What to Do in Wichita, Kansas: Your Eco-Friendly Guide

<p>Wichita, Kansas is surprisingly eco-friendly. Here's where to eat, shop, thrift, and compost in town.</p>

Sophie Hirsh - Author
By

Jul. 24 2023, Published 12:12 p.m. ET

Over an image of a river in Wichita, Kansas is an inset photo of a farmers market, and a photo of a pizza.
Source: Composite: iStock, oldtownfarmandartmarket/Instagram, piattoneapolitanpizzeria/Instagram

Located in the center of a state in the center of the country, Wichita, Kansas is a surprisingly exciting destination for zero-wasters and eco-conscious travelers. With a thriving vintage shopping and antiquing scene, plenty of delicious spots with vegan options, a recycling center, a zero-waste refill shop, and more, you’ll have no trouble filling your visit to Wichita with things to do.

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In addition to all the sustainable spots around town, Wichita, the largest city in the state of Kansas, is also home to endless museums, several major aircraft manufacturing companies (it’s known as “the Air Capital of the World” — not the most eco-friendly brag), multiple colleges, and more. I have visited Wichita numerous times, as a close family member calls the city home, and my visits are constantly kept busy, in large part thanks to all the awesome secondhand shops and restaurants with great plant-based options.

If you are planning a visit to Kansas anytime soon, check out our Green City Guide to Wichita.

A river in Wichita, Kansas at night.
Source: iStock

Where to eat: These are the best spots with plant-based options in Wichita.

Sunflour Cafe & Collective

Sunflour Cafe & Collective, found on W. Central Ave, is a cafe with endless vegan options and a marketplace featuring goods made by local makers, artists, and more. And in the cafe, you'll find a fully vegan soft serve ice cream bar — a personal highlight.

Hungry Bunny Virtual Donut Shop

Hungry Bunny Virtual Donut Shop is a Black-owned, woman-owned, vegan business that donut extraordinaire Khloe Dior runs out of her home. She bakes unique, sparkly, homemade donuts that locals can order for pick up every Friday; she also offers nationwide shipping. Fun fact: Beyoncé once featured Hungry Bunny in her directory of Black-owned businesses.

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Poppie's Cafe

Located in the Ruffin Building on E. Douglas, Poppie's Cafe offers a fully vegan menu, filled with breakfast burritos and sandwiches, smoothies, bowls, and more. The cafe is only open during weekday business hours, but owner Sarah also offers catering and personalized dessert orders.

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Piatto Neapolitan Pizzeria

Piatto Neapolitan Pizzeria offers authentic Neapolitan pizza⁣⁣ on E. Douglas Ave, with various vegan pizzas on the menu. Yes, there's vegan cheese.

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Lotus Leaf Cafe

Located on N. Washington Ave., Lotus Leaf Cafe has a menu filled with vegan options — including delicious vegan breakfast on Wednesdays through Sundays. At Lotus Leaf, You'll find smoothies, French toast, vegan burritos, veggie burgers, and more. Lotus Leaf is a must-visit for me every time I go to Wichita.

What to do in Wichita: These are my favorite places to visit.

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The Old Town Farm & Art Market

The Old Town Farm & Art Market, which has been around since 1991, is filled with locally-grown produce; you can also stock up on other local foods like bread, jam, and kettle corn; and you can shop for plants, art, and baked goods from a wide variety of vendors.

The market works to be eco-friendly by prioritizing vendor companies with sustainable practices, working with ICT Food Rescue to redistribute food that would otherwise go to waste, providing on-site compost bins, and more. The market is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Pro Kansas Recycling Center

For locals, a trip to the Pro Kansas Recycling Center is just a weekly errand — but for zero-wasters like myself, it is the highlight of every trip. The center collects recyclables (from basic bottles to items that are not typically recyclable curbside), features a mini free library, and if you’re lucky, you’ll even see the recycling baler in action.

If you're interested in a tour, reach out to the center via its website. And even though the tours are usually reserved for school groups, as a huge nerd, I thoroughly enjoyed every second.

Pro Kansas Recycling Center is a nonprofit that operates thanks to donations, grants, and the sale of recyclables — as well as volunteers — so make sure to leave a tip on your way out.

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Botanica Wichita

Wichita's botanical gardens, known as Botanica Wichita, has been open since 1987. It includes more than 30 gardens, more than 18 acres of gardenscaping, and more than 4,000 plant species. Botanica hosts many community events, and is a must-visit year-round — even in the winter. For the holiday season, Botanica fills the park with 2 million lights, and hosts a magical nighttime walk called Illuminations.

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Where to shop in Wichita: You'll love these thrift stores and zero-waste shop.

Wichita is known for its amazing thrift shopping and antiquing scene. The city is covered with charity shops and vintage stores that have impressive selections of clothing and everyday items — but their antique malls will keep you busy for days. We’ve highlighted a few below, as well as the city's zero-waste store.

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Grate Fill

Grate Fill is a zero-waste refill shop, where you can bring your own jars to stock up on package-free products from shampoo to laundry detergent. The brand also sells other zero-waste essentials, such as bamboo toothbrushes and cotton dishcloths.

Grate Fill is located within The Marketplace at Clifton Square, where you'll find goods sold by various Kansas-based small businesses that are part of the Marketplace Collective.

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Dead Center Vintage

Dead Center Vintage sells curated vintage clothing and accessories for people of all genders, sizes, and ages. The shop is located on E. Douglas Ave, but you can also shop its secondhand gems online.

Plus, Dead Center Vintage has donated thousands of dollars from its profits to various bail funds and the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Paramount Antique Mall

Paramount Antique Mall (in West Wichita), Paramount East Antique Mall (between East Wichita and Augusta) and Paramount Marketplace (in Wichita) is a local chain of massive antique malls filled with antique furniture, crockery, trinkets, decor, children’s toys, and endless other goodies. Prepare to get lost for hours.

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The Hereafter

On N. Hillside, you'll find the The Hereafter, a fashion resale store offering incredible vintage pieces, modern secondhand clothing, and handmade goods by Wichita locals. The store, which is owned by two "kooky fashion enthusiasts," also runs clothing drives for foster children.

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Where to compost in Wichita: No need to let those food scraps go to waste.

I’m ashamed/proud to admit that I have taken food scraps home to compost in my luggage on more than one vacation. But because rotting vegetables tend to get flagged by TSA (and because they smell even worse than the dirty laundry filling up your suitcase), it’s always good to figure out a place where you can drop off your compost in advance.

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Nudge Compost

Nudge Compost is a small, private composting company in Wichita that offers compostable waste dropoff and pickup for local individuals and businesses. The company charges a monthly fee of $25 for weekly pickup, or $12 for self-service drop-off. If you’re just in town for a short period of time, try contacting Nudge Compost about a one-time drop-off.

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The Old Town Farm & Art Market

The Old Town Farm & Art Market website says it offers composting on-site — so if you're planning to browse the food and art at the market, feel free to bring a bag of your food scraps.

In “Green City Guides,” a travel series from Green Matters, we break down what to do, where to stay, what to eat, and more in various cities around the world — while staying sustainable.

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