednesday June 20, they’ll be open 7-days a week from 10am – 7pm.

Happy zero-waste shopping everyone.

The Soap Dispensary

Vancouver's Soap Dispensary
A few months ago I didn’t know it existed and now it feels like I’m there every few weeks. We used to buy all of our soaps at the grocery store, but as the bottles have emptied I’ve been refilling them at the Soap Dispensary. It’s an amazing store.

Dish soap, laundry soap, shampoo, conditioner, shea butter, coconut oil, Dr. Bronner’s – just a sampling of the products I’ve started refilling from the Soap Dispensary. No more plastic waste and it’s cheaper. Plus they have unscented shampoo and conditioner. You can add essential oils if you want, but we prefer the unscented versions. Check out there extensive list of products.

My Dad Is a Superhero

New FurnitureThe silence on the lj has has been deafening, but I have been keeping busy. A few weeks ago we had Boardgames and Booze Night on Beach. It was a resounding success, and we played Blokus, Carcassonne, Mafia, Taboo, and Apples 2 Apples from 7 pm until 4 in the morning. It helped restore my faith in my ability to host a good party, after the last disaster.

The 2nd car-free festival on Commercial Drive was also 2 weeks ago. It was another success although the weather was drizzly.

Ultimate is winding down. I missed parts of the last 2 games because of a sore ankle which I rolled a few weeks ago, and I’m missing our last game because of dental surgery on Monday. But there’s the end of season tournament coming up and I’ll probably spare in the Fall league.

I bought a shiny new futon. It’s pretty sweet and infinitely more comfortable than the free one we found in the basement last year, which we finally got rid of. The other piece of new furniture in our living room is an amazing book case that my dad made for me for my birthday.

Classics - Slo-Pitch ChampionsThe long weekend was a small family reunion, with my parents and Kelsey all in town. My dad was here for the 55+ slo-pitch nationals, which his team won and he was named MVP (what a super star). It was great seeing my parents and Kelsey again. It was a great visit. We were able to watch some great baseball, eat at some great restaurants, assemble a bookcase, watch the grand finale of the fireforks festival, see the Pride Parade, play bocce ball, and spend an afternoon hiking and relaxing at Lynn Canyon.

In case you missed it, Vancouver is the best city in Canada. Even if there’s a municipal strike going on. I really haven’t noticed. Most garbage isn’t being picked up, but our apartment has private pickup, so we’re not affected. I am trying to get a worm composting bin anyway, so we can cut down on our garbage output. I feel horrible whenever I throw out vegetable scraps.

I just finished reading Soon I will be Invincible by Austin Grossman. Wired gave it 9/10 and I have to agree. It was a great read. Super heroes and bad guys with personal problems. Reminded me a lot of Douglas Coupland’s writing. Now I’m finishing off the last Harry Potter book.

Don’t Drink the Water

There’s blood in the water. Or at least diarrhea causing bacteria.

Vancouver was hammered over the past few days with a “winter storm”. When I think of winter storms, I picture blowing snow, white-outs, and icy roads. Not 100 km/h winds, torrential rain, and mudslides. But this is the west coast and it doesn’t actually snow here. Well it does, just not in Vancouver.

The good news is that it was cold enough in the mountains that all that rain we got in the city fell as snow on the ski hills. Cypress (which I bought a pass for) opened today with snow over a metre deep. They’re not open for night time skiing yet, but hopefully soon. So, this weekend I’m going snowboard shopping.


On Saturday I bought my first pair of $100 jeans. No more Zeller’s specials for me. These are styling jeans from Mavi. They’re nice, and more importantly they fit well. I can’t remember the last time I had a pair of pants that were the right length and width. Mom, take note: 30 waste, 34 length.

I was pretty much forced into buying a new pair of jeans. My old pair had a giant whole in the crotch, not that it stopped me from frequently wearing them. I just figured it was a good sign to invest in a new pair, and the hole made me vulnerable to unpleasant probing.

In other earthshaking news, I was awoken at 4:30 this morning by what I thought was an earthquake. In reality it was just severe wind gusting at over 50 km/h coming off Georgian Bay and rattling our windows. The wind was actually strong enough to open the sliding window in the living room, so I had to bungy-cord it shut. For a while I thought our building was actually swaying in the wind, but it was just the grogginess wearing off.

It definitely reminded me of the recent discussions I’ve had with people at work about earthquakes. It’s weird living in an area that could experience a quake, even if a minor one. Maybe I’ll go through the earthquake preparedness check list and see what I should buy.

Car Ownership

Big Muscles, Little CarI’m really happy that I live in a city where it’s possible to get around without a car. Public transit is decent (at least in downtown – trying to get to Ikea in Richmond last weekend was a nightmare. Richmond is such a hole, but I digress), biking is possible year round and there are lots of bike lanes and trails around the city, and the downtown is dense enough that I can walk to almost everything I need on a regular basis.

That being said, there are times when having a car comes in handy. I’ve been keeping an eye on Craigslist lately, looking for a good used kitchen table and maybe a futon. But what would I do if I found one? I might try, but I don’t think I could use my bike to move it.

So, I bought a car. Well, not exactly. In reality, I bought part ownership in 140+ cars, trucks, and vans. I am now one of 2500 members in Vancouver’s car co-op. I have access to 7 hybrids, 3 mini-coopers, 5 VW Beatles, 27 minivans, and 10 trucks scattered throughout the Lower Mainland. That includes 12 cars within a few blocks walk of my house and one in my building’s parking lot. I couldn’t find any Smart cars in the fleet. Maybe they’ll add some soon.

I’m really excited about this. They have a slick web interface for booking cars. I already reserved the car in my parking lot of next Saturday to chauffeur my parents around when they’re here, and a Toyota Prius for Sunday to drive them back to the airport. I still plan on biking everywhere, but now I have the flexibility of having access to a vehicle when I need it.

SunsetPink Sky at NightI strongly recommend everyone look into this. Although car sharing is bigger in Europe, there are car sharing programs across North America – in Toronto, Montreal, Waterloo, Seattle, and New York.