How To Use a Refill Shop: Your Ultimate Guide
Do you ever use your local refill shop? Or are you a bit unsure about how it all works? Maybe you’re not sure what a refill shop actually is? I have you covered in my ultimate guide to how to use a refill shop. Reading my guide is a great way to start being more eco friendly, or continue on your zero waste mission.
One of my friends told me she’s confident using refill shops now, as I showed her how to use them. I realised it might be a bit daunting going refill shopping for the first time. Afterall, I can’t take you with me when I go, and show you the ropes! I decided to write a guide with pictures, to explain exactly how to use a refill shop. So it’s hopefully the next best thing to going refill shopping with me.
Read on to find out how to use a refill shop, to help cut down on your packaging waste.
What Is a Refill Shop?
A refill shop is a shop that helps customers cut down on packaging. Even if you’re not going for a zero waste life, shopping at a zero waste store helps you cut your packaging waste hugely. You can read all about the benefits of shopping at your local refill shop here.
So how do refill shops work?
The refill shop buys goods in bulk, to cut down on packaging. The customer brings their own container, or buys one from the refill shop, and fills it up with whatever they need. You pay by weight, have zero packaging waste, and support your local economy too. Often, refill shops have other eco-friendly products. They are a brilliant place to visit, when you need replace your old things when they break, with a more sustainable version.
How Do I Use A Refill Shop?
The first time you use a refill shop can be a little daunting, because it’s probably a different way to shop from what you’re used to.
Basically you weigh a clean, empty container, fill it up, weigh it again, and pay. But it does take a bit of practice to get all the steps right. I’m going to show you step by step exactly how to use a refill shop.
So next time you pass one, you’ll feel confident to go in and start your refill journey. I’ve been to lots of refill shops, and the people who run them are always so friendly and helpful, they will guide you through it if you need a little help!
How To Use a Refill Shop, Step by Step
Step 1: Get Your Clean Container
Decide what you need to refill, and take either your container from home, or a container that you can use to buy the item, and refill your home container when you get back. For example, when I refill flour or sugar, I take my reusable IKEA container with me so I can refill it directly. If I have a more fragile home container, I may take a (clean) takeaway container or something similar, so that I don’t accidentally break it. Alternatively, you can use a paper bag, which the refill shop supplies.
Step 2: Weigh Your Empty Container
When you get to your local refill shop, weigh your empty container on the scales. If it still has a bit left in it, it doesn’t matter. The scale weighs that, so you only pay for what you refill. I’m refilling my hand soap here, I also bought a replacement pump here, as the original one broke. I was so happy I didn’t have to throw the whole thing away!
Step 3: Stick The Label On To Your Container
The scales will print off a label with a QR code, which you stick on your container. Don’t worry about these labels leaving a sticky residue: they peel off really easily leaving no trace.
Step 4: Fill Your Container
Find the item you want to refill in the shop. Use a clean scoop to refill it, or pump it in to your container if you’re refilling liquid. It’s easier to refill clear containers as you can see how full it is. If it’s not clear, like my hand soap pump, check the level frequently to avoid overfilling!
Step 5: Scan The Label
Go back to the scales, and scan the label with the bar code, so it knows how much weight to deduct from the final weight.
Step 6: Select Your Item On The Scales’ Display
Stand your full container on the scales and find the product you’ve refilled it with. Normally they are grouped in things like ‘personal care’ ‘baking’ ‘cleaning’ etc. So you can press the overall category and then find the product on the next screen.
Step 7: Weigh and Print
Press the correct product and it will weigh it, and print a new label with the price. Stick it on your container and then go to pay. They will scan the bar code at the till so you only pay for what you have filled.
Congratulations, you have now made your first refill shop purchase!
It may sound complicated, but once you’ve done it once, it makes perfect sense!
REFILL SHOP TIP: Forget your container? Many refill shops sell nice reusable glass bottles or jars which are great if you don’t have one already. Otherwise you could use a paper bag that they supply. Or a clean jar, which you can clean and return for another customer.
So What Can You Refill at a Refill Shop?
I am constantly amazed by all the things you can refill at a refill shop! As well as lots of baking staples such as flour, sugar, cocoa and spices, you can also refill herbs, loose leaf tea, coffee and cereal.
I refill cleaning products and washing up liquid. I refill shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, and even hand sanitiser. Sometimes you can refill vitamin tablets, and even bird seed!
It’s well worth popping in to your nearest refill shop to see all the things you can refill. Many have a gluten-free section too.
Refill Shopping Around Milton Keynes
I live near Milton Keynes, and we are really lucky here that we have three refill shops! So if you want to find a refill shop in Milton Keynes, here they are:
The Green Way 2 Shop is in Olney
Nothing Wasted is in Newport Pagnell
My Refill Market is in Stony Stratford
Each of these refill stores have a list of goods you can refill there and prices on their website.
I hope you’ll feel confident next time you go to a refill shop!