Madison is home to five lakes, over 200 miles of bike paths and 270 public parks. Here, sustainability isn’t a trend, it’s a tradition. The capital city has been home to environmental pioneers including Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson, who founded Earth Day. The tradition those pioneers and many others started carries into the Madison shopping scene.
Find sustainable shopping in Madison at these seven gems.
Green Life Trading Co.
Green Life Trading Co. believes that sustainable practices are for all, and their inclusive, zero-waste store focuses on the life cycle of the products they sell. Find everything from bulk vitamins, haircare and skincare to cleaning supplies and kitchen items. Refillable candles, carrot and pumpkin seed eye cream and reusable coffee supplies all make for great eco-friendly gifts. Find their shop (and lots of other good Madison spots!) on Willy Street.
Dane County Farmers’ Market
There’s nothing quite like the Dane County Farmers' Market, which is the largest producer-only market in the country. Focused on Wisconsin-grown produce, flowers, meat and more, the market is the perfect spot for locally grown tomatoes, hand-spun wool and fresh baked scones. Whether you’re looking to stock your fridge or hoping for the perfect Madison memento to take home, the Dane County Farmers’ Market is as Madison (and sustainable) as it gets. (First time at the market? Read our tips for shopping like a local and find more Madison-area markets.)
Ice Cream Social
This University Avenue sweet treat scoops up ice cream with a side of social justice. Ten percent of proceeds Ice Cream Social makes are given to non-profits committed to social justice causes, with the cause changing quarterly and over $18,000 donated to date. Their rotating menu is always 100% gluten free (even down to their delicious made-in-house waffle cones) and features flavor pairings that are sometimes unexpected – like basil ice cream with strawberries and lemon cookie pieces – but that are always incredible.
Try a scoop or a flight or take some home with their pint options. Cute stickers, t-shirts, totes and more are also on the menu.
The Soap Opera
This State Street staple is a woman-owned, local business with sustainable suds on offer. Step into the sweetest, most thoughtful shop for an array of soaps, moisturizers, perfumes and more. Their commitment to being green includes 100% Green renewable energy in their store and on their website, re-fillable house products and recycling packaging to extend its life.
Located in the historic Garver Feed Mill, Kosa Spa focuses on clean, mindful and customized self-care and natural products. No time for a spa treatment? The hair, body and skincare products at Kosa mirror the holistic approach they take to wellness. With a mission statement to “honor people, nature, and your body,” Kosa is a great spot to relax, but it’s also the perfect place for curated, thoughtful products that are good for you and good for the planet.
Madison loves its coffee, and shops like Alice Good, located on Main Street in Verona, are walking the walk of sustainability. Often, countries that produce coffee beans see little to no profits after exporting the coffee. Alice Good aims to return as much of the economic benefits of their business as they can to Colombia, where their beans are grown and roasted. From the glasses the coffee is served in (which are made by people in vulnerable situations from recycled bottles) to their bags (which are compostable and made from corn), Alice Good is intentional in its efforts to leave the world a better place. Grab a drink and do some sustainable shopping at this mindful, bright and friendly coffee shop.
Thrift the Day Away
Buying secondhand is a great way to reduce the footprint of your closet and give something a second life, and Madison is home to over 100 thrift stores, flea markets, antique shops and resale fashion boutiques. Find vintage treasures at Retro Revolution and curated vintage clothing at Good Style Shop. Rethreads on State Street focuses on well-known labels and quality items for a unique shopping experience that offers high quality, high-end pieces. No matter where you are in Madison, you’re not far from a vintage, thrift or resale store with unique, sustainable treasures.
Go ahead, shop til you drop in Madison at these sustainable-minded stores and markets that are delivering high quality, fun and unique pieces with eco-friendly mindsets and missions.