I’ve made a lot of lifestyle changes for the planet. I almost entirely only buy second hand, eat a plant-based diet, reduce my flying and use public transport or my legs) over driving. As much as it’s great to do these things, I feel that I have a duty to do more….especially as I’m so privileged in many ways.
Fundraising, educating and encouraging change in others. This is where you can really start to make a positive difference in your own way!
So I wanted to share something I did recently to try to help my community be more environmental which was to set up a plastic-free refill hub. I hope others will read this and decide to do the same. I set it up for the neighbours that live on my street but you could do this for your family, friends or colleagues.
The idea behind a refill hub
I’ve been trying to reduce my plastic as much as possible. The easiest place to start with this is at home with household and cosmetic items. I’ve actually switched out a lot of my cleaning products for natural ones instead. Like using these soap nuts for my laundry (they’re amazing!) or this home-made powder in my dishwasher. I also have a DIY natural all-purpose cleaner that really does work on everything. Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a go…..
- 100ml white Vinegar
- 2 tbsp Baking Soda
- 10 drops oil (lemon, tea tree, lavender….whatever you like best!)
But sometimes I need to use products. Like a stronger laundry detergent to clean the baby’s dirty reusable nappies, or hand soap in a pandemic.
Plastic-free shops are cropping up here and there but are few and far between and really very expensive. So I decided to set up my own mini version of a plastic-free shop at home.
Via Amazon, I ordered large refill containers of my favourite products, alongside some pumps that would allow me to decant the products it into smaller bottles. Using refills works out way cheaper than buying the products in the shops. It also reduces plastic waste.
I did this via Amazon as part of their Subscribe & Save service so I could get the items delivered all together saving on the packaging). I also get a discount (5% off your first order and 15% thereafter). They will then automatically send me replacements, although I can easily change the date of delivery if I need to.
Opening the refill hub up to others
You could do this just for yourself but I figured it would take years for me to get through some of these large containers. Plus it’s an opportunity to make going plastic-free even easier for others.
I initially started by ordering a handful of products that I thought would be popular (see my full list below with links to make it easy for you to find). I made sure all these products were eco in other ways as much as possible. Not using harmful ingredients, plant-based and sustainable, because environemtnal isssues go beyond just plastic!
Next, I calculated how much 100ml of the product would cost, added in the cost of purchasing the pumps and then rounded this up to make payment easier. If there’s anything left over at the end of the year use it treat yourself to a nice meal for the good work you’ve done, donate it to a conservation charity or host a party to thank everyone who bought from your shop. You will end up with some money left over as Amazon sometimes run deals and eventually the pump costs will be paid off.
Think about the easiest way for people to come fill up at your station. You could ‘open shop’ at a set time each week ie, come refill your items between 6-6.30 on a Tuesday). Get people to message you to arrange a time or simply get them to drop the empty bottles by your door with a note asking what they want.
My refill hub
Here’s what I have in my refill hub. I’ve also said how much they were in total and how much I’ve marked them per 100ml or per item, accounting for all additional costs….
- Faith in Nature Shampoo, Jojoba scent – £37.18 for 5L or £0.90 for 100ml
- Faith in Nature Conditioner, Jojoba scent – £38.36 for 5L or £0.90 for 100ml
- Faith in Nature Soap Bar, Tee Tree scent – £30.73 for 18 or £2 for bar
- Bio D Washing up liquid, no scent – £10.79 for 5L or £0.25 for 100ml
- Ecover Hand Socap, lavender – £31.61 for 5L for £0.70
- Ecover Laundry Liquid, non-bio – £48 for 15L or £0.40 for 100ml
I also ordered…..
- Pumps for the refill containers – £8.99 for 2 (you’ll need a one for each container you have as you can’t mix)
- 15 Natural kitchen sponges – £12.99 or £1 each
- Soap Bags (nets that you put soaps in to make them last longer – they are also good body scrubbers) – £8.99 for 10 or £1 each
Note: It’s much more environmentally friendly to use soap rather than body wash because of the process involved in producing them!
A few final thoughts
When the refill containers are empty you can ship them back to the manufacturer!! This is really important as this will help to reduce a lot of waste. With this in mind you may want to hold on to the shipping box. If it isn’t clear how to do this then just send the company an email directly asking how.
I did this with basic household and cosmetic items but hope I can expand down the line to include more scent options. You could also do it with staple food items. Just look on amazon for any refill option that offers the Subscribe & Save service.
If you do set up a refill hub please please let me know! Everything I share is because I hope to start a ripple effect. Each time I hear a success story it’s a motivation boost for me to keep going 🙂 And if you have any questions, please just ask in the comments box below.