Be the Change: The story of two women and one refill store

Port Moody Refillery

Refill stores are a Zero Waster’s paradise. You bring your own containers, get them refilled with goodies like shampoo and dish detergent (often natural and local products!) and pay for the exact amount you want. They also typically stock eco-friendly goods, such as bamboo toothbrushes and compostable floss. It’s shopping without the plastic waste!

But what do you do if you don’t have a refill store near you? I’ve written about this on my Instagram page recently, because there are a lot of other things you can do to help reduce waste and be part of the solution.

For Teresa and Julie, though, that wasn’t enough. Because they didn’t have the refill store of their dreams close by, they decided to open one instead. How’s that for being a living embodiment of the phrase, “be the change you wish to see in the world”?

Teresa and Julie’s story is one of community building and entrepreneurship. They describe themselves as regular, suburban moms (not seasoned Zero Waste advocates) who both owned and operated businesses in Newport Village, a quaint little community in the city of Port Moody, near Vancouver. Teresa owns a toy store and Julie owns a tea shop, with an emphasis on bulk, looseleaf tea. Working in shops in the same community, they became close friends.

The two both loved shopping at refill stores in downtown Vancouver, but found that they couldn’t get there as often as they’d like.

That’s where the story begins. Here’s my interview with them.

What motivated you to open the shop?

We opened Port Moody Refillery as we felt compelled to use our retail skills to make a positive difference in our community.  Over the last couple of years we heard over and over again that people were looking for a refill shop closer to home.  So here we are!  And Port Moody is onboard!

Did you always live “Zero Waste”?

We are not claiming to lead a zero waste lifestyle; rather, we are making efforts to reduce single-use plastics as much as possible.  We are constantly looking for alternative solutions to reduce our footprint.  There is room for improvements but the important part is to get started and implement changes right away.

Why are refill stores so great?

Refill store provide environmentally friendly solutions for products we use every day.  They are a great place to support your low-waste lifestyle and connect with likeminded people. They support your local economy and encourage a neighbourhood life.

What inspires you?

We are inspired by our amazing staff and employees who share with us their ideas and journey. Making changes in your everyday life isn’t always easy but we are motivated to see how many people are embracing a more sustainable lifestyle! We are determined to give our children a better planet.

What’s next for Port Moody Refillery?

We are always looking for new eco-friendly and locally made products that provide alternatives to products we use every day!


Photos courtesy of Teresa and Julie of the Port Moody Refillery.


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