Refill Therapy is a beloved East London destination for zero waste shopping, and East Village is lucky enough to host their new Stratford shop! Meet Dax, one of the founders of Refill Therapy, a small local business with a big, sustainable vision.
What gave you the idea for Refill therapy?
So the idea for Refill Therapy was born largely from my son. He’s a seven-year-old who’s mad about David Attenborough and the planet and through lockdown he started to look at more of our kind of shopping habits and how much waste we were creating. So we then tried to basically reduce the amount of waste by going to our local supermarkets and trying to shop without packaging… We found that really really difficult and then we started to look for refill stores which again were kind of few and far between and were extremely and prohibitively expensive. So I decided to set one up myself.
What can you buy at Refill Therapy?
All your everyday kinds of food and household cleaning products. Alongside a few other personal care items.
What are your most popular products?
Coffee, laundry detergent, a lot of the nuts and seeds and surprisingly vegan chocolates and sweets.
How do you source your products?
Customers come in and say “We’d like to buy X or Y” We then basically go and do some market research try and find a local supplier and then if we can’t find someone locally then we’ll somewhere further afield, but we try and source everything we can from as close to us as possible.
What product are you most excited about?
Peanut butter. It’s something which we like but also our customers keep coming back for more and more of it.
How many of your products are locally sourced?
We try to source as many of our products as locally as we can. We work alongside Doh Bakery in Hackney, our eggs are from an organic farm in Kent, our honey comes from the beehives in Walthamstow and we’re actually going to try and also work with the beehives here in Stratford East Village.
What are you tips for shopping zero waste?
Keep it really simple. Start small. Change a few products at a time see how comfortable you are with it and then basically adapt over time. You’ll be surprised that what kind of products you use every day that actually are wrapped in unnecessary packaging and plastic.
Is Zero-Waste shopping more expensive?
In everything we do we actually regularly check our prices versus Sainsbury’s so we kind of look to the pricing that they have versus what we have in store. A couple of examples are say you use Persil which is an everyday kind of cleaner that people use, they charge about £6.50 for about a litre and a half. The equivalent in store using an eco friendly product from minimal is about £6. So we’re actually cheaper than them on a lot of products.
How have customers responded to Refill Therapy?
We’ve been open now in East Village for about just coming up to three months and we’ve had a really positive feedback from everyone that walks in. Some of them are new to just seeing the store but have done refilling before and others are just completely new to refilling. We’re getting lots of interaction, people telling us what they’d like to see in store, the kind of products they want to see added and so its been a really really positive response.
What new products can we look forward to in-store?
We’re always looking to expand our product range. At the moment we’re developing a new set of products around yoghurts- Greek, low fat… We want to add olives, things like hummus, tofu. We should also have sustainable wine in refillable solutions in the not too distant future.
Tell us about gifting ideas?
During Christmas we curated a number of different gift ideas and what we found is actually when people came in they actually wanted to create their own gift boxes so they wanted to look around at the products but they wanted to meld different groups of products together. So what we’ve now done is actually we’ve just created the gift boxes without any of the products in and people can actually just add and amend as they see fit depending on what the event is or what the person is like and what the time of year it is.
What are your top tips for living sustainably?
Lets be honest we’re always learning. We’re constantly learning in terms of the shop but I’m also constantly learning at home as well in terms of how we can live differently. Key thing is just review what you do and how you do it, right? There is lots of things that you buy that are totally unnecessary in terms of what they’re covered in… Even certain things that you throw away- I’ve got a kettle which is perfectly fine but the lid broke. In terms of heating up water it works absolutely fine, the only thing I do is I stick a stone on top of the kettle on the lid now. It’s worked and it’ll work for another couple of years. We would have probably thrown that away but having done what I’m doing and having become a bit more conscious about the environment and the waste that we create I just thought well actually do I need to throw this out? Not really, what other way can I make it work for me? And then I did that.
Why East Village?
Working in East Village has actually been fantastic because actually there’s a real community kind of feel to a lot of the shops around here, I’m really enjoying actually just being based in East Village, Signorelli’s next door is really handy they’ve got beautiful coffee and cakes which we’re extremely partial to but also Mother Kelly’s for a drink after work is really nice, the restaurants are really cool… Actually it’s a really nice kind of environment to be working in.
Plans for the future?
We’re going to focus on expanding our product suite so that we can have more and more products in refillable solutions and in low waste solutions for customers on an everyday basis, then we want to add out online and local delivery model and develop a click and collect model.
Any upcoming events at Refill Therapy?
Probably be around some of the awareness days like Plastic Free July, there’s Organic September, there’s kind of a bunch of things like that where we’ll try and curate events.