Refill Revolution aims to change our shopping habits

refill 1Refill Revolution’s goal is to make sustainable shopping mainstream. Refill Revolution was originally founded in Market Harborough by Beth Lambert, a young mother who was concerned about reducing the waste that her family created.

Camilla Sherwin, a founding member of Oundle Waste Less, went to speak to her about her initiative.
“I really wanted to have a sort of trial, one pop-up shop, but she said she didn’t do pop-ups.” And so, although the initial intention was just to organise a one-off pop-up, Mrs Sherwin opened the shop once a fortnight during the summer. And then, following popular demand, the shop’s open hours were increased to three days a week.

Refill Revolution, located at Oundle Wharf, is a packaging-free shop where customers use their own containers to stock up on loose food items, toiletries and household cleaning liquids. In addition to these refillable goods, carefully sourced sustainable items are available to buy, such as bamboo cutlery and toothbrushes, cotton produce bags, washable nappies, washing up items made from coconut husk.

In most cases their prices are equal to the branded products that can be bought in the supermarkets; in some cases they are cheaper, in some cases they are more expensive. “Our products are carefully sourced and have good credentials. We invite our customers to question their contents, source, provenance and production and we’ll do our best to answer.”

The supply system also works hand-in-hand with the refill ethos. The products are supplied in a circular packaging system where the containers are reused and go back to suppliers to be refilled. Those that cannot be refilled go back to suppliers to be recycled.

Mrs Sherwin said: “Large bags and sacks, and cardboard boxes are reused until we can’t squeeze any more life out of them.”

The Oundle Refill Revolution team want to make it clear that they aren’t “radical zero-waste lifestyle promoters”.

Mrs Sherwin said: “We provide an alternative way of shopping, and do our best to walk the talk, and would prefer that many people think about the impact of their purchases, rather than Refill Revolution providing the solution to the very conscientious few.

“Reducing unnecessary waste is a small piece in the whole environmental jigsaw, but we hope that Refill Revolution provides a place where people can start to figure out some of the puzzle.”

The store has also provided an opportunity for customers to share conversations about green initiatives and has allowed other small, like-minded businesses to promote their services. The Refill Revolution team have started to share their business space with Restore, a new wellness centre at Oundle Wharf that opened in November.

Refill Revolution is open in Oundle on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 4pm.

Sunny Woodend
December 5, 2019