Top Tips to Start Refilling and Reusing (for World Refill Day 2022)

The 16th of June is a big day.

Not only does it mark the 59th anniversary of the first woman in space and the 119th anniversary of the Ford Motor Company, but it’s also World Refill Day 2022!

A global campaign that aims to “prevent plastic pollution and help people live with less waste”, it’s a vital environmental cause that’s very close to our hearts (obviously, the tagline we live by is “More Love, Less Waste”!).

To commemorate this special day, we wanted to put together some useful tips and tricks to help you get into and get used to refilling and reusing products. If we all work together to adopt this new and more sustainable form of consumption, then we may soon be able to bid farewell to single-use plastics for good!

Let’s take a look…

The Many Problems With Plastic Packaging

Ohhh my, where to begin?!

The first thing we’d like to say is this: we get it!

Single-use plastics are super convenient and serve a purpose. They’re a cheap and durable way to keep food fresh and carry your bits and bobs around.

But, and there’s no way to sugar-coat this, they’re also atrocious for the environment. It’s estimated that we produce around 5 million tonnes of plastic in the UK each year. And, according to the same source, that figure includes – wait for it – 15 million single-use plastic bottles per day.

The adoption of plastic over the last few decades is nothing short of extraordinary.

It’s in almost everything these days – including items you’d never expect. This blog post explains how plastic’s in our clothing, so-called “foil” packaging, and even things like tea bags, chewing gum (yes, you read that correctly) and sea salt (we’ve got micro-plastics to thank for that one).

It’s a little shocking to realize that plastic’s in the food we eat, right? What’s even more shocking, though, at least in our opinion, is the impact it has on the planet.

Firstly, single-use plastics live up to their name.

A prime example of our throw-away culture, people ditch them quicker than you can say, “But what about the turtles!?” That plastic waste has to go somewhere, and 10 million tonnes of it gets dumped into the ocean each year. That same source notes that less than 9% of it gets recycled.

As you can tell, this is a big problem. But let’s all take a deep breath. There are plenty of ways to tackle it too! Case and point?

Refilling and reusing packaging…

Refilling and Reusing Packaging: How to Get Started

Refilling and reusing involves buying reusable products (some of which are, a little ironically, made out of plastic) to store things in and going to a refill shop to purchase consumable goods to keep in them.

Here’s a quick example. You know those little plastic tubs of spices and dried herbs you find at the supermarket?

Well, with this approach, you might buy an empty glass jar and visit the local refill shop or International market instead – filling it up from the giant spice jars they have on the shelf. Or, better still, you might hold onto your old jam jars, wash them out, and use them to put your spices in!

The outcome’s simple: you no longer have to buy new products made from plastic all the time. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get into this mindset:

1. Invest in a Refillable Water Bottle

Fun fact: buying a reusable bottle can save approximately 150 single-use plastic bottles from being used (and eventually discarded) every year.

A refillable water bottle is both eco-friendly and convenient.

Crazy, right? It’s a small change, but it has a big effect. Whether you invest in an Ocean Bottle (made from recycled stainless steel and recycled ocean-bound plastic), a Buoy Bottle (100% recycled ocean-bound plastic), or a Hydro Flask bottle, it’s the perfect place to start your sustainability journey.

Oh, and you should 100% check out thermos flasks too! They’ll keep liquids hot or cold, making them ideal for tea, coffee, and refreshing drinks in the summer.

2. Buy Reusable Containers for Essentials

News just in: refill shops sell most kitchen and household essentials these days! Seriously, whether you’re looking for pasta, rice, nuts, spices, or baking products, they’re all available and free from plastic packaging.

To get your hands on them though, you’ll need some containers to put everything in first. Bonus points if you can repurpose old jars, bags, and takeaway containers for the job! We recommend Mintie if you’re looking for somewhere to buy them though. 

This British company sells awesome reusable products and, as a bonus, is committed to helping nature too by offsetting their carbon emissions.

Another easy way to get started this World Refill Day (if you’re in the West London area) is delivery service No Waste Jose. They deliver refillable goods by bike, meaning you never have to leave the house. For some handy tips for first timers, check out our episode with Marcela Rivas (co-founder of No Waste Jose) on the More Love Less Waste podcast.

3. Buy Plastic-Free Laundry and Cleaning Products

Do you know what else you can buy without plastic at refill shops?

Laundry and cleaning products! From washing up liquid to laundry detergent, they’re all ready and waiting for eco-conscious consumers like yourself! Sometimes you can even buy shampoos and soaps, transferring them straight from the big tubs in-store to your pre-used bottles and jars.

If you’re wondering what to put this sort of product in, then look no further than glass bottles! Give them a good rinse and those old jars of passata and Patak’s korma sauce, for example, can work a treat. Ecover, Smol, and Kinn are a few eco-cleaning brands to check out too. Psst, we have a great offer with Smol for 25% off your first paid pack, click here for more on that.

Top tip: the Refill App’s a godsend for this sort of stuff. Check it out to find refill stations and opportunities near you.

Find Your Local Refill Store of Choice

The trick to successful refilling and reusing is finding a great local refill shop that has all the products you want/need!

Thankfully, more refill stores and stations are cropping up every year, making this task easier and easier. Some supermarkets even offer this option now! According to The Guardian, for instance, Waitrose, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Ocado, and a supply-chain company called CHEP are soon to offer refill stations.

Teaching kids to refill is a great way to introduce them to easy sustainable options.

Pebblemag has an awesome resource that lists 88 of the best zero-waste stores in the UK. Be sure to check that out to find a place near you.

One UK brand that stands out is Source Bulk Foods, but a quick online search of “refill stores near me” should reveal the options in your area. And, again, don’t forget to check out No Waste Jose!

Start Refilling and Reusing in Time for World Refill Day 2022

If you’re looking for a way to live a life of More Love, Less Waste, then switching from single-use plastics to refilling and reusing is a fantastic place to start. Give it a try this World Refill Day 2022 and let us know how you get on!

And, remember, reusing can involve all types of plastics, including what you buy for parties. Check out our guide to throwing an eco-friendly kid’s party to learn more.

Finally, know that there’s all manner of small changes that could help you cut out or reuse plastic to reduce waste. Our articles on Plastic Free July and Plastic Free Picnics introduce you to a bunch of them.

Whatever changes you make, we’d like to say congratulations on starting your sustainable journey into refilling and reusing. While it may feel daunting, it’s much easier than it seems at first and you’re doing a world of good for the planet in the process. The only thing left to say happy World Refill Day 2022, and good luck!

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Y’earn is a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent Baby & Kids items from people and small businesses in your community or make some cash if you have items you don't need right now. We plant 🌲 and adopt 🐝, plus give to children’s charities.

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