The Hampshire Refillery on how to start zero waste shopping

The Hampshire Refillery van

The Hampshire Refillery will fill up your empty bottles, as well as delivering a range of eco-friendly products - Credit: The Hampshire Refillery

With the threats to our planet’s environment ever increasing, it is becoming even more pressing to do our bit for the world. The Hampshire Refillery’s Natalie Heys tells us more about how her business is helping people on their zero waste journey...  

Watching David Attenborough’s programmes, we have all sat in our living rooms feeling shocked at how pollution is affecting wildlife - Natalie Heys included. Instead of being a bystander, she decided to do something that would make a difference. ‘His shows really brought to life the impact of our behaviour. I just was becoming more and more aware about not only plastic waste, but vehicle emissions, climate change and rising temperatures,’ Natalie says.

‘I've always lived by the water and just seeing more and more rubbish in the sea and rivers in the south Hampshire area was heart breaking.’ After her dad’s sudden passing, Natalie evaluated what she wanted to do in life to better the world, and decided setting up a refillery company in the area would be a great way to do that.

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The Hampshire Refillery started as a pop-up shop, but with coronavirus transitioned to a delivery service. You can simply place an order on the website, then when the company is in the area, you’ll be notified so you can leave your containers outside to be filled up.

The business also collects aluminium foil for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, and corks for a midlands-based company. The response so far has blown Natalie away. ‘The support from the customers – the refillerers I call them – has been amazing, as they’re always ready to spread awareness of what we do and suggest ideas for us to advertise, such as helping litter pick in the area.’

She continues: ‘It’s been amazing bringing together this group of like-minded people – nobody's on the same exact journey, because we different lifestyles. What one person can do in terms of a zero waste lifestyle, another person might not be able to. But we’re all connected by this wanting to do better.’

The Hampshire Refillery pop up shop

Bamboo straws, paper tape, soaps and more are available at The Hampshire Refillery - Credit: The Hampshire Refillery

Natalie is keen to stress that The Hampshire Refillery is very welcoming to everyone, no matter where they are on their zero waste journey. She says: ‘Our strapline is making zero waste shopping accessible, as we want everyone to feel like they can get involved. This is a values-driven operation, so we’ll get the pom-poms out if you’re still buying fizzy pop bottles but refilling others, or if you’re going to other zero waste shops in the area.’

The rewards from shopping zero waste range from environmental progress to even a personal sense of achievement. ‘Physically you can see the amount of waste in your household decrease when you take out your bins for the week. Refilling your bottles has a better effect on the environment than recycling them too, as plastics aren’t as easily broken down as a material like glass,’ Natalie says.

‘Setting an example to your kids is also really lovely too – we’ve had parents say that their children have come back from school worrying about the environment, but they’ve been able to show them how they’re making a difference by using The Hampshire Refillery.’

There are a host of different products on The Hampshire Refillery’s website, such as cereals, beeswax and cleaning products, but there’s one which Natalie particularly likes using the most. ‘We sell a rainbow of different coloured wrapping paper that’s just paper, rather than having plastic and glitter on it. We also sell coloured twine and paper tape.

'Wrapping presents up with them is brilliant as they look traditional and cute, but also quite eye-catching and funky – plus if you take care of the paper you can re-use it again.’ She’s also a fan of the peppercorn-scented washing up liquid, which she says is kind on the skin and also smells amazing.

READ MORE: The people behind Hampshire's zero waste movement

If you’re reading this and wondering how you can start shopping zero waste, Natalie has some great tips for you. ‘Type into any search engine zero waste shops near you, and lots of zero waste directories will come up – and it’s not always zero waste shops, but farm shops and health shops have refill options too.’

She continues, ‘Go in with an open mind – just say to the shopkeeper that you’re new to this, and they’ll be so pleased and grateful so will definitely help guide you along. Also bear in mind you won’t always be able to do like for like products – for example beeswax is more expensive than clingfilm rolls, but it will last you way more years.’ She also recommends starting with a product like body wash and washing up liquid, as they get used frequently in the house, so you’ll be able to tell quickly if your household enjoy the product.

Natalie finishes by encouraging those thinking about making a change to think positively about the experience. ‘Don’t see it as a chore – see it as empowerment that you’re aware of changes you need to make, and that you’re empowered to make them to better yourself, your family’s lives, and the environment. Enjoy the ride and the fact that you’re one of the many people realising how easy and fulfilling this can be.’

Other eco-friendly shops in Hampshire

Eco Freaks Waste Emporium in Gosport
As well as all your cupboard essentials, you can buy fresh veggies, fudge, cakes and more.

The Naked Pantry in New Milton
Its motto is tasteful not wasteful, and offers freshly baked goods, jams and chutneys, and drinks.

Fleet Scoop in Fleet
This community-spirited shop offers tea and coffee, spices, oils and vinegars alongside pantry goods. 

All Good Things in Fareham
It has a huge choice of pantry products and bodycare products, so you can shop without restriction.

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