When did ‘refillable’ become so trendy? Asda recently opened a trial store that’s devoted to plastic-free refills, Tesco partners with Loop to have reuse stations in-store, and across east London where the Grasp team reside, there’s a growing number of refillable grocery shops like this one near our office in Hackney Wick.
But isn’t all this just too much hassle?
You’ve got to buy and keep your containers, visit a physical store when grocery shopping is increasingly online and then get your jars of stuff back home now full of the heavy stuff that makes you realise why you got stuff delivered online in the first place. The idea of a local store where you can pick up your neat, individually packed goods sounds idyllic to some, but it harks backs to a previous age when we had local grocers on our high streets.
And while we might like the nostalgia of it, there’s a reason the way we shop for weekly groceries changed 50 odd years ago. Better availability of the stuff we want, a wider choice of products and less time spent queuing while the grocer picks and packs the stuff of the customer in front of you. They were all great reasons to love the move towards supermarkets with their wide range of pre-packaged goods ready to pick up and buy easily.
Online shopping of course is that step that makes all that even more convenient. As anyone with an Amazon Prime addiction will tell you – it’s just so damn easy! Online grocery shopping means less wandering around aisles to find the thing you want, a maximum choice of what’s available, no queuing for checkout and no driving to and from a store.
Refillable soap, cereal or laundry detergent all sounds like a great way to reduce the amount of household plastic waste we use, but in practice it can feel like a step backwards. For busy parents, who has the time to spend making dedicated trips to refill their jar of pasta?
But all is not lost. Here are our four inspirational ways to reduce the amount of plastic you use through simple online refillable solutions that any busy parent can incorporate into their grocery shopping – minus the hassle!
1. Laundry detergent, but no giant plastic bottles
There are so many brands that have now reduced the amount of packaging that comes with your classic laundry detergent bottle. Though not strictly a refill, brands like Dropps deliver super compact packages through your letterbox with minimal packaging waste and no plastic.
The small tablet refills for detergent and fabric softener make washing easy and refills incredibly convenient. Subscribe to get them just when you need them and never get caught short. There are also great options for dishwasher tablets which takes care of another daily routine that can usually pile up plastic packaging waste.
2. Disinfectant sprays that make use of the water in your taps
It’s always seemed strange that we’re so happy to buy products that are pretty much 95% water. Obviously not everything mixes well, or the proportions you need to mix requires more precision than you’ll apply at home, but there are plenty of things that can be diluted at home - as squash addicts in our house, this is not a new concept! But buying concentrates of disinfectant and just adding water at home, rather than shipping bottles of water about just makes sense!
Smol household cleaning spray bottles come with refill concentrates that mix with water from your tap. When you run out, you can order new refills delivered with minimal plastic waste. It makes an easy swap compared to your standard supermarket bottle and spray head that can’t otherwise be recycled very easily.
3. Soap refills in recyclable pouches
While it’s hard to mix water and soap to make the skincare and body washes you love, there are better ways to make use of your existing bottles than just throw them away when you get new ones.
When you don’t have to worry about how your products are going to sit on a supermarket shelf, there are lots of ways to get creative with how you ship skincare. Kankan ships it’s skincare in cans, Fiils and Bower Collective use recyclable pouches all reducing the amount of plastic you need every time you need to refill your hand soap or shower gel.
4. Get new deo without throwing the last one away
You might’ve heard it said that every deodorant you’ve ever used still exists. The plastic used in traditional deodorant sprays sits around in landfill and yet we keep going back to the store to buy new ones. But you don’t have to.
From Fussy to Wild, there are great new brands bringing high quality, refillable deodorant in beautifully designed re-useable cases straight to your armpits. Buy the case you want, choose your scent, and then get the refills as often as you need them (or subscribe if you so wish). It’s such a simple solution it makes you wonder why we ever did it differently….