The idea of refilling is fairly straightforward. Step one: Bring a container. Step Two: fill the container. Step three: repeat steps one and two. Doing this and this alone keeps THOUSANDS of containers out of the waste stream every day and we love being a part of this process. With that being said, I've been in the business of refilling containers for almost a decade now and I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I'd like to share today that make refilling a bit simpler. A little refill "Savoir-Faire" if you will. 

Before I begin my list I want to preface by saying these aren't "rules" for refilling. We are a come-as-you-are refill space and that means if you want to come in and fill a bunch of tube socks with rice and beans, (Yes that actually happened) we're here for it.  And we love the creativity. If these tips make sense for you, right on. If they aren't your vibe? move along my fair fellow, live long and prosper. 

1. Pack Light. It's no secret that we love to fill jars, (It literally says so on our windows) but sometimes when you are refilling your whole pantry, jars can be heavy to transport and bulky too. If you plan to refill a multitude of items, bring lightweight containers that wont weigh you down. Some of our customers bring old takeout soup containers, some bring old tupperware. I also recommend treating yourself to some various sized cotton produce bags. These bags are lightweight, hold almost any dry good with the exception of flour and spices, and can be stuffed in various nooks and crannies of purses and backpacks for a random refill here and there. We of course sell them in-store and I find I use my produce bags more for dry goods like rice and coffee beans than I ever use them for produce. Moral of the story: if you have a lot to refill, pack light.

2. This one goes without saying but I'm going to say it anyway. Bring a bag. or a box. Or a basket. Or a wagon if you're going big. We carry a wide variety of practical items at the shop and quite often customers leave with more than they planned. Bring a bag in case you grab a few more things than you expected. (Side note: we usually have donated paper bags and extra hands to help carry items but we're talking refill lifeskills here so this is a big one)

3. Your container doesn't have to be empty to refill! That's right, if you are running low on dish soap and headed our way, bring the inch of dish soap with you! We'll weigh your container with the dish soap and fill your bottle the rest of the way. You will only pay for the liquid that was ADDED because we weighed the jar before we filled it. Better to bring the bottle with a little in it than run out before you can get back! 

4. Speaking of liquid refills. When you bring your olive oil bottle, leave the little drip spout at home. I've spilled many a drop of olive oil because I thought I could refill through the tiny drip spout. 

5. If you bring a container with a tiny opening (i.e spice jars, cosmetic bottles etc.) we have a funnel for that. We even have a funnel for not so tiny openings. Don't hesitate to ask for a funnel, you're a refill champion, you've got this! 

One final thought before we part isn't really a tip, it's more of a credo at Marilla's: We don't cry over spilled milk. ...or beans...or rice...or shampoo....or olive oil...or laundry powder. The point is, if it's in our store, we've spilled it before, so don't let the possibility of a slip up or spill stop you from jumping on the refill train!

BONUS TIP: If at all possible, consider refilling TWO bottles of shampoo, or TWO jars of deodorant or TWO tins of toothpaste tablets. I find personally it's incredibly handy to have a full bottle ready when the first one is empty because then I have PLENTY OF TIME to forget to refill my container while I still have a bottle at home. It's a nice refill rhythm to get into but if you get two containers and forget to refill them until they are both thoroughly empty like me, welcome to the club. I will always admit I don't always succeed in practicing what I preach.


Refilling brings me so much joy and I can't even count how many containers we have kept from the landfill since we opened our doors. Each time someone brings in an old oatmeal container or an intricate jar they just found, we celebrate because that's one less piece of trash headed to the landfill or recycling center and one more person making a low waste sustainable choice to shop at Marilla's Mindful Supplies!

various glass jars filled with dry goods and oils

Thus concludes our first list of refill tips, if you liked it let us know, if you want more, give us a holler, and if you have questions you can always find us at @marillasgeneva, or marilla's mindful supplies!


See you at the shop!



Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.