Reduce, Reuse, REFILL!
Gena Money used to recycle so faithfully that she filled two recycle bins and half a trash can. At some point, however, she realized that she was still generating a lot of unneeded packaging. How could she reduce her recyclables as well?
Julie Chamberlain grew up with parents who were mindful about repurposing household items. Julie continued the tradition, even choosing to shop at second-hand stores. She was later immersed into her in-law’s “granola and essential oils” lifestyle. As a teacher, Julie wanted to teach others to live a healthy life.
Then, Gena and Julie met on an airplane ride.
They quickly realized that they had the same core values. Because both had family members struggling with food sensitivities, eating “clean” and using non-chemical products was a priority. Gena and Julie remained in touch off and on, building a friendship.
“I lost my job, so my daughter sent me a video about a store focused on non-toxic living,” Julie said. “She told me, ‘Mom, you should open a store like this.’ I liked the idea and shared it with Gena.” The concept went beyond organic food or locally-sourced products to also include the elimination of packaging and teaching others to reduce their chemical intake. “I didn’t know such a store existed!” Gena said. “The way I was already living could be accessible and affordable to others!”
Bring a Jar, Take a Jar
Gena and Julie began brainstorming. They wondered: How many jars of spaghetti sauce are we buying each month? What if those jars could be filled with other things instead of being recycled? What if you could go to the store with your clean spaghetti jar and refill it with laundry soap or salt?
Then they wondered about finding bulk products and natural products made in America. Or better yet, Edmond. Could they truly open a store with a reduced carbon footprint?
In September, they made the dream a reality when they opened Bulk Refillery, a name dreamed up by Gena. One section of the store has large pump bottles of detergents and hand soaps. Another section has bulk spices and toothpaste tablets (yes, toothpaste tubes can be eliminated too). There is a “cut your own soap” table, plus, various organic products and sustainable household items.
“If you’d told us natural deodorant would be our best seller, I’d have said you were crazy,” Julie said with a laugh. “And garbage disposal bombs.”
The most unique aspect of Bulk Refillery, however, is the “Bring a Jar, Take a Jar” community shelf. Any customer can bring in spare, clean, glass jars for other customers to use. Customers weigh a jar before filling it with product, and that weight is subtracted from the total weight at check-out.
A Bulk Following
Bulk Refillery carries local kombucha, honey, and according to Gena, the only certified organic elderberry syrup in Oklahoma. The store also offers composting and classes on topics ranging from gardening to sourdough bread-making.
Gena and Julie quickly gained a following of customers seeking to live a cleaner life. They chat with nearly every customer about their individual journeys. “Most people
who come in the door share our passion for changing the environment,” Julie said.
“People can feel overwhelmed, but we suggest that they just change one thing at a time,” Gena said. “Just replace expired seasonings or fill a jar with soap. I love it when people bring their old containers and refill them. I clap my hands like a giddy two-year-old because that’s why we’re here!”
Visit them at 239 S. Coltrane Rd., Edmond or go to BulkRefillery.com to learn more.