How to reduce your carbon footprint with refillable products

Display of lines of large jugs in The Keep Refillery, a Toronto store that sells personal care and home products in refillable containers to reduce their carbon footprint and packaging waste.

When it launched in 1976 in Brighton, England, The Body Shop seemed like a ground-breaking retail concept, which was to sell shampoos, bodywashes, and other personal care items in refillable containers. Founder Anita Roddick believed business could be a force for good, and focused on natural ingredients and ethical manufacture. She also raised awareness of the idea of a carbon footprint long before it became a common phrase, worked with Greenpeace to promote jojoba oil as a substitute for sperm whale oil, and was an early proponent of authenticity over artifice for women.

“Beauty is an outward expression of everything you like about yourself.”

Anita Roddick

Proof of what an enduring concept refillables turned out to be, the model is being reinvented by a new generation of entrepreneurs. Wife and husband Jacquie Rushlow and Andrew Murray, for example, co-founded The Keep Refillery, with a similar aim to reduce or eliminate plastic waste through a refill model for home and personal-care goods.

Their first location was a small tire shed in Creemore, Ontario. In just three years, they established brick-and-mortar stores in Creemore, Meaford, and Kingston. Above and below are pictures from the recently opened Toronto location at 637 Dupont Street.

The well-lit, well-dressed, and well-planned Toronto storefront gives the neighbourhood access to locally-sourced, organic, biodegradable, and cruelty-free products in refillable containers, all designed to reduce the carbon footprint of the home. 

Customers can bring empty reusable containers from home to refill with anything from shampoo and conditioner to laundry detergent and face wash.

Refillable containers can also be bought in the shop, and there’s a ‘take a jar, leave a jar’ program for those who forget. Items can also be ordered online for delivery and in-store pick-up.

Such a mixture of fun and and practical items — greeting cards infused with seed that can be popped in the garden, jar lid accessories, versatile canvas “buckets” that fold when not in use, and cheerful tote bags. A broad selection of storage items, includes reusable bread bags, coffee filters, and lunch containers.

Good-quality cleaning brushes for various purposes are also part of the stock, as are clever cleaning tools, such as re-usable dusters made of cotton flannelette. Outdoor items include vinegar-based weed killer, sunscreen, and insect repellant.

Such a sensible, convenient way to stock up on staples, eliminate packaging waste, and reduce your carbon footprint. Here’s hoping refillable packaging reaches into more and more consumer categories.

Vicky Sanderson

A self-confessed Opinion-ista, Vicky Sanderson has been writing and talking about décor, design and lifestyle issues for almost two decades, and has tested just about every home product known to humankind.

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