TNM: Sage Refill Market just opened recently! Tell us a little about the mission of your shop?
SRM: The idea for our low-waste refill shop was born out of a desire to provide our community (and our own family!) with more options to reduce single-use plastics. Shopping for sustainably packaged and eco-friendly products is often overwhelming and confusing. We hope that we can help our community on their journey towards making less plastic waste, and have some fun along the way!
TNM: What inspired you to open Sage Refill Market?
SRM: There is plastic is almost everything we touch these days. And it’s not just the obvious plastic, like water bottles. It has become such a part of our daily experience that we don’t even notice some of it. Take a look in your kitchen and bathroom, and note how many of the everyday items you use are single-use plastic. While convenient, the amount of plastic pollution we are creating is enormous, and our planet is paying the price. Less than 9% of our plastic is actually recycled, so this is a problem that we can’t “recycle” our way out of. We have to come together to find new, more sustainable ways, to shop.
TNM: What can readers expect to find in your shop?
SRM: A good amount of our personal care and household products are sold in bulk, which means you can bring a container from home (or purchase one from us) and refill it over and over with whatever you need. We honestly love when people bring their old used plastic shampoo or laundry detergent containers in to fill up because it is one less piece of plastic going into the recycling bin (and crossing your fingers that it is ACTUALLY recycled)! We also have lots of great options that are not in bulk, but are sold in sustainably packaged containers – glass, aluminum, cardboard – and eco-friendly products like beeswax wraps and silicone bags that replace plastic wraps and baggies. We also have items that make great gifts, from locally made candles to locally grown plants and flowers.
TNM: What are some things that people may be surprised to learn about being more conscious of waste and reusing materials?
SRM: Reducing the amount of plastic waste we create can feel daunting, and hard. But despite the overwhelming amount of plastic in our lives, there are lots of wonderful and sustainable swaps to make that are super easy. And it is actually so much more affordable than people realize. Some of the items may have a higher initial cost – for instance our stainless steel safety razors – but ultimately they save you lots of money down the road because you don’t have to constantly replace these items – they will last for years and years. Some items actually end up a bit less expensive – for example our laundry pods are a bit less per wash than Tide pods. And then we have items like our Swedish dishcloths, that cost under $7 yet replace 17 rolls of paper towels (personally we think that’s an underestimate because we have been using ours for over 4 months now and it still seems brand new!). And you just toss them into the compost when they are at the end of their life.
TNM: Can you share a few tips to get people started on using less waste and using more sustainable materials?
SRM: There are so many great resources out there now to help people on their journey to making less waste, but here are a few quick tips. Look in your trash and recycle bins and note what you are throwing away. Or make a list of all the items you touch in a day – from your breakfast to your shower to cleaning – and see how many of these have plastic in them. This provides a good starting point for items that you might be able to replace.
Learn to say no to single use plastics like straws, utensils and bags. That feels much harder right now during the pandemic, but it can still be done. For example if your grocery isn’t allowing reusable bags, ask for them to put your items in your cart and bag them at your car with your own bags.
Buy used when possible. Whether it’s used clothing, or used furniture, it is always a good option to “upcycle” something rather than buying new if you can.
Do one thing at time. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed, so pick something that feels like it is the easiest swap to make, and start there, and then try something new next time.
Be kind to yourself! These are difficult times, and we are all doing the best that we can. Even replacing just one item is step in the right direction, and if we were all doing it, think about the impact it would have on our planet.
TNM: Anything else to add?
SRM: We opened on May 1, in the midst of a pandemic when literally everything around us was closed. Obviously this wasn’t a great time to open a business, but we were able to pivot and put our inventory online for curbside pick up and local delivery. Because of the bulk nature of many of our products, we had not anticipated having to sell anything online, so this was quite an experience, and we learned a lot! But we are grateful we were able to open in this way, and we were encouraged by all the early support we received. Many of those initial customers are now “regulars” who come in the store every couple of weeks. We love that in such a short time we have already helped so many make easy and sustainable swaps, and we look forward to being a helpful resource for many more!
For more information, visit Sage Refill Market
1214 Wedgewood Avenue Nashville, TN 37212