Waste Free

Zero Waste Refill Shops

In today’s post, I am very pleased to say that the wonderful Louise from my local refill shop, Fill Your Boots, has agreed to write a post to share with you! She is an absolutely wonderful human being (who even brought my refills to my house when I couldn’t drive due to my sprained ankle!) and I couldn’t be more excited to share this post with you today.

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Introducing me…

Hi, I’m Louise and I own a zero-waste refill store called Fill Your Boots in Gloucester. Lottie has kindly given me this opportunity to explain just how great refill shops are and to share how and why I set up mine. 

My mum brought me and my brother and sisters up in a sustainable way, before being ‘eco-friendly’ was a thing. She made and repaired a lot of our clothes, we bought a lot of things second hand, we’ve always recycled — before kerbside recycling made things easier — and she would always bake cakes and treats rather than buy them. As I’ve got older, I’ve naturally incorporated these values into my own life and have become more aware of environmental issues and the role we each have to play in helping to minimise damage to our planet. 

Why I opened Fill Your Boots

I now have children of my own and it was my eldest daughter’s keen interest in the environment, starting with the issue of litter, plastic packaging in particular, that led me to open Fill Your Boots. After writing to the local council about the litter problem, and volunteering to do a litter pick with her friends, she asked me why grown-ups don’t do more to reduce plastic and help the environment. I didn’t really have an answer for her but ended up opening a shop specifically to help tackle the problem! 

How do Refill Shops Work?

There are many independent refill shops in the UK and a lot of us are part of a supportive group on Facebook where we can ask questions and bounce ideas off each other. All of these refill shops offer customers the opportunity to bring their own containers from home, be that old take away tubs, jam jars, Tupperware or even a bread bag, and fill them with a variety of loose foods. Pasta, rice, beans, nuts dried fruit, seeds, cereals, baking ingredients, herbs and spices, tea and coffee, oils and vinegars and sweet and savoury treats are some of the many products available. Chocolate coated honeycomb and pick and mix sweets are always in my monthly top sellers, it’s not all about the healthy food! 

The concept of refill is simple. You weigh your empty container, you then fill your containers with just the amounts you need, your container is then re-weighed and you pay! One of the joys of refill shops, other than the amount of packaging you avoid, is the ability to just buy a few grams of something if that is all you need for a new recipe.   

It’s not just loose foods you can buy from refill shops, a lot of us also offer household cleaning products such as washing up liquid and laundry detergents, and personal care products such as shampoos and body washes. Again, you fill up and pay for just the amount you need. You can also find a wide range of household items to help you on your zero waste, plastic free journey.  

But Aren’t Refill Shops Expensive?

A common misconception is that a refill shop will cost more than a supermarket but that isn’t necessarily true. Some products might cost slightly more but overall you will probably find that many are the same or slightly cheaper. You have to remember not to compare prices to the supermarket value brands though as that isn’t a fair comparison. A lot of the products you will find in a refill shop will have been meticulously researched to ensure they are from ethical supply chains, and many will be organic which is better for the environment. You can save money though by buying just the amounts you need, which also helps to reduce food waste.  

If you haven’t yet visited a refill shop, I urge you to give it a go, especially if you have one local to you. Many are like mine; small, friendly, independent businesses that are passionate about making a difference to our planet and we want to share that passion with you. It’s also a fun way to shop!

Inspired by Louise’s post and want to know more awesome zero waste swaps you can make? Check out this post!

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