Make Simple Changes to Drastically Cut Waste Generated in Your Kitchen

Make Simple Changes to Drastically Cut Waste Generated in Your Kitchen

Put Eco-friendly Alternatives to Work for You to Cut Waste in Your Kitchen.

Do you find yourself pulling several paper towels off the roll for every mess? How about reaching for single-use plastics like water bottles and plastic wrap more often than not? Is your trash overflowing with smelly food scraps? You’re not alone. Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce the amount of waste in your kitchen.

Explore the Eco-Friendly Alternatives. 

Did you know that the average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees? This amounts to about two billion trees per year, according to data from Middle Georgia University. The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year would be enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years.

Paper towels are a huge source of unnecessary waste that falls into that category. Americans use 13 billion pounds of paper towels a year, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It’s not surprising when you consider families go through an average of nearly two rolls a week. A whopping 110 million trees are downed annually to produce paper towels alone.

Thankfully, there are many eco-friendly alternatives to help clean up messes in the kitchen and beyond.

Cloth towel rolls, often made of flannel or cotton to easily stick together and include a simple stitch along the edges to prevent fraying, are super easy to make for the novice seamstress. If sewing isn’t your thing, we recommend the ones pictured here from Cheeks Ahoy.  A quick search on Etsy can deliver plenty of variations to choose from – plus, you’re supporting a small business!  

Cheeks Ahoy Unpaper Towels
Swedish Dishcloths have taken the sustainability world by storm.

By adding a few of these absorbent little squares to my kitchen, I’ve been able to nearly cut paper towels out of my life. They are super absorbent, compact to store, and easy to keep clean for everyday use. 

“Invented by a Swedish engineer in 1949, the rags are made of 100 percent naturally biodegradable cellulose or a combination of wood pulp and renewable cotton,” writer Ashlea Halpern noted. “They are superabsorbent, able to soak up 20 times their own weight in liquid. They are soft and pliable when wet but dry quickly in between uses.”

Looking for a cheap and simple solution to replace old paper towels? Cut your old bath towels and cotton t-shirts into squares. Not only will you be giving this fabric a second life, but well-used cotton is ultra absorbent! This is a completely cost-free solution you can implement immediately. 

Still not sure if this Joyful Change will make an impact? Think again. If each American household swapped just one roll of paper towels for a recycled version, nearly 54,000 trees could be saved each year!

Plastic wrap is another culprit for unnecessary trash in the kitchen.

That sticky, flimsy plastic cannot be recycled because it contains PVC. Considering that 5.3 million Americans used ten or more rolls of plastic wrap in 2020 alone, landfills are filling up fast. When sent to the dump, plastic cling film can take about 450 years to decompose. That’s where beeswax wraps can save the day. Instead of breaking out the roll of harmful, single-use plastic, invest in a few different sizes of beeswax wraps – fabric squares, often organic cotton, coated in naturally produced beeswax that you can rinse off and use over and over again. 

Speaking of flimsy plastic, we all know how intrusive plastic grocery store bags have become in the environment.

Make the switch to a canvas tote or foldable tote bag instead. Stash one in your car, purse, or backpack so you always have one available for those spur-of-the-moment stops at the local grocery store or farmer’s market. Do you have some flimsy bags tucked in a drawer at home? Do some research on where you can take these to recycle since most curbside recycling can’t utilize them. A lot of grocery stores have drop-off bins available for these items.

Canvas Tote Bags
Do you find yourself packing plastic water bottles and single-use cutlery into your family’s lunches?

These items are notorious for overloading landfills and aren’t easily recycled. Instead, opt for a water filtration system and encourage reusable water bottles in your household. Filtration systems give you that same fresh taste, and reusable bottles will often keep water cold for much longer. To cut down on single-use cutlery, try substituting a washable set, like the pouch sets we have available in our eco-store.              

Give Composting a Try.

We’re all trying our best to combat the food waste problem. However, we inevitably end up with bits and pieces of food that get tossed into the trash can – potato peels, coffee grounds, or the moldy cucumber that never made it to our lunchtime salad. Before you toss this waste into the trash can, consider composting it. 

What exactly is composting? According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, composting entails the following:

“A controlled, aerobic (oxygen-required) process that converts organic materials into a nutrient-rich soil amendment or mulch through natural decomposition. The end product is compost – a dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling material. Microorganisms feed on the materials added to the compost pile during the composting process. They use carbon and nitrogen to grow and reproduce, water to digest materials, and oxygen to breathe.”

By composting anything from kitchen scraps to yard trimmings, you are implementing a resourceful habit of managing waste in a more sustainable way. All you need to get started is a compost bin in your kitchen. In no time, you’ll be able to generate free, high-quality soil for your houseplants or garden.

If you have space to set up a compost pit in your backyard, be sure to allow for enough room to turn over your compost regularly for even decomposition. If you live in an urban area, check out our map of curated composting services nationwide to get started.  

Composting is an easy and rewarding sustainable practice; you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner!

Pro Tip: Add some earthworms to your compost pit, “Vermicomposting,” to help speed up the decomposition process!

Save electricity in your kitchen.

In the market for a new kitchen appliance? Look for the blue “Energy Star” designation for energy-efficient models. The United States Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency has even teamed up to create a free online resource to search for efficient models. 

If your refrigerator is over 15 years old, consider looking for a new one. It’s likely using twice the amount of energy than a new Energy Star certified model! Make sure to recycle your old one, too; by properly recycling your old refrigerator and replacing it with a new Energy Star-certified version, you can save more than $260 over the 12-year lifetime of the product. 

Dishwashers are another appliance worth upgrading in your kitchen. A standard-sized Energy Star certified dishwasher costs about $35 per year to run and can save you about 3,800 gallons of water over its lifetime. 

In 2020 alone, Energy Star certified appliances helped save more than 520 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and avoid $42 billion in energy costs. These savings resulted in associated emission reductions of more than 400 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses, roughly equivalent to more than 5% of U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions. 

Food production constitutes 8-16% of the total national energy consumption in the US, according to the Yale Environmental Review. Cooking accounts for 20% of consumers’ energy use. Refrigeration and dishwashing evenly split the remaining energy demand.

Is a gas or electric oven more efficient? The typical gas stove in America is only 40% efficient, whereas its electric counterpart is 80%, according to a 2013 study, “Review Energy consumption during cooking in the residential sector of developed nations: A review.  However, when you take a more holistic view of how each form of energy is generated, researchers determined that electric stoves powered with gas are the more efficient choice by approximately 20%. 

Cooking methods can affect the amount of energy we use in the kitchen. Curious as to whether specialty appliances, like rice cookers and electric kettles, are more efficient? Most studies determined that these specialty appliances are more efficient than ovens and stovetops.

“The microwave showed trends that were less clear, but seems to emerge victorious for small portions and foods with short cook times,” the Yale Environmental Review reported.  

Simple practices, such as cooking in large batches, putting a lid on a pot during cooking, and cooking food in full pots, are easy habits that can make a big difference in cutting energy waste in the kitchen.

The Energy Saving Trust recommends a few additional tips to implement when preparing meals:

  • Only use as much water as you need – boiling extra takes more time and energy.
  • Always cover your pots and pans – the water will boil faster and use less energy to heat your food.
  • Turn off the heat a couple of minutes before your food is fully cooked – particularly if you’ve got an electric hob, as they take some time to cool down and will continue to cook your food.
  • Don’t open the oven door repeatedly – you’ll let out hot air and waste energy. If you can, take a look through the glass door instead.

These tips are just a few simple ways your family can contribute to creating a more sustainable space. With a room as versatile as the kitchen, the possibilities are truly endless. Be sure to track and measure your efforts to reduce waste in your kitchen. Get the One Planet Life app and select the Reduce Waste Journey.

Written by Carley Kimball

Written by Carley Kimball

Freelance Journalist and OPL Content Contributor

“I’ve always tried to implement planet-friendly practices in my life but didn’t quite realize just how much of an impact individuals can make until I was introduced to One Planet Life. I’m so excited to be able to utilize my professional skills to contribute valuable information and positive personal experiences to help make the world a better place.”

New Year, New You, Renewed Planet: One Planet Life Can Help You Live Sustainably

New Year, New You, Renewed Planet: One Planet Life Can Help You Live Sustainably

Resolve to Live Sustainably in 2023 and Track Joyful Changes in the One Planet Life App

New Year’s Resolutions can be tough. Establishing new habits often comes with a mountain of challenges, which can derail your goals for the upcoming year. It’s more important now than ever to shrink our collective carbon footprint and stay on track with our individual sustainability goals. The right knowledge and tools to support our efforts can make all the difference. How can we possibly stay motivated to turn new habits into regular routines when life gets busy? One Planet Life has the perfect tool for you.

The One Planet Life App, first launched last February, has grown into a wonderful community of like-minded goal-setters that support each other to make lifestyle changes that positively impact the planet.

In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, How are habits formed: Modeling habit formation in the real world, researchers found that, on average, it takes more than two months (66 days) before a new behavior becomes second nature. Setting goals, tracking progress in real-time and having a community to share tips and struggles can help habits stick.

One Planet Life helps people track their sustainability goals in a familiar way, like tracking progress on a fitness app. 

Users can set goals for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and celebrate everyday victories. With the Life Center Sustainable Living Dashboard, you can easily see just how much of an impact your Joyful Changes are making, and the pounds of CO2 emissions you are saving through each action. App users can also earn Planet Points, and stay motivated by seeing just how much of a difference their active changes make as they add up throughout the year. 

One  Planet Life App

One of the greatest aspects of the app is the community within it. Users communicate with others working through similar eco-journeys, offer tips, compete in challenges, share recipes, and more! The focused social platform makes it easy to stay motivated by sharing in each other’s sustainability goal achievements.

Knowledge is Power

The idea for One Planet Life has been over two decades in the making. Founder Lorie Buckingham was first inspired to create a platform like One Planet Life because she struggled to find accurate information about our individual impacts on the environment.

“There was an obtuseness to information and lots of dubious information to drive purchases,” she shared. “I was asking simple questions: ‘Where was this tomato grown? What chemicals were sprayed on it?’ It was almost impossible to get any information.”

One of One Planet Life’s best features is an active blog accessible online or through the app. Our team works hard to sort through the overwhelming amount of information online to bring accurate, peer-reviewed, relevant content to help our community succeed along their eco-journeys.

“The journey for information continued because knowledge is power,” Buckingham said. “Over time, I began to work to reduce my carbon footprint. Starting small, I have been decreasing it more each year. I continue to work on my journey to live a sustainable lifestyle.”

Jump into Eco-Journeys to Maximize Impact

Not sure where to start? One Planet Life has established six unique journeys that come with their own series of Joyful Changes, focusing on different types of sustainability goals. If these journeys don’t work for you, you can also customize your own path by choosing from 121 different Joyful Changes to pursue. Once you master a Joyful Change, you can then turn it into a Lifestyle Habit.


The Green Nest Journey focuses specifically on changes you can make around your home to reduce waste, energy, water, and more. Through this journey, you can make the largest impact and cut 1 ton, 1,405 lbs of carbon emissions per year.

Here are the Joyful Changes you’ll work toward:

  • Changing your thermostat one degree daily
  • Replace one incandescent lightbulb with an LED lightbulb once per quarter
  • Turn off electronics when not in use daily

CO2 Reduced: 1 ton, 1,405 lbs
Planet Points Earned: 37,550 
Duration: 12 Months

One Planet Life Green Nest Journey App Screen
One Planet Life Travel Lite Journey

This journey is perfect for the frequent traveler! It’s no secret that traveling can really add up when it comes to carbon emissions. On average, carbon emissions can total over 500 lbs per passenger, per hour of flight in a Boeing 737 or Boeing 747, Carbon Independent estimates. Choosing first class adds even more emissions, according to a 2020 study by the International Council on Clean Transportation. 

Through this journey, your goals can add up to saving 1 ton, 492 lbs of carbon emissions per year. However, by implementing additional changes, like choosing drivable travel destinations and dropping flights altogether, you can make an even larger impact! 

Here’s a sneak peek of the Joyful Changes you’ll work toward: 

  • Downshift from a flight to a drive for your next vacation
  • Bring reusable containers on your trip
  • Dine at a local restaurant on your trip

CO2 Reduced: 1 ton, 492 lbs
Planet Points Earned: 23,560 
Duration: 12 Months


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! By giving everyday items a second life, you are cutting down on the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill. This eco-journey helps you change your mindset in everyday situations that add up quickly. You can cut 1 ton 66 lbs of carbon emissions per year through this eco-journey.

Here’s a sneak peek of the Joyful Changes you’ll work toward: 

  • Use a reusable water bottle daily
  • Use reusable shopping bags four times per month
  • Buy recycled or secondhand products

CO2 Reduced: 1 ton, 66 lbs
Planet Points Earned: 65,005 
Duration: 12 Months

One Planet Life Reduce Waste Journey
One Planet Life Plastic Be Gone Journey

We all know that plastic has become a major environmental issue. By choosing to replace single-use plastics with reusable options, carbon emission savings quickly add up! You’ll save 1,078 lbs of carbon emissions per year by choosing this eco-journey.

Here’s a sneak peek of the Joyful Changes you’ll work toward: 

  • Buy dry goods in bulk every week
  • Refuse disposable to-go items every week
  • Buy package-less produce

CO2 Reduced: 1,078 lbs
Planet Points Earned: 32,355 
Duration: 12 Months


This eco-journey is a great mix of several different types of Joyful Changes that allow you to make an impact across different aspects of your life. Cut 1,513 lbs of carbon per year off of your footprint by choosing this eco-journey.

Here’s a sneak peek of the Joyful Changes you’ll work toward: 

  • Buy in-season produce at your local farmer’s market once per quarter
  • Take a walk in nature twice per month
  • Swap paper towels for cloth napkins and dish towels daily

CO2 Reduced: 1,513 lbs
Planet Points Earned: 31,995 
Duration: 12 Months

One Planet Life Planetary Sampler Journey
One Planet Life Focus on Food Journey

Buying locally grown ingredients, eating what’s currently in season, and cutting down meat consumption are all great food-related ways to shrink your carbon footprint. Learning the ins and outs of composting can drastically cut down on the amount of waste you send to the landfill each week. In this eco-journey, you can look forward to saving 1,709 lbs of carbon emissions per year.

Here’s a sneak peek of the Joyful Changes you’ll work toward: 

  • Eat a vegetarian meal three times per week
  • Swap beef with chicken once per week
  • Start composting weekly

CO2 Reduced: 1,709 lbs
Planet Points Earned: 39,945 
Duration: 12 Months

We know New Year’s Resolutions are challenging. But with the One Planet Life App and the supportive, like-minded community that comes with it, we can help each other mold sustainability goals into habits – and save a whole lot of carbon in the process!

Struggling to stay motivated? Sign up for App Notifications!

  • Get your daily dose of inspiration from the OPL team.
  • Get a reminder to track your joyful changes.
  • Celebrate your achievements with our progress reports.
  • Get a reminder to complete your challenges.
  • We are on this journey with you. We are in this together.
  • Our entire team is committed to helping you succeed. Download the newest update or join us for the first time today. We look forward to meeting you.
Written by Carley Kimball

Written by Carley Kimball

Freelance Journalist and OPL Content Contributor

“I’ve always tried to implement planet-friendly practices in my life but didn’t quite realize just how much of an impact individuals can make until I was introduced to One Planet Life. I’m so excited to be able to utilize my professional skills to contribute valuable information and positive personal experiences to help make the world a better place.”

New Year | New You 15-Day Sustainability Kickstart Challenge

New Year | New You 15-Day Sustainability Kickstart Challenge

The second half of January is a great time to start a 15-day sustainability kickstart challenge now that the holidays are over and we are focused on the year ahead. 

Consider it a warmup to a year of joyful changes that benefit you and the planet. Lowering your impact on the planet isn’t difficult once you set your mind to it and begin to take daily action. Sometimes, the most challenging part is knowing what actions make the most difference and which of those actions are manageable within your lifestyle. That’s where we come in!

We have created a fun and accessible challenge for you. 

Over the next 15 days, January 17-31, 2023, you will reduce your carbon footprint, make fewer trips to the store, reduce waste, and save money. And, even better, when you combine your success with everyone else participating in the challenge, those sustainability wins add up!

To kick things off on Day 1, try using your reusable water bottle or coffee cup instead of single-use plastic throughout your day. Americans use and throw away up to 4 single-use beverage containers daily. If you keep up this pretty doable action, you could reduce your carbon emissions by 231 metric pounds and reduce your single-use plastic waste by 720 bottles or more this year. Now this is the type of slimming down that benefits you and the planet. Your cheering section just grew louder.

Here is the calendar of joyful changes to make during this challenge.
January 15-day Sustainability Challenge Calendar
Tracking your actions is as important as taking action.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to download our free app and use it to track your impact during this challenge. If you are already using the One Planet Life app, you can follow your current journey during this challenge and track any joyful change each day.  The goal of the challenge is to take daily action and track it to build lifelong habits toward more sustainable living,

Save the Planet from Plastic Pollution, One Refill at a Time

Save the Planet from Plastic Pollution, One Refill at a Time

‘Reduce and Reuse’ are the Real Solutions to the Planet’s Plastic Problem.

It may surprise you, but the vast majority of plastic you toss into your recycling bin each week actually ends up being dumped in a landfill. 

According to a 2022 report from Greenpeace, an international non-profit devoted to raising awareness about environmental issues, only about 5-6% of U.S. plastics were recycled last year, down from a high of 9.5% in 2014 and 8.7% in 2018. 

Considering that the world now produces more than 380 million metric tons of plastic every year, it’s easy to see how quickly waste can add up.

Single-use plastics have exploded in recent decades. In the U.S. alone, plastic waste generation has increased 263% since 1980 – from an average of 60 pounds per person per year to 218 pounds per person per year in 2018, according to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Contrary to popular belief, not one single type of plastic food service item, including the polypropylene cup lids that Starbucks touts as recyclable, has ever been able to be recycled per the FTC Green Guide legal definition, according to the 2022 report, The Real Truth About the U.S. Plastics Recycling Rate.

Toxicity risks in recycled plastic prohibit “the vast majority of plastic products and packaging produced” from being recycled into food-grade packaging, the study further explains. 

Without radical action to curb demand, increase product lifespans, and improve waste management and recyclability, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates plastic pollution to triple by 2060. 

In its report, Global Plastics Outlook: Policy Scenarios to 2060, several high-level solutions are presented to control the rising volume of plastics plaguing the environment, including:

  • Taxes on plastics and plastic packaging 
  • Incentives to reuse and repair plastic items
  • Targets for recycled content in new plastic products
  • Extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes
  • Improved waste management infrastructure
  • Increased litter collection rates

While these solutions could make a significant impact, they could take years – if not decades – to come to fruition.

But fortunately, individuals can implement changes into their everyday lives right away that can help cut down on consumption and create a future less cluttered by plastics. 


What are Single-Use Plastics?

To cut single-use plastics out of our lives for good, we must first understand how it infiltrates our habits and households. 

The National Resource Defense Council defines Single-Use Plastics as “goods that are made primarily from fossil fuel based chemicals (petrochemicals) and are meant to be disposed of right after use—often, in mere minutes. Single-use plastics are most commonly used for packaging and serviceware, such as bottles, wrappers, straws and bags.”

The popularity of single-use plastics skyrocketed in the 1970s when traditional paper or glass packaging was overwhelmingly replaced with lighter or more durable and affordable plastic alternatives. Since the 1950s, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics have been produced, half of that in the past 15 years alone.

While using a plastic fork on your lunch break may seem harmless, the total number of single-use utensils that end up in landfills each year is staggering – 40 billion plastic forks, spoons, and knives. On top of that, the U.S. alone tosses 500 million plastic straws every day, according to Habits of Waste.

5 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Consumption
How Can I Cut My Dependency on Single-Use Plastics?

Changing habits isn’t always easy. However, the team at One Planet Life shares their personal journeys on how they shifted focus to living more sustainably, hoping to offer a few tips on how to make the switch. 

Lorie Buckingham, the founder of One Planet Life, started her journey by eliminating single-use plastic from her life. 

“It was easy when going to the grocery store, as I would keep my reusable shopping bags and my reusable produce bags ready to go in my entryway closet,” she said. “I grab the set and head off to the grocery store or farmers market. I love coming home with fruit and vegetables not covered in plastic and without a pile of waste.”

Making spur-of-the-moment purchases still plagued her with waste. “The problem was solved when I started carrying a foldable, reusable bag in my purse or backpack,” she said. “Voila, I pull it out and, once again, get home with my purchase – no single-use plastic bag needed.” Shopping weekly, Buckingham estimates saving at least 600 plastic bags per year.

Switching to a reusable water bottle, on the other hand, was a bit more difficult. “I am picky about the taste of my water,” she shared. “This was resolved with a countertop Berkey Water Filtration system, glass bottles that fit perfectly in the refrigerator, and several to-go water bottles. Now, I have great-tasting water at home and on the go.” Since changing her habits four years ago, Buckingham estimates saving over 4,000 water bottles from going to the landfill.

Yvonne Dwyer, One Planet Life’s Naturalist, switched to a refillable water bottle after seeing how many empty plastic water bottles ended up in her weekly recycle bin.

“It was time for a change,” she said. “I learned that not all plastic is recycled, and the expense of paying for bottled water just seemed crazy. Instead, I could use my reusable hard plastic tumbler cup, which I eventually changed to a Nalgene bottle, and then to Hydro Flask and Corkcicle bottles, which keep water cool. My Hydro Flask, Corkcicle, and Yeti bottles go with me on whatever adventure I pursue.”

Amy Bates, CMO of One Planet Life, reduced dependency on single-use plastics after seeing the sheer volume of plastic her family was throwing away. 

“I made three simple changes that significantly reduced our plastic waste and saved money and effort,” she said. “First, I switched to reusable k-cups to make our coffee. Not only could we enjoy any coffee, but it was also much less expensive. Second, I stopped buying plastic ziplock bags for snacks and storage. Now, I use reusable snack and storage bags, I prefer the Russbe brand, and they work great. I wash them in the dishwasher and enjoy another cost savings! Finally, we use our reusable water bottles daily, for travel, and while on our boat at the lake.”

Her family went from buying a couple of cases of water in plastic bottles each weekend to using quality, insulated bottles on their boating trips. 

“It’s much easier to know which drink is yours, and we significantly decreased the amount of waste to clear off the boat at the end of the day,” she shared. “These joyful changes were easy to make and delivered many benefits.”

As the OPL team shared, switching to reusable options often carries more benefits than just reducing waste. 

To help make this switch easier for those on their journey to live a more sustainable life, One Planet Life is launching its very own e-store.

Shoppers will find eco-friendly, reusable products to replace single-use options, including:

  • A Travel Utensils Set in Cloth Pouch, with a glass straw and brush, fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks, and a cloth napkin
  • Foldable and reversible Tote Bags
  • Larger Canvas Tote Bags 
  • Insulated Reusable Water Bottles
With a reusable water bottle alone, two fill-ups daily would save 720 plastic bottles per year or 0.63 pounds of carbon emissions. 

If communities worked together to lower their dependency on single-use everyday items by substituting reusable alternatives, the hope of a cleaner future unmarred by mountains of plastics could become a reality.

Written by Carley Kimball

Written by Carley Kimball

Freelance Journalist and OPL Content Contributor

“I’ve always tried to implement planet-friendly practices in my life but didn’t quite realize just how much of an impact individuals can make until I was introduced to One Planet Life. I’m so excited to be able to utilize my professional skills to contribute valuable information and positive personal experiences to help make the world a better place.”

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and REFILL to Benefit the Planet

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and REFILL to Benefit the Planet

It’s time to add another R-action on your journey to living more sustainably. Refill your containers instead of purchasing new ones.

Buying package-free products and using your own containers is an impactful way to reduce your carbon footprint and minimize the amount of plastic and containers you send to the landfill. Shops selling bulk, package-free products as often referred to as “refilleries.” I’ll share my recent experience at a refillery near my home.

While watching the Pittsburgh nightly news one evening, a local commercial came on for a small woman-owned business called, The Refillery. The ad promoted a store where you bring your own plastic and glass containers and purchase personal care products such as shampoo and home essentials such as all-purpose cleaners and laundry detergent. I decided to visit!

Immediately upon arriving at this eco-friendly brick-and-mortar in Squirrel Hill, I was greeted by a friendly employee. She enthusiastically showed me around and explained how the whole process at The Refillery works.

The Refillery

Here is how the refilling process works:
  1. Bring clean and empty containers from home – there are also glass bottles and jars for sale.
  2. Before you fill your container, the bottle or jar is weighed, and that weight is deducted from the final weight after filling it with your favorite product.
  3. Fill your containers with the desired home and personal care products.
  4. You only need to fill in the amount you need. Then the filled container is weighed, and the container weight is subtracted from the total weight.
  5. Pay by the ounce.
Prices are very reasonable. You pay by weight, but your containers are weighed empty first and deducted from the total. 

With my mason jars In hand, I went for a laundry detergent, an all-purpose cleaner, and lemon sugar scrub. All the products are made locally with clean ingredients using the least amount of chemicals and preservatives. There are several familiar products to choose from, including Kaylaan toothpaste tablets and Hibar solid shampoo/conditioner, which I already use and love.

By adding refilling as one of your new sustainable actions, you help the environment by reducing plastic usage, and you also save money! 

I was fortunate enough to meet the founder and owner of The Refillery, Lorissa Russo. We had a great conversation regarding her zero-waste startup, available products, and her mission and passion for reducing single-use plastic and packaging with locally, ethically, and sustainably made affordable products. During Covid quarantine Lorissa, an engineer at the time learned about refilleries in Europe and other areas of the United States through TikTok videos. The more she thought about reducing plastic packaging and climate change she decided that she needed to take a personal stance to make a difference. She resigned from her engineering position and created The Refillery.


Explore our OPL INSIGHT interactive map to locate similar stores in your state.
Package Free Shopping By State and City
OPL Naturalist Yvonne Dwyer

This experience was shared by OPL Naturalist Yvonne Dwyer.

Learn more about Yvonne.

Now is the Time to Prepare for the Growing Season

Now is the Time to Prepare for the Growing Season

As we look out the window on a 5 degree sunny, snowy day, it may be hard to imagine containers or gardens filled with abundant vegetables and fruit. But the promise of spring is on its way. Now is the time to prepare for the growing season. 

When planning your container or outdoor garden, it’s best to start small and grow what you love. 

For example, if you love salsa, plant a salsa garden of tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and onions. Growing seedlings is fun, exciting, and rewarding.  You can use seeds you saved from your garden last year, compost soil from your pile, or purchase seeds and dirt from your local garden center or farmer’s market. You can also purchase seeds from sustainable companies such as Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Renee’s Garden, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and Botanical Interests. Reuse plastic and cardboard containers as suitable makeshift greenhouses. Egg cartons can be planted directly into the soil and will disintegrate into the ground as the plant grows.

Once you have your seeds selected, check out your last frost date to determine when to begin sowing your seeds. Enter your zip code at to determine the best time to transplant your seedlings outside. 

Take these five steps to prepare for the growing season:

1. Fill your containers within 1/2 inch of the top of the containers with soil and wet with warm water. Use the eraser end of a pencil to make a small hole to drop in two seeds. Cover the seeds with a light layer of soil and sprinkle with warm water. (Make sure to check the instructions on your seed packet for the exact amount of dirt required to cover your seeds.)

2. Cover your makeshift greenhouse. If you use egg cartons, cover with a plastic lid from another container to keep in the moisture. Be sure your soil does not dry out during germination. Mist or sprinkle your greenhouse with warm water. It is best to maintain a 70-degree temperature inside for germination.

3.  Once the seeds have sprouted, remove the plastic covering and move the seedling to a sunny area, preferably a south-facing window.  In many instances, an LED shop or grow light (which you can purchase at your local hardware store or online) will be required to support photosynthesis. Seedlings will need between 10-16 hours of light each day. Plants should be 1-3 inches from the light source. Raise the lights as the plants grow.

4. After the danger of frost, acclimate your plants outside by gradually increasing daily exposure to outdoor temperature over two weeks. Begin with one hour the first day, then increase by an hour each day until they are always outside.  Ensure that temps outside are at least 40-50 degrees before exposing your plants. 

5. Begin your vegetable seeds 4-5 weeks before the outdoor planting date of your area.  You should sow flower seeds 8-10 weeks before transplanting outside.  

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