Most people think about restocking laundry, dish soap and other common household supplies as buying new ones, containers included. But emerging eco-friendly brands and services offering refills are hoping to change that line of thinking.
Soap refill stations have popped up in cities around California and the nation, offering common beauty and cleaning supplies to customers a la carte — container not included.
"The soap refill station is a way in which people, without having to throw away their containers, are able to come into our shop and refill soap," said Derrick Kikuchi, co-owner of Reach and Teach, a fair trade gift store in San Mateo.
Kikuchi and his partner Craig Wiesner have been working to stock products eco-conscious customers seek out, and now offer a refill station full of locally-made soaps to further reduce carbon footprint, "part of an overall sustainable lifestyle," Kikuchi said.
Kikuchi estimates that around 100 customers are using the service off and on, with regular visitors frequenting the soap station once a month.
Other venues dedicated solely to refilling boast even larger customer bases. In Placerville, California, one shop has refilled approximately 35,000 containers since opening in 2013, according to One Love Refill Station owner, Adriana Diiorio.
The refill trend is not entirely new, Kikuchiel said, adding that community grocers have been offering similar services, but at times can't keep up with the demand.
"We're in a unique time when frugality and being green is on the same page," Kikuchi said. Customers "don’t have to choose between saving some money and doing something good in the world."
While fads come and go, Kikuchi is hoping this one is here to stay.
"We're hoping we're not just the only ones. We want others to do it too," Kikuchi said. "But we're really, really excited about the fact that we're able to do it in this space and do it in the Bay Area."