Jacquie Rushlow woke up one morning, January 20th 2020 to be exact, and decided she had had enough.
She had been learning about how little of our plastic waste is actually being recycled. As well she was frustrated at attempts to find plastic-free alternatives in her area. Ordering eco-friendly items online felt like one step forward and 10 steps back when you factored in the carbon footprint of shipping and then magnified that by all the the individuals doing the same.
“I decided then and there that it was time to take this issue on” says the former Television Producer.
“In my former life I was a Factual TV Producer” Jacquie explains. Factual television is a genre of non-fiction television programming that documents actual events and people. Jacquie worked on shows like The Amazing Race, Netflix’s Restaurants on the Edge, and more recently in the Arctic for CBC’s Arctic Vets.
Jacquie’s husband and Refillery co-founder Andrew had his own TV career as a Director. The pair tapped into their broad skills plus personal experiences with reducing plastics in their own lives and launched themselves on a mission to change the way people consume.
On March 1st 2020 they opened a Refillery in a 200 square foot shed in Creemore. Ten days later the world was turned upside down. However, their determination did not wane and before long the walls of the little shed were transcended.
On July 1st that year they opened The Keep Refillery on the Main Street of Creemore. In May 2021 they opened in Meaford and in December 2021 in Kingston.
“As well, we have just taken on investors to help with our growth plan. They are Christine Day (former CEO of Lulu Lemon), Nicole Vollebregt (Former Head of Global Purpose at Adidas), and Paul Hollands (former CEO of A+W)” says Jacquie.
“It quickly became obvious to us that this is a necessity. All communities need this and all communities have the power to take charge of their future and come together to protect the place they call home.”
How does The Refillery work?
“The idea is rooted in you never throwing away another plastic container” Jacquie says simply. “For example, you have your old laundry jug or your old dish soap container. Instead of using it and throwing it away you simply bring it into The Refillery. We weigh it, fill it with products that are Canadian made, biodegradable, all natural and plant based, cruelty free and micro-plastic free, and you pay for just what’s inside!”
When it’s time for The Refillery to restock Jacquie says they exclusively work with suppliers that are responsible for their waste. This means the large plastic jugs that they utilize are cleaned, refilled by their supplier, and returned to them on the next run.
What brands do you carry?
Nearly 80% of our suppliers are woman owned and Canadian run businesses.
Most our refillable cleaning products such as laundry soap, bathroom cleaner, toilet cleaner, stain remover, hand soap, dish soap, fabric softener, cooktop cleaner, surface sanitizer and so on, are from a Quebec based brand called PURE.
For shampoo and conditioner bars we have Jack59, an indigenous brand based out of Edmonton. A lot of our hair care, body wash, lotion is from a Quebec based brand called Oneka
We support many local brands like Meaford’s own Penny Lane Organics’ Castile soap in 3 scents, room spray in 2 scents, body scrub, face mist, essential oils and face cream. We discovered her while running our Creemore shop and now she’s in all our refilleries and will continue to be!
For soaps, serums and foot scrubs we have a woman named Allison from Juji Skin based out of London.
We have face scrubs, mouthwash, and shave bars from a woman-operated business out of Bon Echo called Birch Babe.
We have our own line for candles, deodorant, bath-bombs, bath milks and dry shampoo.A sister owned company provides us with our refillable deodorant called Routine.
Our toothpaste comes from Nelson Naturals based out of BC and from Rose Citron based out of Quebec. And the list goes on…
What about online ordering for pick-up?
“We are working on an online store so people can order and pick up from the location they prefer. So as you can imagine setting up inventory systems is a whole thing!
Refilling online is next to impossible of course so we have found a way around that. We’ve brought on a woman-owned, Quebec based brand called Filo. They supply cleaning tablets where you put the tab in your spray bottle, fill with water and let it dissolve. They’re fantastic. Easy to ship should we need to and work so well. We have a similar option for laundry detergent. It’s called TruEarth, another Canadian company that’s killing it! They are laundry strips that are a concentrated strip of laundry detergent. Add to your washing machine and off you go.”
Speaking with Jessica Kenyon, Manager, The Keep Refillery Meaford
“The Keep Refillery Meaford has become a regular spot for locals and so many people from surrounding communities” says Jessica. “It’s incredible to be a part of something that is making a difference in plastic waste and the way people consume. The happiness The Keep Refillery brings to people making sustainable changes for the better is so positive. People are craving positivity and change. The Keep Refillery is such a positive place and it ignites change in people. It’s such a rewarding role to be a part of knowing we are making a difference and influencing change. it’s a vibe. I am so proud to be from Meaford and to share this with my community.”
The Bottom Line
“We believe in ridding the world of single-use plastics one community at a time. We are on a mission to change the way people consume. This is the only way forward. We need to stop being a part of the problem and become a part of the solution. We plan on expanding our corporate locations with hopes of franchising at the end of this year.
We want to empower each and every one of them to take matters into their own hands and rally for change! A refillery in a community should be as important as the grocery store or post office. We all need one!”