Refillery offers local solution to plastic problem

 In Business

Many of us are taking a look at our blue bins these days with a sense of dread. We want to be less dependent on plastic but feel trapped in an existing consumer culture of over packaged goods.

It was a desire to break the plastic habit that drove Jacquie Rushlow to start experimenting with alternative products. In an effort to be plastic-free, she spent a year researching and testing everything from shampoo bars to laundry strips. She would order products online or drive an hour away to shop somewhere where she could bring her own reusable containers, but she thought about how, from a carbon footprint perspective, driving around and having things shipped wasn’t condusive to a long-term solution.

She woke up one morning with the idea of opening a refillery in Creemore, where people could bring their own containers and buy custom quantities of a range of carefully curated products. Rushlow said she bounced the idea off her sounding board, husband Andrew Murray, and with his encouragement she set about drafting a business plan, even though neither of them have any retail experience. In six weeks, the idea has gone from concept to reality and The Creemore Refillery set to open on March 1.
She says it’s half business and half mission.

As member of the steering committee for CLEAN, a Creemore based group dedicated to reducing plastics in the village, Rushlow hopes the refillery will support people in their efforts to use less plastic, and build community. For her, it’s also about education. She hopes people will learn from each other and be connected by a common goal to create less waste.

The refillery will carry a variety of products, both scented and unscented, including shampoo, household cleaners, and beauty products. Everything is all-natural, organic, vegan and cruelty-free. With the exception of one supplier, all the companies are Canadian.
“I have tried everything I am selling,” she said, adding that anyone who tried “natural” products in the past and found them inferior will be pleasantly surprised by the quality. “The products have evolved. It’s like they have figured it out.”

The bulk products are delivered in plastic jugs but Rushlow has specifically chosen suppliers who will take back their own jugs to reuse or efficiently recycle within their own supply chain. She has rejected companies that won’t take back their containers, the ones who told her to put them in the blue bin.
It’s not an original concept but it is a model that is growing in popularity, a kind of throwback to the way people used to shop.

Here’s how it works: People can take the products home in a few different ways. They can either bring in their own containers, grab one from the take-a-jar-leave-a-jar bin, or they can purchase pre-filled containers. The latter is being marketed as a bottle service, and people will also be able to place orders online. The container is weighed before and after it is filled so the customer only pays for the product.

As for price, when comparing with bargain products, the cost is higher, but when comparing with other mid-range personal care products, the price will be on par and sometimes there is a savings of a dollar or two because the supplier is saving on packaging.

There are savings to be found in other ways, too. Rushlow said a soap bar for dishes is equivalent to three bottles of liquid dish soap. With a cut-your-own option for bar soaps, people will be able to purchase as much or as little as they like.

The refillery will also carry deodorant, scrub brushes, bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste, reusable straws and other extras.

Rushlow said there is no wrong way to use the refillery and people shouldn’t be intimidated to check it out, even if they haven’t yet figured out their own system. She aims to make the store friendly and welcoming for newbies and hardcrore shoppers alike.

The Creemore Refillery, located at 195B Mill Street (beside Creemore Auto Detailing), The March 1 grand opening is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For a full list of products, store hours and more information, visit thecreemorerefillery.ca.

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