Have you visited a refillery before? It is a fantastic way to purchase the products you love and reduce waste at the same time!
In honor of Plastic Free July, we wanted to share more about this eco-conscious shopping option that might not be familiar to everyone. We asked our friend Kayli at Earth & Me in New York City to share a bit about her refillery with us.
What was the driving force that caused you to start a refillery?
Living in Queens, NYC during the Covid lockdown in a one-bedroom apartment with my partner meant we were VERY aware every day of what went in and out of our apartment (remember sanitizing groceries?!). I have always been conscious about my waste and recycling, but all the single-use items were really starting to wear on me, especially as local stores reverted back to plastic bags for sanitization purposes. However, there was nowhere near me, or in my entire borough for that matter, to buy eco-friendly items or refill containers in-person. I knew we could do better as a community, and as timing would have it, I was looking for a new career path that would better align with my passions and interests. Cue Earth & Me!
What types of products do you offer?
We offer a range of eco-friendly goods: skincare and personal care, cleaning, home goods, gifts and nice-to-haves (journals, candles, and more), as well as a full refillery stocked with everything from organic spices to dry shampoo. Nearly everything in our shop is handmade or made by a small business owner/maker.
What can a customer expect who is new to buying at a refillery?
Refilling is a different experience than shopping at a grocery store, mainly because you need to remember to bring your own container! But it's very fun to walk around filling up on essentials, especially with all the flexibility it provides: fill up a travel-sized bottle, pump just one or two ounces to sample something, or stock up with 50+ oz of dish soap for the long haul! Messes and spills are inevitable and totally OK in our book. And we try to make it easy with free sanitized jars, a "refill happy hour" where everything is 20% off, and a helpful team who is eager to help. Once you start, it'll become a habit for you, as it does for many of our customers who can't imagine going back to tossing everything in the garbage or recycling anymore.
What is one of the unique aspects of running a refillery?
Refilling the refills is a unique aspect of running a refillery! You can't imagine how much muscle and coordination goes into it! :) Also, figuring out how to keep the entire process very circular. We're doing something new and innovative, and that's encouraging us to learn as we go as there is no "playbook." We are revamping elements of our store to incorporate what we've learned together and make refilling better than ever (including soon, offering circular delivery to much of New York City.) We've arranged great relationships with our makers and vendors (like Whispering Willow, one of our favorite partners) to send back containers for reuse and even try out new, innovative packaging to reduce shipping and emissions even further. It wouldn't be possible to do so much good without everybody in the entire supply chain pitching in and caring so deeply.
What new products are you excited about in the shop right now?
I am so excited about some of our new cleaning tablets — drop them in a bottle and watch them foam up! It's the lightest weight, easiest and cheapest way to refill on essentials like bathroom- and all-purpose cleaners. We also have a new line of Earth & Me bamboo brushes for produce, dishes, cleaning, and more.
Many thanks to Kayli at Earth & Me for taking the time to share with us! We hope this helps to demystify the refillery experience.
You can can find more details about Earth & Me on their website or search Whispering Willow's stockist locator and choose "Refill Location" when you search to find a refillery close to you!