Packaging makes up a huge part of the waste produced that goes to landfill. It therefore makes so much sense to reuse and refill wherever possible. Refill shopping is on the rise and there are so many reasons why this is so important. Today is World Refill Day, which is a campaign aimed at reducing single use plastic pollution by choosing to use reusable products rather than single use alternatives. And it’s definitely worth celebrating.
It is often asked, ‘why refill when we can recycle?’. Recycling is fantastic and it’s so great that so much of the packaging used today can be recycled and that more and more people are doing it. And a recycling economy is certainly better than a linear economy. However, recycling isn’t the only or best way. Some items destined for recycling don’t get recycled for a number of reasons, including becoming contaminated in the process. Also, a lot of energy, resources and emissions are involved in the process.
You may have heard of embracing a circular economy when there is talk about waste pollution. A circular economy supports the continual use of resources and is all about reusing, repairing and sharing to create a closed looped system eliminating waste and reducing carbon emissions. This is where refill culture is on the rise and why it is so important to reuse and refill.
Single use items are also convenient and often inexpensive, and therefore can be the go-to, especially when life is busy. However, it’s worth taking some time to look into the long term effects of the waste produced when using these items, and how easy it is to replace them with reusables.
When choosing reusable containers there are some important factors to keep in mind. Do you need to buy something new, or is there something you already have that could do the job? Choosing reusables doesn’t mean throwing out all the plastics in your home to replace with new, plastic free alternatives first. Use up the plastics and other items you already own and when they need replacing, look into a sustainable alternative. If you’re looking to buy something new, look for products that will last, rather than those that will end up in landfill sooner rather than later. Look at products that possibly have dual purposes, for example, cups or bottles that can store both hot and cold liquids.
Keep your reusables handy. It’s one thing to have them, it’s another thing to remember them to use them. I like to keep a coffee cup both in my car and at work so there is no excuse to get takeaway coffee in a single use cup. I also keep the bulk of my shopping and produce bags in my car for whenever I stop at the shop, however, also have a couple of small ones folded up in my hand bag. And I always have a water bottle with me.
There are so many things you can have refilled. For example, pantry food items from bulk stores. Take your jars and canisters along, or easily folded up reusable bags to save on carrying heavy items and fill up with all your pantry needs. Anything from coffee beans to cereal to baking ingredients to peanut butter to oil and vinegar….and a whole lot more.
Refilling food items is a big one, but there are so many other things you can get refilled as well. Personal care items like deodorant, toothpaste, hand and body wash and shampoo and conditioner. There are many bulk stores that stock bulk essential oils if you like using them to make your own products. These stores also stock other ingredients in bulk to make your own products with like beeswax, shea butter, citric acid and bi carb soda. Laundry and cleaning products are also readily available for you to bring your own containers along to be refilled. There are even services that provide delivery products and refills to your door.
When you think about it, there are no excuses to not reuse and refill. What do you vow to start refilling today?
Small switches can lead to big changes.