Diane Rudge refills a hand soap container at The Den quality goods and refillery in Ucluelet. The store stocks products that are ocean-friendly, biodegradable and local. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Tofino and Ucluelet open zero-waste refill stations

"We wanted to have a thoughtful impact on the community."

When it comes to embracing a waste-free lifestyle, West Coasters now have the upper hand with new refill shops (or refilleries) opening up in Tofino and Ucluelet.

The Den Ucluelet, located across from the aquarium, recently re-opened their shop as a zero waste refill station, carrying about 30 products ranging from house cleaning to hair, body and beauty.

Frankly Tofino, located on Campbell Street near Wolf in the Fog, is aiming to open as soon as possible pending permits from Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Owner Madison Greyson, 23, said Frankly is poised become the first food refillery in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. In addition to supplying household cleaning and beauty products, Frankly will also carry kitchen staples like: flour, seeds, spices, and quinoa.

Young entrepreneur Madison Greyson said it made nothing but perfect sense to open Frankly Tofino, a shop that promotes simple and waste free living.

In the broadest sense, a refillery is a place where you bring a container from home and fill it up.

“For me, a refillery means a lot more than that. It’s the ability to look at shopping and consuming differently. It’s the ability of course to eliminate single-use plastics and it’s the ability to live life with less,” said Greyson, who sits on the board of directors for Clayoquot Clean Up.

“I want Frankly to be a platform for people learning a new way of shopping,” she said. “It’s the idea of breaking away from the consumption side of it and just shopping for what you need. To me, that’s what a refillery is. It’s a resource for being able to buy what you need and not what you don’t.”

The Den co-owners Kristen O’Keefe and Diane Rudge said they have had an abundance of support since rebranding their artisan shop as a refillery.

“We wanted to have a thoughtful impact on the community. We didn’t want to bring in stuff that would sell just to sell,” said Rudge adding they are now in a great position to educate visitors.

O’Keefe reiterates.

“We are all in this zero waste journey together and we want The Den to be a space to discuss alternatives, learn together how we can lower our impact and grow as a community in sustainability. We are hoping that we do not only have an impact on our local environment, but inspire all the tourists that visit our beautiful region to go home and make a small or big change in their day to day life as well,” said O’Keefe.

“The first step to start living a zero waste life is to do just that, take one step,” she went on to say. “If you don’t know where to start, come say ‘Hi’ and we would be thrilled to help incorporate little by little some zero-waste habits into your day to day.”

This June, Tofino and Ucluelet officially adopted unified bylaws that prohibit businesses in either town from providing plastic bags or straws to customers. According to Surfrider Pacific Rim, the Co-ops were distributing 76,000 plastic bags each year in both towns. The non-profit is looking forward to creating fruitful partnerships with Frankly and The Den.

“Working towards a circular economy means designing as much plastic packaging out of our systems as possible, and a major part of this is the refill revolution where individuals bring their own reusable containers for foods, beverages, and other necessities like household goods,” wrote Surfrider Pacific Rim chapter manager Lilly Woodbury in an email.

“Additionally, the zero-waste movement is picking up momentum, but we need to ensure that all people can participate in this movement, which means lowering the barriers to participation like lack of access. So, with this, people on the coast are going to have way greater ease in eradicating waste from their lives now that we have local options for refill and zero waste products,” said Woodbury.

Most recently on Nov. 1, Return-It bumped bottle deposit rates for non-alcohol beverage containers from five cents to 10 cents to encourage British Columbians to recycle more containers, with the goal of keeping them out of landfills and oceans.


nora.omalley@westerlynews.caLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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