When I buy a can of tomatoes, I’m not simply buying tomatoes. I am buying the can, the wrapper and the inks used to print the pretty string of tomatoes on the front. But the problem is, I don’t need the can. I wash it, dry it, and pop it in my recycling bin. Unless I am creating a crafty project, that can doesn’t serve a purpose to me. It held the contents of my tomatoes to transport them from the factory and supermarket to my house – an energy intensive process just so I can eat one can of tomatoes!
That’s why I refill, whenever possible. It takes away the need to purchase resources you don’t need. Aluminium, tin, paper, plastic, glass – all packaging – are finite resources. Too often we forget what we’re actually buying. We call it waste, and throw it away.
Whangaparāoa Community Recycling Centre has an Ecostore cleaning product refill station. Instead of buying a plastic bottle when you get your cleaning supplies, bring a container you already have and refill it. If you don’t have a vessel to carry and store your cleaners in, you can use one they’ve rescued from their recycling bins.
The Hibiscus Coast is starting to catch on to refilling. New World Ōrewa now has an Ecostore refill station, Silverdale Bin Inn continues to grow and when I present refillable containers to cafés and restaurants for a smoothie or takeaway, I have never been turned down.
If you’re new to this concept, here’s what life looks like for a refill enthusiast like me. I have a cupboard full of jars and containers of all sorts, shapes and sizes. I also have small cotton bags. I use these to refill most of my household goods at Bin Inn. Once I’ve determined the tare of my jars or bags (so I am not charged for the weight) I fill them up with all sorts of things, including flour, nuts, sugar, dried fruit, bhuja mix, herbs and spices, and oils too.
The best part is the milk refill system. Silverdale Bin Inn and Fruit World Silverdale are both part of this scheme. Simply pay slightly more for your first glass bottle of milk, as a deposit for the glass bottle, and return the bottle for a full one when it’s empty.
We cannot recycle our way out of our waste crisis, and compostable packaging comes with many complexities. Next time you shop, consider the resources you’re buying just because you want what is inside them. If we all become conscious of what we’re truly buying, I’m certain we can make refilling the norm.