Sustainable Living

How to create a home refillery

Today I’m sharing about one of my favourite spots in the house – my own personal refillery! A refillery is generally a provider that stocks bulk quantities of items such that you can refill reusable containers with goods rather than purchasing items in disposable packaging.

My refillery! Mint dish soap and all purpose cleaner and Oneka shampoo and conditioner

Identify your areas of waste

Have you ever considered how much disposable packaging/single use plastics we go through in a day? Alison did a waste audit and shared her results and some resources here. Through several years of Plastic Free July, Krista and Alison both identified plastics (and alternatives) for various areas around our homes here!

A summary of some home hotspots we’ve noted are:

Bathroom: shampoo and conditioner bottles, body wash, makeup, deodorant containers, toilet paper wrap, toothbrushes

Kitchen: Bulk item packaging, cling wrap, yogurt containers, coffee packages, dish soap bottles or dishwasher soap containers, scrubbers

Laundry: microplastics from clothing, plastic packaging for laundry soap and stain removers, dryer sheets

Other: cleaning product bottles, shipping packaging, water bottles, product wrappers, plastic in clothing/accessories

So what is a good place to start to reduce plastic usage at home?

The dilemma

As noted above, there is plastic in so many products that we need for our homes. And unfortunately sometimes there are not many alternatives to the plastic in these items (tofu!), or the alternatives don’t come cheaply or easily.

I don’t live in an urban area and have found that it can limit my options for alternatives like zero waste stores and refilleries which tend to exist in more densely populated areas. The effort involved to trek to a zero-waste store in a larger city is a deterrent for me, and I’m not on many delivery routes!

Additionally, these items come at a premium price. This is understandable as often the products are produced locally, ethically, and use high quality materials. However this is a time when many of us are having a hard time staying within a budget.

So how to balance reduction in waste with cost and other resource pressures?

Identify what products you use the most

It started with a shampoo and conditioner for me – I found a company that supplies bulk quantities of locally-produced products to hotels and ordered 4L jugs! I was unreasonably excited about this and haven’t been disappointed – the quantity I purchased lasted for a year. Some companies will let you return the jugs for re-use, however I used them as mini greenhouses in my garden.

When looking around the house, I noticed that we tended to go through a good amount of dish soap and all purpose cleaner, and had tried a few options to lower our plastic use in these areas, but wasn’t completely happy with the products tested.

Source products for your refillery!

I was in Ucluelet last year and the hotel we stayed at used refillables for shampoo, conditioner, and dish soap. I fell in love with the dish soap and so hunted down the supplier (below) and wasn’t disappointed! At the end of the year I took advantage of their boxing day sale and stocked up on a few more products. Assuming that each 4L jug lasts me a year, each product costs about $7.50 per month to use. Look for a supplier in your area to stock your refillery!

Bonus DIY plastic-free ideas and recipes

Here are a few other ideas to reduce plastic around the house!

Home made deodorant

Homemade glass cleaner

DIY dish washer tablets

What are your go-to ways to eliminate single use packaging?

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  • Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader)

    A gift from a local bulk soap supply and refill company was what got me started on my journey to reduce waste several years ago. They are still my favourite local small business and their prices are very reasonable compared to buying single-use plastic containers of laundry soap, etc. They are just up the street from my mum’s place so I drop in when I’m visiting. I love your idea of having your own refillery, though. Buying in larger quantities is always a good idea.

    P.S. Funny that you mention Ucluelet. I’ll be there this summer. I have a work meeting in Victoria in July so my husband and I are spending 10 days exploring Vancouver Island. If you have any suggestions on “must-sees”, let me know.

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Refilleries are so great! I love that they’re a part of your story 🙂

      I’ll message you on Twitter about the Island!

  • Karalee

    This is a great idea to have a home refillery and to buy bulk quantities for commonly used products! I don’t live near a refillery or zero waste store either, so I’ll definitely look into starting a home refillery as well as suppliers I can use.

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      I hope the option works out for you! It’s a great way to get the benefits of a refillery when you don’t live near one 🙂

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!