• The Refill Lady

Everything in moderation

It’s been a year now since we launched on social media (this was one of the first pictures I posted) and the response really has been overwhelming. We’ve nearly hit 2k followers on Facebook and 2.1k on Instagram. Bonkers. What started me off on this journey was trying to reduce the waste that my family created, so I wanted to give an honest account of how were doing at home.


It all started with a few simple picnic bits – homemade hummus, a spork or two, some wax wraps, snack bags and sandwich wraps. My water bottle was probably my very first conscious purchase, and I’d been using an old stainless steel, thermal coffee cup for years.


A year later and we’re going full-throttle. We’ve all upgraded to stainless steel water bottles (Grumps was the last to convert recently after his old plastic bottle hit the dust). We’ve almost (but not quite) managed to use up the last of the household cleaning products (did I buy loads, or not clean enough??!).


My hand soap, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, multi-surface spray, washing up liquid, laundry detergent and softener bottles are now a year old. We’ve baked over 150 loaves of bread and I’ve perfected my flour tortilla, hummus, sausage roll and cookie recipes (it’s the ‘royal we’ on bread – this is actually Grumps’ territory). We get our milk from Kingarth Farm using their vending machine, and we routinely shop at the market using our own containers.


In the bathroom, I’m using coffee grounds and avocado oil instead of face scrub, and the lovely Antique Rose soap from Cooks Lane Herbs on my face. We all use Faith in Nature body wash, shampoo and conditioner, and I love the Sapooni face and hand creams. We have bamboo toothbrushes and I use Georganics mouth wash tabs and Denttabs toothpaste tabs. The kids still have toothpaste in tubes (the Little Director tried toothie tabs but couldn’t get used to them and to be honest, teeth brushing is a big enough pain in the arse as it is!).


I’m struggling slightly with a baby wash. Bath time is usually Grumps’ domain so I have to get his buy-in - lets just say that this is a work in progress…. The same goes for night-time nappies. We use cloth nappies and wipes all day without fail, but at night-time when the pee-monster comes and fills nappies with a ridiculous amount of pee that surely no real human can produce, we still use a disposable nappy. Sad times.


One of the next biggest challenges for me has been meal-times. We have a few staple meals which are wonderfully plastic and waste-free, but with two kids under six, and a husband who is on a ‘regime’, it’s hard. I’ve gone back to basics. There are things we just live without (crisps, crumpets, bagels, ready-meals), and others that we buy far less frequently (cereal, yoghurts, kids snacks, bagged salad leaves, bagged herbs). There are things that I miss (we planted spinach, coriander and parsley seeds yesterday!), but generally, we’re eating simple, good, homemade food. We feel healthier than ever and we’re spending less.


My philosophy isn’t to try to reach a status of plastic-free and zero-waste perfection. I don’t describe myself as plastic free or zero waste so I try not to feel too guilty about the occasional bit of contraband. Everything in moderation, as Granny Refill always says.


I’m up-grading some of my changes next, as well as seeking solutions to some of the problems I haven’t yet solved. For example, after avoiding them for ages, I’m going to try shampoo bars (watch this space for an exciting new brand!), and I’m working on some household cleaning products that will replace the occasional bottle of bleach I still buy (I’m experimenting with citric acid, bicarb, vinegar and lemon – not all at once mind you!). I’ve recently bought in loads of loose toothie tabs so that we can do refills by weight.


Finally, I’m always constantly seeking out new recipe ideas so please feel free to sling some my way via the Facebook recipe group. Good luck everyone. I’m always all-ears if you have any challenges that you’d like a bit of extra brain power to help fix.





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ECO VILLAGE, 65 St Mary's Road, Market Harborough LE16 7DS

FOOD HALL, Harborough Indoor Market, Market Harborough LE16 9HB

Unit 3, Oundle Wharf, Station Road, Oundle PE8 4DE

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