I decided to start Smug after my big sister started her own refill station on her organic farm in Shropshire.
Refilling bottles is such a no-brainer, and there’s nowhere local to me that offers convenient refills. So Smug was originally going to be a refill shop in Leeds.
Unfortunately, there’s very little money to be made in refill stations. Certainly not enough to pay for shop rent in our location, and someone to assist. But refilling bottles is one of the best thing you can do to reduce plastic waste — and if you don’t have a refill station locally, the next best thing is to buy in bulk.
For example, take Bio D. Most of their bottles are 100% recycled from UK green bin waste, and most can be recycled again after use.
Additionally, refilling your own dispensers means that you aren’t throwing away containers that are difficult and expensive to recycle. For example, something relatively innocuous like a squirty soap dispenser consists if a combination of parts, and for that container to be recycled, it has to be dismantled. Most people wouldn’t bother dismantling the soap dispenser before binning it, and many don’t have separate recycling bins in the bathroom anyway.
So by taking the top off and refilling, you’re saving resources and reducing waste, even if you do this via the less-than-ideal solution of buying bulk bottles yourself. It’s also generally much cheaper.
Here’s a really good list of refill stations in the UK.