Tips, tricks, and cautions when shopping for wellness goodies

Who doesn’t love shopping for products that scream HEALTH?! Better yet, those that claim to make you happy, the people who made it happy, the environment happy - EVERYONE HAPPY! But how do you know if that expensive eco-friendly “mindful” facial oil you’re about to drop mad $$$ on is actually as “green & clean” as it seems? Shopping for wellness goodies can be just as confusing as any other consumer goods, and I figure there’s no better person to show us the ropes other than Tara Miller from Health Hut.

Tara founded Health Hut, a natural lifestyle shop, in 2011. In keeping with her inclusive approach to healthy living, Tara has curated a warm and welcoming environment, offering a range of natural beauty, lifestyle and self-care products. Health Hut is located in Toronto, seasonally in Muskoka and online. Below is a summary of our chat which includes everything from green-washing red flags to self-care for yourself (& the planet).

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Q: What are some major considerations to keep in mind while shopping for wellness products? (As it relates to sustainability and conscious consumerism)

A: So I have always used David Suzuki's Dirty Dozen as a guide when looking at ingredients in products for both myself and the store.  I also try to prioritize buying local brands whenever possible, both for environmental reasons and just the great feeling you get when you give back to someone close to home.  If glass is an option, I like to go that route over plastic, too.

Q: What's a green-washing "trend" we need to be on the lookout for?

A: I don't want to name names, but do I find there are lots of "natural", "clean" and "non-toxic" labels flying around on many products and brands with natural looking marketing campaigns, when in reality that may not be the case. For this, my best advice is to read your labels.  If you are concerned, double check any ingredients you unsure about using resources like Environmental Working Group or David Suzuki's list I referred to earlier.

Q: How do you curate Health Hut to align with your values? What are some questions/considerations you make in choosing products/brands?

A: So as I mentioned earlier I use databases like EWG and David Suzuki when choosing which ingredients to include and which to leave out.  I will choose local (Toronto has SO much talent!) when possible. I also really like nice looking things, and do my best to pick lovely, vanity friendly, design forward packaging because, well, that makes me feel good too!  I really enjoy getting to know the makers behind each line and supporting the kind, hard working individuals that make each product.

Q: Favourite sustainable brands/products and why?

A: Other than all the brands I carry at the shop ;), I am loving everything from Everlane these days!

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Q: What are your favourite ways to practice self-care that are kind to yourself - as well as the environment?

A: So I have recently started gardening and have found it to be such a lovely way to decompress, get a little exercise and to connect to nature while being in the city.  It is also nice to be able to commit as much or as little time as I have, whatever works that day. I have particularly enjoyed watching my herbs grow and to use them in salads, pastas and soups without buying them in the store in plastic containers!

Q: What's your definition of "retail therapy"?

A: I mean, I'd be lying if I said shopping doesn't make me happy - but it makes me even happier when I know the companies I am supporting are doing good while simultaneously making me feel good!

Health Hut will be sponsoring 2 of our self-care mini spas at Retail Therapy, of which Tata Harper & Province Apothecary will be offering mini facials for our retreat guests!

Tara Miller, BA (Hons), CNP, is Holistic Nutritionist and Intuitive Eating Counselor based in Toronto. In her practice, Tara works with individuals to improve their health by improving their relationship with food.  Her goal is to change the way people view healthy living, making it much more pleasurable and attainable. Using a weight neutral approach, she empowers her clients to be experts of their own bodies, guiding them to listen to and trust their individual needs. Tara inspires people to live outside of diet culture, recognizing the many factors that contribute to health including pleasure, satisfaction and psychological well-being.

By: Kiki Athanas, Wellness Expert & Educator @

Kiki Athanas