Using what you already have, finding new uses for existing items, purchasing items made from sustainable materials, or even recycling items when they are no longer of use can greatly impact the amount of waste a person produces while positively altering their carbon footprint. One area of sustainability that has especially been popular as of late is the idea of zero waste. Although many areas of retail contain single use plastic as their normal packaging, non-single use plastic packaging is now emerging. You have probably seen these zero waste products before: reusable cotton rounds, reusable paper towels, shampoo and conditioner bars, and silicone ziplock bags are a few examples that I personally use in my home on a daily basis. But now, with the creation of refill stations, everyday products such as laundry detergent, dish soap, bath gel, and even dog shampoo among several other options, can be zero waste too. So what exactly are refillery shops and how much better are they for our planet than the existing alternatives?
The concept of refillery shops are not entirely foreign as people may believe. Much like bulk sections of grocery stores in which a customer fills a desired amount of items such as nuts, grains, or coffee into a bag whose cost depends on weight, refill stations allow customers to bring their own containers (or provide an in-store eco-friendly alternative) for everyday household or personal care products to fill with a desired amount that is also priced based on weight. These stations are easy to use, save consumers money, and eliminate unnecessary packaging. Using refill stations or buying in bulk, can significantly reduce the amount of waste in landfills. While it will likely take an enormous amount of time to eliminate all single-use plastic and other non-recyclable packaging globally, it is evident that refill stations are indeed a step in the right direction.
According to Cooper’s Refillery, a notable refill station, their users are saving 207 kg of plastic on detergent and 628 kg of plastic on hand soap, over a span of 5 years (Cooper Refillery, 2020). If more consumers begin to practice zero waste in this way, the impact will continue to decrease. If this refill station alone has such a substantial environmental impact, imagine the possibilities if these stations were as common as a normal grocery store.
My personal experience of using refillery stations has been very positive. I recently visited the Sonora Refillery in Oceanside, California to refill my laundry detergent. I brought in an empty container from home (which happened to be an empty laundry detergent bottle) and the refillery staff filled my entire container for less than $7. In addition to the simplicity of the visit, their staff was extremely knowledgeable in their products and how to use them. I was also able to buy other sustainable products such as bamboo hairbrushes and sustainably made dog toys. Now when finishing a plastic bottle of something like orange juice or shampoo, my family and I will save them to use at refill stations rather than tossing them into my recycling bin, suggesting a progressive difference is being made in my home.
Lucky for us, refill stations are becoming increasingly accessible. Yes, it is more widespread in bigger cities, but with more consumer demand, I believe users can truly make a difference in their community if they want to. Also, this could mean other refill stations than the ones discussed here. In my hometown of Carlsbad, California, there is an Alkaline water refill station in our downtown village. Here, people can bring bottles to fill with water at their convenience (their “vending machines” are open 24 hours a day) and pay by the amount. So, with new knowledge of refill stations, it is my hope that more people will feel comfortable using them and create a widespread change in the way consumers purchase products. With the help of Common Good, a company that has been offering refill stations since 2010, I have complied a list of refillery stations to visit around the world below.
Refill stations are extraordinarily sustainable as they reduce the amount of plastic packaging that is being produced, they save customers money, while also introducing a new way to practice zero-waste techniques. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a refill station, I highly urge you to check one out. Those who work there are very knowledgable and helpful, and these green products are sure to make a difference in your life and in your home.
- Earth & Me- Queens, NY
- The Lucky Honeybee- Jersey City, NJ
- Eco Evolution- Norwalk, CT
- Peace Valley Lavender Farm- Boylestown, PA
- Evolve Apothecary- Providence, RI
- Strawberry Moon- Marion, MA
- Mom’s Organic Market- White Marsh, MD
- S.A.L.T. Provisions- Bethany Beach, DE
- Bona Fide Green Goods- Concord, NH
- Manse- Alexandria, VA
- Lost River Trading Post- Wardensville, WV
- Altwood- Kitty Hawk, NC
- The Green Store- Belfast, ME
- The Findery- Canton, OH
- Blooming Well & Co- Macomb, MI
- Yoga Nook- Middlesboro, KY
- Solana Home & Body- Knoxville, TN
- French Mercantile- Summerville, SC
- Onatah General- Indianapolis, IN
- Isadora Popper- Lakemont, GA
- Centered Chicago- Chicago, IL
- The Glass Pantry- Milwaukee, WI
- Adis L Mercantile- Albertville, AL
- Simeon the Makers Loft- Iowa City, IA
- Nene Refill- Tallahassee, FL
- Winding Road Gifts & Interiors- California, MO
- Golden Fig- Saint Paul, MN
- Fern & Willow- Roeland Park, KS
- Soulmart- Fayetteville, AR
- Vintage Green Review- New Orleans, LA
- New Perspective- Claremore, Oklahoma
- De Smet Mercantile- De Smet, SD
- The Refillery Co- Farmers Branch, TX
- Flyaway- Cambridge, NE
- Cedar & Hyde- Boulder, CO
- Earth Wise General Store- Billings, MT
- Aspens Market- Wilson, WY
- Cultivate Market- Holiday, UT
- Minimal Market- Henderson, NV
- Vida Verde Home- Camano, Washington
- Saffron & Sage- San Diego, CA
- Fill Up, Buttercup- Costa Mesa, CA
- Tare Grocery- Los Angeles, CA
- Loam & Black- Grants Pass, OR
- Zoen voor Gust- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Hinterhof- Tübingen, Germany
- Galerie 46- St. Petersberg, Russia
- The Foxes Den- Ponsonby, New Zealand
In no way is this a complete list of refillery stations around the world. I tried to include one from each state, but for some states there are several! For a location near you, simply search “Refillery Station near me” and enjoy!
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Photo: Konstantin Volke via Unsplash