Good Bottle Refill Shop, New Jersey’s first zero-waste and refill store, officially opened on Sept. 20 in Maplewood.
The shop sells a variety of items, including soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, laundry detergent and shaving creams. They also have an assortment of products that support a low-waste lifestyle, like bamboo toothbrushes and reusable mugs and water bottles.
Deanna Taylor-Heacock, the owner of Good Bottle Refill Shop, explained that customers can bring their containers, or purchase them at the store, and use a five-step system to refill. A customer first weighs the empty container, fills it up with a product, weighs the container again, labels it and pays for it.
Taylor-Heacock explained the inspiration behind the store.
“I started getting really concerned about the amount of waste that my family produced,” Taylor-Heacock said. “I started researching ways to reduce waste in our house. I came across the zero-waste lifestyle and the zero-waste hashtag. I was just like, I’ve got to make some changes in our house.”
She noted that she started making changes in small ways, like switching to cloth napkins and using non-paper towels instead of regular paper towels.
“I just realized a lot of the cleaning products and soaps I was buying were very wasteful; they were single-use plastics,” Taylor-Heacock said. “The laundry detergent that I was buying once a month, I could literally have that container the rest of my life because plastic does not go away.”
She also expressed her concerns about all the plastic going into oceans, wishing there was a place that she could refill some of the stuff instead of buying new each month.
Taylor-Heacock read about refill shops in the book “Zero Waste Home” by Bea Johnson. She said, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place where I could just refill my shampoo instead of buying new?”
After doing her research, she found out that there were no such stores nearby. There were some in California, Denver, Canada and the U.K. With her work experience in retail for her whole life, Taylor-Heacock said it seemed like a natural thing for her to take on.
Taylor-Heacock finds that college students have been more receptive to being environmentally conscious than anyone else. Alyssa Futa, a junior diplomacy major, reached out to Heacock because she was curious about the store. Futa, a member of Blue Goes Green and Environmental Protection and Conservation Commission (EPACC), said that Seton Hall students are making efforts to make the campus more sustainable, and Heacock had offered to invite Futa to the soft open of her store.
“Being environmentally friendly is very important to me because of the alternative,” Futa said. “If we aren’t making efforts in our everyday lives to decrease our consumption and waste, it’s just going to keep piling up. Where I’m from, because we’re an island, we see the effects of littering, climate change, etc. right on our doorstep. I grew up in a state where it was normal to be environmentally conscious, and I hope to bring that conscious behavior wherever I go.”
Futa has purchased some products from the refill shop and anticipates shopping there in the future, she said.
Parker LaCourse, a senior diplomacy major, said that being a college student often means that one prioritizes convenience over most other things, including sustainability or conservation.
“When assessing your own climate impacts, it’s important not to fixate on everything that you’re doing ‘wrong,’ but rather focus on all the ways you can improve. be it reducing your carbon footprint, cutting out unsustainable practices, or reducing consumption and waste,” LaCourse said.
He noted that in the society we live in, people feel obligated to come across as climate-conscious, but people are all guilty of leaving the lights on when they leave the room and the like.
LaCourse said, “The store-owners realize that sustainable practices are not always the most convenient in a consumer economy, but they’re working to make sustainable practices easier and more accessible.”
Kristel Domingo can be reached at Kristel.firstname.lastname@example.org.