Pictured here are my conditioner, body oil, hand soap, and dish soap. All were bought in bulk, without packaging. But here's the thing - I can't find any of these in bulk at the neighborhood grocery stores I frequent most. The closest options for buying some of these package-free are a few neighborhoods away, and some of these I can't even find in Chicago. (My boyfriend lives in Wisconsin near a co-op with a fantastic bulk section, and I stock up when I visit and haul everything home). Not. Cool.
I bet you, like me, struggle some with the bulk availability of the things you need. As a consumer in a country where you can buy almost anything and have it shipped to your doorstep near-immediately, it can be frustrating that many stores are lagging behind in terms of what they offer in bulk. My hope is that as the ranks of us zero-wasters swell, they'll begin to sell more of what we need. But who wants to wait for that? I want to be able to buy everything I need in bulk, in my neighborhood, and soon.
I was so glad to find We Want Refill, an organization doing the critical work of showing stores that we want better bulk options. They're petitioning stores to add refill stations for things like laundry detergent, cleaning products, shampoo, soaps, lotion, and more. Wouldn't that be wonderful? We Want Refill doesn't make these products or the refill stations - their point is merely that the technology exists, other companies make the necessary components, and gosh darn let's get these stations in stores.
It you're still on the fence about whether refilling reusable bottles is worth the minor hassle of cleaning them and bringing them back, here's how refilling stacks up next to recycling. For me and other zero waste folks, the choice is clear - I need dish soap, but I don't need the packaging that it comes in. Refilling my own bottle again and again gets me what I need while using far fewer resources.
To be able to show big retailers that there's a demand for refill options in their stores, We Want Refill is collecting signatures on their petition saying just that. Adding your name to the list says that you support bulk options and demand them in stores near you. It takes just half a minute to sign and the more of us do, the more weight We Want Refill's request will have. If you'd like, their petition can be found here.
PS. Not sure what I mean when I talk about bulk, refillable goods? Here's a quick primer.
This post is in partnership with We Want Refill, whose awesome petition aims to encourage stores to offer liquid bulk options.