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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

The Refill Station Solution

Customers bring their own containers to The Refill Station to buy cleaning and personal care products in bulk. Other eco-friendly products are offered all with the goal of minimizing waste. Photos courtesy of The Refill Station in Portsmouth, NH.

George Harvey

Jessica Blasko is an experienced physical therapist who has had a lifelong love of nature and takes pleasure in traveling to beautiful places. She had an experience that started her thinking about doing things differently, however, when she and her husband went to a beach in Hawaii several years ago. There, they made the shocking discovery that much of what they saw in the sand was tiny pieces of plastic. That beautiful place was being choked with waste.

The issue came home to her even more when their family grew with the addition of two small children. Worried about their futures, the Blaskos decided to do something about the state of the planet. They became part of the Refill Movement, starting up the Refill Station in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. There, they provide people with a way to buy some of the things they need in bulk, filling their own containers, rather than taking them in throw-away plastic containers that add to the waste problem.

The Refill Movement has a fairly simple concept. Customers bring their own containers for bulk items, fill them, and pay for the amount they buy. Containers are reused, eliminating waste from the containers. Since the greatest amount of that waste is plastic, this reduces the plastic in our environment.

The bulk products include a number of cleaning products, such as laundry soap and dish detergent. There are personal care products, such as lotion and shampoo. A customer can buy hand sanitizer in bulk. Additionally, there are some dry products, including laundry powder and oxygen brightener.

There is a wide variety of other items on the shelves at the Refill Station. They are all chosen with care to make sure that they reduce waste, especially plastic waste. Among them jars and bottles, bags and brushes. There is toothpaste, and there are soap drainers. If you want a rack for drying clothes, the Refill Station is a place where you can choose from several designs.

Jessica Blasko points out that the Refill Station in Portsmouth is just one store in a movement. She mentioned a number of nearby stores. Two are in Kittery and South Portland, Maine. She mentioned one in Concord, New Hampshire, and another in Newburyport, Massachusetts. She noted other examples and said that she hopes Refill Stations will start up just about anywhere people go to shop.

Starting a business to sell to customers is not easy with a pandemic going on. There are special provisions to reduce risk of infection. A customer can drop off containers to be filled and do a curbside pickup later, for example. Products can also be delivered to customers, and this is free to places within seven miles, provided that the purchase comes to $20 or more. And products can be shipped.

Because of the pandemic, the store is only open three days each week. There is a hope that the pandemic will ease in the not-so-distant future, and the store will soon be open more often.

The website for the Refill Station in Portsmouth is worth a visit. It is at

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