22, April 2022
INDIE SPOTLIGHT: THE VILLAGE REFILL
Welcome back to our Indie Spotlight series, where we get to celebrate the independent stores that make our world go round. This month we had the chance to catch up with our wonderful Oxfordshire stockists, The Village Refill, founded in 2020 by like-minded friends Maya and Krystina. Doorstep by doorstep, bottle by bottle, this zero-waste refill service (and store) is encouraging their community to say no to single-use – something we can certainly get behind.
What inspired you to start The Village Refill and how long have you been up and running?
We wanted to help households make greener choices when purchasing everyday household essentials.
Having shopped at zero-waste stores ourselves we realised that convenience was a big issue for many.
Greenwashing is also something we were hugely aware of, and we wanted to navigate the minefield of claims and source products we trusted in. Basically, we wanted to take the hassle out of zero-waste.
We started with what we were familiar with and offered a simple convenient doorstep service to the villages that surrounded us in a repurposed electric utility van.
The Village Refill was born during the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 and our first zero-waste store opened in August 2021.
What does a typical week look like for you? How do your doorstep refills work?
Our shop is open 7 days a week and we now have a team of refill heroes helping our customers on their zero-waste journeys.
A typical week is broken up by our weekly doorstep service to the villages and Oxford City. The service is simple – our customers place an order online, leave out their empty bottles/containers and we refill them and take away any empties.
Our product range has now expanded to larder foods, eco swaps and refillable beauty.
What is the most rewarding part of running your business?
Positive customer feedback is no doubt the most rewarding part of running The Village Refill.
We love to engage with our customers and guide them on their zero-waste journeys – some are now volunteers passing on their personal knowledge to new customers in our shop. Our customers are the soul of The Village Refill and without them it wouldn’t be what it is today.
Tell us about some of your challenges, either in the past or at present.
Our biggest challenge was getting our customers to understand what was then a unique service, and many new customers simply didn’t understand how our doorstep refills worked.
It really was and still is a very simple service – no subscriptions, memberships etc. It’s similar to an everyday milk round – but not with milk!
How have you seen attitudes change in recent years? Are more people open to the idea of closed loop?
Definitely – even more so since lockdown.
People started exploring beyond their home and workplace and appreciated the nature that surrounded them. Combined with the national news broadcasting about climate change and people seeing for themselves the damaging effect of plastic waste on our environment.
It is now a well known fact that the plastic recycling system isn’t working. More and more people want to shop without plastic, and without packaging altogether. Our customers love the fact they can use their own containers – we always say “the best container is the one you’ve already got.”
Other than refills, what is one simple sustainable swap you think more people should adopt?
Simply buying less. I know that isn’t what we should be advocating as a zero-waste shop that relies on an income – but we all consume far too much. Shopping at a zero waste store means you can buy just what you need.
Buy just what you need, and buy sustainably, be it a dishcloth that can be composted at the end of its life, or wool tumble-dryer balls that save 25% of electricity.
Oxfordshire is a beautiful place – what are your favourite local spots?
We love the Cotswold villages – which makes delivering to them a joy! I don’t think there’s a favourite local spot – too much beauty to be able to choose one!
What are you looking forward to in the future?
We are looking forward to zero-waste shopping becoming mainstream.
We simply want to leave a better planet for our children – which is ultimately our basic motivation as mothers.
Follow The Village Refill on Instagram and if you're based in Oxford, get your Faith In Nature favourites refilled on your doorstep.
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