By Audra Snow
Plastic is bad. You know it. I know it. We all know it. Most of us want to wash our dishes and our clothes, moisturize our skin, clean our bathrooms, but most of the products we use to do these things come packaged in plastic. How do we avoid all of this plastic?
What if there was a store that offered a wide variety of non-food items in bulk? One where we could refill containers we bring from home with products like laundry detergent, toilet bowl cleaner, pet shampoo, and micellar water. Wouldn’t that be stupendous?
Well, on December 15th, 2018 stupendous happened in Durango, Colorado. A “refilling station”, called WeFill, opened.
How WeFill Began
The creator/owner/Team Captain of WeFill is Cristin Salaz. She’s a biologist who bands birds to monitor productivity and survivorship, loves caving and scuba diving, wears a Ween hoodie and a flat cap to work, and is passionately anti-plastic!
When she opened WeFill, I thought the reason was fairly obvious; she’s seen the effects of plastic on the ocean and caves she loves to play in. I was wrong. Grapeseed oil. It all started with grapeseed oil. “I use grapeseed oil as my body lotion, and realized that I couldn’t find it in anything but a plastic container,” Cristin explained as she set me straight about how the idea came about.
This realization led her to walk around her house with pen and paper and list everything she used that came in plastic. Turns out, it was a really big list. Turns out, she didn’t like that. Turns out, she is one motivated woman on a mission to resist single-use plastic container consumerism.
How WeFill Works
WeFill provides the product, the customer provides the container. It’s a match made in heaven; kind of like peanut butter and jelly, or Willie Nelson and a road trip. Customers bring in empty containers, weigh them on the provided scales, record that weight on the containers, then fill their container with the product of their choice. The weight of the empty container is subtracted at checkout, so customers are only paying for the weight of the purchased product. WeFill has a long list of products, and that list is growing as customers make requests; white vinegar is the newest addition.
Along with these bulk options, she sells bamboo toothbrushes, stainless razors and razor blades, loofah sponges, toothpaste tablets, and more.
Why WeFill Works
At checkout, customers make a hashmark on a dry erase board. One hashmark for every container refilled. I love making hashmarks! For me, there is joy in knowing that I am making a tangible difference, right now. There is joy in resisting my OCD urge to have beautiful matching containers in my cupboards and on my countertops. So what if my shampoo is in a re-used Siracha bottle, and my dishwasher detergent container used to be full of Bragg’s amino acids?
It turns out, I’m not alone. On February 20th a WeFill customer made the 1,000th hashmark. In 45 business days the town of Durango prevented 1,000 new single use plastic containers from being introduced in to the environment.
Cristin knows that WeFill isn’t going to solve the ridiculous plastic problem we have in our world, 1,000 containers is just a drop in the (re-used plastic) bucket. But by offering our community a refilling station she is raising awareness about the issue, and maybe more importantly, allowing us to take an active role in a solution. As she loves to point out, “We’ve got to leave the Earth a better place for Willie Nelson and Keith Richards!” And she means it.
Audra’s recent WeFill trip- $17 got me: ORGANIC Dish soap, Rosemary Mint conditioner (I use this as an anti-frizz/tame the mane treatment), Rosemary Mint body lotion, facial cleanser (in a reused dijon mustard container- safe for the shower!), Orange Blossom hand soap, Blueberry micellar water (in a repurposed vanilla extract container, and some (AMAZING) Green Gold mositurizer- full of all sorts of essential oils. Bonus- I get to buy just as much as I want AND I saved SEVEN containers.