Refill Stores: A New Kind of Sustainable Shopping

“Zero-waste” has become one of the most frequently used buzzwords in the sustainability world, but the term is paving the way for some pretty clever concepts. Refill stores are on the rise, and for good reason. Instead of buying a new container or packaged item every time you restock on household essentials like soap or detergent, refill stores carry these items in bulk, making it easy to refill your container when it’s running low. This new wave concept reduces plastic household and product packaging waste, while also allowing the consumer to take as much product as they need. That’s a win-win for both small businesses and Mother Earth.

Household Waste: A Growing Issue

Most personal care items, grocery items, and household cleaning supplies are wrapped in some form of packaging. Refill stores are challenging that concept, offering a variety of household products in bulk at their stores for customers to restock up on products such as dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner, and much more. Most of these products are made from eco-friendly ingredients, and the act of bringing your own container encourages recycling and reduction of plastic and product packaging waste. In the U.S., it is estimated that one-third of our country’s yearly plastic waste comes from household products and its individualized packaging. By taking advantage of what refill stores have to offer, we can all reduce our household’s carbon footprint – one reusable container at a time.

3 Noteworthy Refill Stores

Refill stores are slowly but surely popping up across the U.S. and making their way into many people’s weekly shopping routines. From reusable dryer balls to biodegradable cleaners, these shops have everything you need to stay eco-friendly and well-stocked on all of your household necessities.

PUBLIC – West Seattle, WA

PUBLIC describes itself as a “low-waste living shop,” providing reusable bulk goods that customers can refill with their own containers such as bath products, cleaning products, and other eco-friendly items for sale. Their business model is modern and streamlined: simply bring in your reusable containers, let them know what product you want refilled in each, and the company takes care of the rest. They’ll weigh (and tare) your container and refill them while you go grab a coffee or a bite to eat. When you return, you’ll be picking up fully replenished household items such as shampoo, hand soap, or whatever else you may need. Who knew stocking up on essentials could be so hassle-free and eco-friendly?

Good Bottle Refill Shop – Maplewood, NJ

If you’re on the east coast and looking for a refill shop, Good Bottle has you covered. They’re proud to be New Jersey’s first-ever refill shop, providing their community with efficient refill services. Good Bottle carries its own brand-name products that can be refilled whenever you’re running low, such as hand soap and laundry liquid. They also carry other innovative and environmentally friendly brands like Vermont Soap Company and Dropps. While customers have the option to stop by the shop at any time to refill their items, Good Bottle also offers the option to book an appointment online to have all of their items refilled in one fell swoop. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, they began offering the “Good Bottle Loop” service, which provides drop off, delivery, and curbside pickup services.

The Zero Market – Denver, CO

Zero Market’s mantra is “good things come in no packages.” Known for being Colorado’s first zero-waste market, all of their products are sold packaging-free. From hygiene items to gift sets, to loose leaf teas and household cleaning supplies, you can rest assured that whatever you pick up from Zero will be free of packaging and doing good for planet Earth. Zero Market also offers on-tap kombucha, as well as affordable, sliding scale workshops that teach their community members how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Some of their workshop topics include composting, gardening, and making your own cosmetic products.

So, the next time you’re ready to stock up on your essentials, consider saving the container and bringing it to your nearest refill store. Or, switch to a more environmentally friendly alternative. Who knows? You might find your next favorite shampoo or bath soap.

-April Hanna

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