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Since opening last Halloween, Brittney LaGesse has helped transform sustainability from a trend into a lifestyle. Her Boulder store, online shop, and Instagram account—Refill Revolution—specializes in bulk refills, reusable products, and sustainable ways of living in hopes of reducing waste.
A few years back, LaGesse realized she could be doing more to be sustainable after she started following different accounts on Instagram that promoted a zero-waste lifestyle. “I was like ‘Oh my gosh,’” LaGesse says, “I was living a natural lifestyle, but I had totally overlooked waste.”
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“I started making small changes and working toward transitioning my lifestyle over to producing less waste,” LaGesse says. In the summer of 2017, LaGesse started her Instagram account, @therefillrevolution, which features helpful tips on living sustainably and different plastic-free products. In June 2017, she began hosting pop-up shows and setting up at street fairs in Louisville to not only get the word out about Refill Revolution, but also evaluate how people would respond to her idea. Four months later, LaGesse opened a storefront on Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder.
The brick-and-mortar, which features the same products as the online shop, allows customers to bring in their reusable containers and fill them with environmentally friendly household cleaners, dish soap, laundry powder, shampoo, shower gel, and lotion. LaGesse also sells products by bulk, so you can do the refilling at home.
Additionally, Refill Revolutions features natural deodorant, cotton soap bags, bamboo toothbrushes, essential oils, and other kitchen and bath essentials. Every single product is sustainably packaged and can replace a single-use, disposable item. Although the shop doesn’t currently sell food—except for local honey—LaGesse is in the early stages of planning to expand into this area, making Refill Revolution a one-stop-shop for locals.
After observing all the plastic packaging in grocery stores, LaGesse really saw a need for a store like this in Boulder. “Looking around, people are eating healthy foods,” she says. “They go to the grocery store and they get their organic spinach, but they’re not thinking about the packaging that it’s coming in. I never did.” According to LaGesse, buying groceries and dining out is all about convenience. Apart from reusable products and bulk refills, Refill Revolution aims to educate the community about the big and small steps they can make to reduce single-use plastic and the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
In 2017, the City of Boulder sent 49 percent of its waste to the landfill (compared to Denver which sent 80 percent of its waste to the landfill). LaGesse believes Refill Revolution played a small part in the remaining 51 percent that was composted or recycled. “I know we definitely didn’t do the majority of that,” she says, “but we all do our part.”
Three Easy Ways To Be Sustainable
These recommendations from LaGesse will not only reduce waste, but also save you money.
1. Food Wraps
Beeswax wraps come in multiple sizes and are reusable, washable, and biodegradable. According to LaGesse, they are a great alternative to plastic, single-use sandwich bags. Refill Revolution also features vegan, plant-based sandwich wraps made from a hemp-cotton blend. Beeswax wraps start at $10, vegan wraps start at $13
Although convenient, paper towels aren’t sustainable. An alternative, energy-efficient option are these single-ply, reusable, washable cloths that replace single-use, disposable paper towels. Starts at $16
Instead of grabbing plastic utensils when ordering food to-go, purchase this reusable, bamboo utensil set made from RPET (recycled PET, made from recycled plastic water bottles). “These are really handy because they are lightweight,” LaGesse says. “The ones I have come in a pouch with a clip, so I just clip it on my bag and always have it with me.” $12.25