May 29, 2018 • 7 min read
Vancouver – Canada’s greenest city, aiming to be the world’s greenest by 2040.
With snow-capped peaks in the horizon, ocean waves surrounding the city, and orcas splashing in the distance, this western coastal town is truly unlike anywhere else. With the entire city and surrounding areas on a common mission to do their part in reducing waste and protecting the environment, Vancouver is one of the easiest places to eat fresh, shop sustainable, and travel consciously.
The city’s recent ban on single-use plastics, taking effect June 2019, is an example of its collective commitment to sustainability. Often counted amongst the world’s top five most liveable cities, the melange of cultures and nationalities make this city rich in natural beauty, heritage and community.
Sharing some of this city’s local businesses and eateries that are leading the way in conscious consuming, keep these places bookmarked for your trip to Vancouver.
W H E R E T O S T A Y
Ranked as a “5 Green Key” Hotel by Green Key Global, the Fairmont Waterfront embraces sustainability. A rooftop garden that was planted more than two decades ago produces over twenty varieties of herbs, vegetables, and edible blossoms that are used in the hotel’s kitchen.
With an apiary housed on the third-floor terrace, the beehives here are home to over 250,000 honey bees and pollinators. The hotel allows guests to visit the hives and learn more about why honey bees are so important to our future.
With a mission to operate as a zero-waste hotel, the Fairmont Waterfront has diverted 90% of their waste away from landfills.
Address: 900 Canada Place Way
W H E R E T O E A T
Showcasing the best of Canadian cuisine, Forage only uses locally-sourced ingredients.
With fare that is so fresh, Forage works directly with local fishers, foragers and farmers. Vancouver being known for its exceptional culinary scene, Forage brings together unexpected flavours, unique ingredients, and unrivaled quality.
Taking locally-sourced ingredients a step further, Forage’s entire drinks menu is only sourced from local breweries, distilleries, and wineries. With an excellent and very friendly team behind them, Forage takes their staff on farm and foraging trips, for an all-inclusive learning experience. The team forages for elderflower and other local flora, a way to encourage and educate on the process of farm to table, making all the working parts of this restaurant sustainability-focused.
Sustainability is in every feature of this farm to table restaurant. From the sustainable kitchen design to the food, there isn’t an aspect that has been overlooked. Designed by Evoke, the walls are covered in felt to allow the acoustics to flow in the best way possible, providing a pleasant dining experience. Even the restrooms are eco-conscious, with PCW toilet paper, eco-flush, and reusable hand towels.
Forage doesn’t just cater to their patrons, but they work with a 420-acre ecological reserve – the Cheakamus Centre in Squamish – where they donate funds from their filtered water program to enhance student learning at the centre’s garden. With 6700 students each year, Forage, along with the Cheakamus Centre, have a common goal to teach students about aquatic, forest and food eco systems, with a focus on environmental stewardship.
With a chic yet inviting atmosphere, Forage is the top choice for sustainable dining in Vancouver.
Address: 1300 Robson Street
With an aim to help define Canadian cuisine, Fable sources local product, making the experience truly farm to table, with fresh deliveries daily that are prepared for that evening’s dinner service. In a relaxed and fun environment, this space is open-concept, where patrons can get a full view of the chefs at work from the bar.
With sustainability built right into the fabric of the space, the wood beams and brick walls have been reclaimed from the historic Cecil Hotel.
Accommodating for all dietary types, the team at Fable is helpful in suggesting gluten-free and vegan options. With plates that are meant to be shared, this sustainable eatery is warm and welcoming, a friendly space to eat sustainably in Vancouver.
Address: 1944 West 4th Avenue
For those with a taste for authentic Mexican fare, La Mezcaleria is a fun, casual space with trendy décor and a commitment to serving dishes that honour the different regions of Mexico.
Using organic and locally-sourced ingredients and recommended by the Vancouver Aquarium as an ocean-friendly outlet, this eatery isn’t just acclaimed for its food or handmade ice cream, but for its well-stocked bar. La Mezcaleria’s innovative bar program uses a diverse selection of high-quality and hard-to-find tequilas and mezcals, along with ingredients such as serrano pepper, blue corn, and agave- one of the largest lists in Vancouver. The bartenders, some of whom are native Mexicans, are well-versed on the details of tequila and mezcal, so a seat at the bar here is an educational and gustatory experience.
Addresses: 1622 Commercial Drive or 68 E Cordova St.
A day trip from Vancouver, Pilgrimme, the cabin nestled in the ferns of the tiny island Galiano, is well-worth the ferry ride. Ranked amongst the top restaurants in the country, Pilgrimme is pure mastery with ethically and locally-sourced ingredients that are as diverse as the ecosystem on the Island.
Having spent time in Copenhagen at Noma, Jesse McCleery changes the menu every few days, ensuring only the freshest of ingredients are used. An established kinship with the Island’s growers, fishers, and foragers allows this unique menu to honour the local plants, sea life, and land animals. Committing to be as ecological as possible, and to lower their footprint as much as possible, everything right down to the ceramics are locally made.
With an air of dining in a dear friend’s home, this wood cabin blends into its surroundings, minimally disturbing the environment around it.
Address: 2806 Montague Road, Galiano Island
W H E R E T O S H O P
A beautiful shop in Deep Cove carrying sustainable, ethical, locally-designed and handmade goods, that are made to last. Room 6 uses minimal packaging that’s recyclable, sourcing seasonal and sustainable flowers that are composted when through, recycled metals in jewelry, and a minimalist approach, this shop is a haven for all things good.
Megan, the owner has also launched a not-for-profit called The Hellebore Society, which encourages education and action to shape public policy, with proceeds from the organization going towards helping shape the world in a new and better way. She has also, with the help of her Deep Cove community, encouraged the refusal of single-use plastics, especially straws. This movement spread with such rapid fire that it was the catalyst for the entire city of Vancouver’s ban on single-use plastics!
Address: 4389 Gallant Avenue, North Vancouver
The Soap Dispensary
Vancouver’s first dedicated shop to refill and zero waste, The Soap Dispensary focuses on soaps, household cleaners, personal care products, DIY ingredients, and fine edibles. With their newly opened Kitchen Staples right next door, you can find zero waste grocery items and bulk ingredients in one stop.
With a mission to lower the city’s waste, single-use plastics are kept out of landfills, watersheds and energy-intensive recycling systems. All products in the store are biodegradable, minimal impact, and good for both humans and the earth. 50% of suppliers are locally-owned businesses, and 75% of soaps are locally-made. Educating people on shopping zero waste, The Soap Dispensary provides an easy opportunity for locals to do just that.
Address: 3718 Main Street
An organic and ethically-sourced tea brew bar, Cultivate takes tea to another level. With a soothing and earthy interior, this tiny tea shop is both a brew bar and retail store. All teas are sourced from China, the richest blends available, that are ethically and sustainably sourced. Choose from a range of teas for different needs and tastes, all packaged in recyclable kraft pouches. Ordering a brew isn’t a quick pour, but rather the slow and intentional process of traditional Chinese tea ceremony, where the tea is washed in several rinses to draw out the flavour.
Address: 3623 Main Street
W H E R E T O V I S I T
A gem within the city, this expansive green space is perfect for a nature escape. Bike, run, or stroll along the seawall, taking in the mountains in the distance and the ocean before you.
Beloved by Vancouverites and tourists alike, Stanley Park is perfect for a morning jog amidst the misty mountain air. Meander the trail and take a book with you to one of the many beaches along the way. Lounge on some driftwood “benches” and marvel at the city where the mountains meet the sea.
Address: Stanley Park
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Often advised against due to the number of tourists, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is an expansive area, with a park and tree walks surrounding it. Originally built in 1889, this footbridge spanning across a roaring river in the Coast Forest Region is 460 feet in length and has stood the test of time.
Once across the swaying bridge, the park itself is less busy with tons of giant trees, and information on sustainability and forestry on plaques throughout the park. A great place to educate oneself on the important role forests play in our lives, the mini bridges stretching between the tall trees, the aquatic life in the many little ponds, and the woodpeckers flitting around make for a relaxing and leisurely nature day.
Address: 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver
Unlike most aquariums, the Vancouver Aquarium has a strong commitment to sustainability, actively showcasing and educating visitors on the state of the ocean and how they can reduce plastic-waste. With exhibits throughout the aquarium dedicated to the reality of our plastic problem, the aquarium is using their influence to educate and encourage, rather than elude.
All the marine mammals that live in the aquarium are rescues, whose families rejected them. Without ever forcing or demanding shows and demonstrations from the sea creatures, the otters, sea lions, penguins and resident dolphin are free to play and swim as they please.
Address: 845 Avison Way
A beautiful space nestled in the village of Whistler, The Audain is well-worth the drive up to BC’s ski town. Built by Michael Audain, a large part of the museum’s collection was originally his own private one. With pieces showcasing the art of British Columbia, the works on display range from 19th and 20th century First Nations masks, paintings by Canada’s beloved Emily Carr, and renowned photo-conceptualizations of Jeff Wall and Stan Douglas.
The architecture of this impressive space is simultaneously remarkable and soothing. Built to blend in seamlessly with its surroundings while maintaining an aura of ultra-modernity, long wooden beams and floor length windows invite nature in.
Address: 4350 Blackcomb Way, Whistler
Another Whistler gem is the Scandinave Spa. This thermal, hydrotherapy retreat is set amongst the beautiful mountain range, providing a heightened sense of relaxation and rejuvenation. The baths, saunas and steam rooms are consciously designed, and operate with a low environmental footprint.
Harmonizing this spa with its natural setting, having a low impact was necessary in its construction. With vegetated green roofs, sunlight-optimized buildings, pest-resistant, regionally appropriate plants, and drought-tolerant landscaping, this spa was thoughtfully designed in all aspects. A heat recovery system uses recuperated heat from the baths and showers to preheat water throughout the spa, down lighting reduces light pollution, and window design helps achieve passive solar heating on all major buildings.
Address: 8010 Mons Road, Whistler
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Some of these eateries were in collaboration with Forage & Sustain. With stringent requirements, I only work with brands whose visions and ethos align with my own. All thoughts and opinions remain my own.
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