How To Use a Refill Shop: Your Ultimate Guide

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.

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.

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.

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:



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Becky Pink

Becky Pink


#freelance #copywriter & journalist | | #blogger | chemical-free beauty | homes | family lifestyle | trying to be greener