Have you heard of product refill station shops? Take your used containers and refill them with household and personal care products, saving many plastic containers from the recycling bins. Here’s how it works!
How many products do you think the average household uses on a regular basis? 15? 30?
Dish soap. Counter spray. Dishwasher detergent. Laundry detergent. Fabric softener. Stain remover. Hand soap. Shampoo.
Along with each product is a container, and most of them get tossed when you’re finished. If you’re like the average person, you might order more through Amazon Prime or Target.com and have a box come with your refill.
But all you really need more of is the liquid inside. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just refill the plastic container you already own? Well this is now a thing!! I went to two different product refill shops in Charlottesville and here’s what I learned.
What are Product Refill Station Shops?
Product refill station shops are popping up in cities across the country. These shops are hubs for people to bring in empty bottles and refill household and personal care products in reusable containers.
This business model is a win-win for you, the consumer, and Mother Earth: you have fewer giant tubs and bottles to buy and haul or ship home, and the landfill and recycling bins have fewer things tossed in them on a regular basis.
I found the process to be totally convenient because the shops had everything I needed under one roof: from laundry detergent to hand soap to shampoo to dish soap. No special websites to visit or cardboard boxes to waste during ordering.
I have tried many greener alternatives to buying household products:
- Soap nuts
- Dissolvable sheets
- Plant-based powders
But so far refills might be my all-time favorite method!
Why You Should Use A Product Refill Station
Reduce your carbon footprint
Reduce waste and carbon footprint of single-use plastics. A great goal for the year!
A convenient one-stop shop for sustainable living
I love that they carry almost everything you could think of for home and personal use. From cleaning your home to your body!
Minimize your own household recycling
Fewer things to carry to the recycling bin and drag to the curb? I’m all about that!! Take used jars there too and let someone else use them for refills instead of filling your recycling bin.
Support a local business
A bonus for the folks putting in the work to set up shops and create this opportunity for the community.
How Does A Product Refill Station Work?
1. Bring your own bottles or containers
Empty laundry containers, spray bottles, mason jars, hand soap pumps – anything that can hold a liquid or powder. If you don’t have your original bottle or need extra containers, not to worry! These shops often have a container stash and would be happy to gift you a jar (bring it back when you’re done). If you have extra mason jars at home, I’m sure a refill shop would love your donation as well.
2. The store weighs your bottle
This means it doesn’t have to be totally empty to refill! I had a little dish soap left in mine and didn’t want to wait until it was totally gone to refill. So this was great that I could have 1/4 a cup left and still go through the process.
3. Add your refill
Most of the products were self-service, except the biggest laundry tanks.
4. Weigh again and pay
After your bottles are refilled, the store weighs them again and you pay for what’s inside.
We now have two refill shops in Charlottesville
The first shop, Cville Refill Renew, is within walking distance to my house. (Although unfortunately I need to drive to cart home the heavy refills!) The second, Dogwood Refillery, is behind our Whole Foods. I’d love to support both!
Cville Refill Renew
Cville Refill Renew was my first visit. I liked that they had a mix of sustainable products with a few “mainstream” ones too. I asked the woman behind the counter about this and she said those are to get people in the door. Once they are hooked on the process, maybe they would be willing to try a more eco-friendly option. I am the perfect example of this because I went in for Dawn dish soap and next time I might try a clear one ; )
The pump bottles you see below are filled with all kinds of products – from shampoo to household cleaner to mouthwash to a powdered dry shampoo. They also sell all kinds of sustainable products (that you see on the far wall there) like compostables, paper towel alternatives, wool dryer balls, and Stasher Bags.
BYO Bottle or Use Theirs
I purchased the aluminum bottle below with a pump to try a new shampoo. They have bottles for purchase if you want something a little fancier for your personal care or need a glass spray bottle for your cleaners. They also told me that they try to re-use all of the pump bottles they have in the shop, so if you don’t have an old laundry tub you can use one of their pump bottles for more heavy duty products. I found the prices to be good, although I haven’t done a full ounce-for-ounce comparison.
What I bought!
- I refilled our All Free & Clear with the store’s free and clear detergent.
- My Dawn dish soap bottle got a full refill.
- A Magnolia and Lily laundry detergent (just for my things) that smells GREAT!
- I’m trying Beekman 1802 shampoo (I like it so far, but the scent is a little spicy for me)
- I picked up the Dropps Lavender Eucalyptus fabric softener pods to smell, and they smelled so good I had to buy them even though we don’t use fabric softener!
I’m now totally obsessed with Dropps! The scents are just so, so good. I reached out to their affiliate team about getting a promo code for you guys and they gave me KATH25 for 25% off of any order!
My mother-in-law and I went to visit Dogwood Refillery next and I now have her hooked on the process! I met the owner, Alex, while I was there, too.
Dogwood Refillery has a beautiful modern feel, and they also sell a lot of eco-friendly and reusable things in addition to refills of all kinds. Check out all these great bristle brushes. They had toothpaste tablets, shampoo, beauty, and I even saw washable pantyliners!
It seemed like they had slightly fewer choices in each category, but they had everything you could need – from soaps to sprays. They also had a jar library, which I appreciated!
What I Bought
- A giant Stasher bag for the half dozen bagels we freeze a few times a month (works SO much better than the reusable bags I bought last year)
- An empty Branch Basics bottle refilled with lavender hand soap. Alex told me to make foaming soap just add 20% soap and 80% water. Voila!
- A bottle refilled with baby shampoo for Birch
- A eucalyptus shower steamer. I got one for Thomas too because he loves adding eucalyptus to his showers via essential oil drops!
I loved both of these shops and am excited to try new things and support these businesses!