Earlier this year I was feeling disappointed with the community that I live in. I felt that there was a good level of consciousness here, but very little action to back it up. Every day I was walking past trash cans filled to the top and beaches littered with trash. I heard people talking about being good to the earth, but it seemed to be all talk and little action.
It was around that time that I walked past a new store called Blue Dot Refill. I stepped inside to check it out and my faith in my community was restored by the time I walked out.
This business creates almost no trash and is helping the world do it too!
The idea is really simple. It’s a bulk refill shop where you bring your own bottle! You can fill up on shampoo, laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap, household cleaning products, pet wash, body lotion, bath salts, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, deodorant, and at least a dozen other products.
With every bottle refilled that means one less bottle has to be produced. They have filled over 10,000 bottles so far!
If you don’t have your own bottle with you they’ve even got a gift donation bin of used bottles that you can pick from. These are bottles that people have dropped off or that they snagged out of recycling bins. Bottles are weighed on a scale both before and after it’s filled so that they only charge you for the weight of the product.
You pick out whatever it is you want and then fill up a bottle. No more recycling bins and garbage cans full of all sorts of bottles, boxes, and cans. If you are in a hurry, you can even drop your bottles off and pick them up later, filled up by the staff.
They say REFILL ALL THE THINGS and I agree!
Blue Dot orders their products in either 55-gallon drums (the big blue ones), 5 gallon buckets (bottom left)
or 1 gallon containers.
And when these containers are empty, they don’t get tossed out. All of them are given away to customers or members of the community through craigslist or Facebook. The 55-gallon drums are used for things like rainwater harvesting and Aquaponics. The 5 gallon buckets are used as compost buckets, containers for chicken feed, and by sports teams for holding gear. There’s actually a waiting list for these buckets! The one-gallon containers are used for others to hold laundry detergent in.
They offer so much more than just soaps too. Besides filling up on laundry detergent they also offer soap nuts, “the laundry detergent that grows on trees.” They are good for about five loads and when you’re done with them you can just throw them in your yard or compost pile.
This place allows the average family to cut back the production and disposal of over one hundred bottles and containers per year!
You can even refill your toothpaste and they sell bamboo toothbrushes too.
They are not only helping customers to live a trash free lifestyle, but they practice everything that they preach. They seem to be covering almost every detail of zero waste. To give you some examples: When products come in bubble wrap or packaging they bring it to the OB Business center and it is then reused for shipping. They don’t offer printed receipts at all; instead they email it to you. Plastic or paper bags are not an option here either; instead you just have to bring your own bag if you need one. They even encourage their distributors to use less packaging, rippling far up the production chain.
I had them save their trash and recycling for 5 weeks and this is what they created. On the left is recycling and on the right is trash. The average US American creates about as much trash in a day as this business did in 5 weeks. That is truly astounding!
They are bold and they talk about it. Deidre (the owner) and her team at Blue Dot are using business to spread the zero trash way of being. In the trashy society we live in today that is truly honorable. Most businesses won’t hold strongly to these beliefs because they are afraid of inconveniencing their customers and in turn losing them. Deidre said they’ve only had one or two annoyed people in the last year and they were OK with that. It’s more important to them to lead by example, then to please everyone.
One of the things that keeps Deidre going is “seeing people get lit up” when they walk in. People come and feel a sense of relief and see that they are “not the only one who cares about saving the planet.” It is a positive, healing place where just about everyone who walks in the door is excited to be a part of the refill revolution.
The list of environmentally friendly things they are doing could go on and on. Refilling from bulk containers cuts back on shipping, plastic creation, plastic pollution, and packaging. All of this means less fossil fuels being pumped out of the ground, less pollution of our air and water, and less habitat destroyed for animals.
But it gets even better. Everything offered at Blue Dot is ethically produced and earth friendly. You can rest assured when you buy something here that you’re making a good move for the earth. If it’s in the store that means that the product is free of animal testing, petrochemicals, and chemicals that cause harm to you. All products are plant-based and most of them are greywater safe so you can safely water your garden with the water that goes down your sink or shower. (Read My Natural Personal Hygiene to learn more about why natural products are great). There is just one chemical product in the store, a sunscreen, but it is the cleanest chemical based sunscreen on the market.
Unlike most people in corporate USA Deidre is even bold enough to say that you don’t need most of her products or at least not as much as you think you do. She tells people they can get on just fine with less soap or shampoo even though this would mean less profit for her. If that’s not legitimate I don’t know what is!
Deidre tells me that “People come in and say this is so innovative. How did you come up with this?” Her response is, “I’m just taking it back to a simpler time.” And she’s completely right. None of this is innovative. None of this is complicated. It’s simply taking a few steps back to a time when we weren’t so wasteful.
With her cheery positive attitude Deidre tells me “More and more people are coming in. It’s becoming more mainstream and popular.” That’s good news for planet earth!
So I challenge you, the reader, to join the refill revolution! Find a place like Blue Dot in your community or check out your local co-op. If you can’t find one, don’t distress Deidre is planning to franchise Blue Dot and you can email her at info@BlueDotRefill.com if you want to talk about starting a bulk refill shop in your community.
Follow Blue Dot on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram.
Hungry for more? There are hundreds of ways to go zero waste. Check out my guide and video on How to Live a Near Zero Waste Life!