I am always intrigued by the stories of people who live a “zero-waste” life. They can fit all the trash they create in an entire year into a single small jar. Whoa. It’s so admirable. But frankly, that is not going to happen in my life. That doesn’t mean I can’t make some changes, though. Perhaps even as a busy mom of twins, I can make some progress towards going low waste on the Seacoast.
Going low-waste as a young single woman was way easier.
It’s been over fifteen years since I started trying to live in a more sustainable way. As a young adult living on my own, I read a lot and dove into making DIY natural products. One of my roommate’s complained that my baking soda shampoo, vinegar conditioner and honey face wash made our bathroom look too much like a kitchen! I replaced paper towels with cut-up t-shirts, line dried my clothes, and made my own dry shampoo (a huge fail!). I made my single woman lifestyle a low-waste one.
Now as a mom to twins, my green living track record is spottier.
We used cloth diapers for our twins, bring our recycling and compost to the transfer station, cut out dryer sheets and stopped buying bottled water. But we often use paper plates, keep our dryer working overtime, and purchase an appalling number of plastic toys. I still read a good deal about living a lower-waste life. I am just not as good at living it.
Quite truthfully, it is a lot of work to live a low-waste lifestyle like I did in my twenties. Now I have two energetic kids and a never ending to-do list. I still care about reducing my environmental impact. And my kids care about the Earth too. But the idea of adding another thing to my list is overwhelming. It’s it easier to just deal with the mom-guilt of not doing more to mitigate our climate crisis.
As a mom to young kids, going low-waste felt really hard. That is, until I went to We Fill Good in Kittery, Maine.
When We Fill Good wanted to work with us at Seacoast Moms, I jumped at the chance to be the one to try things out and here’s what I found…
The Refill Bar
Located in Kittery, Maine, We Fill Good sells all you need to easily lower your trash output, especially in the area of single use plastics. The most unique feature of the store is the Refill Bar. Customers bring their own reusable containers and fill them. Options include shampoo, hand soap, laundry detergent, deodorant, face cleanser, cleaning products, lotions and more.
I took a trip to We Fill Good one recent weekend day with my shopping list in hand. I was looking to purchase a number of items from the Refill Bar. Specifically, I had mason jars and empty containers waiting to be filled with:
- Laundry Detergent
- Tooth powder
Originally, I was a bit nervous about using the Refill Bar. I had never shopped with my own containers before. Would I look as awkward and unsure as I felt about the process? Turns out, I did not. The store owner, Marla, greeted me and to keep things Covid-safe weighed and filled my containers herself. But the process is so easy, I can definitely see myself doing it post-Covid.
Plastic Free Alternatives
You can also stock up on plastic-free alternatives to the products already in your kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. If you want an easy way to dip your toe into low-waste products their starter packs will get you off on the right foot.
Kids Can Go Low-Waste on the Seacoast
They also have a hard to resist section of children’s products. Going low-waste on the Seacoast with kids means bamboo kids dishes, sippy cups, and toys made from recycled plastic. There are eco-crayons and finger paints and even adorable onesies and ingenious Grow with Me Pants that will fit your kiddos from age 6 months to 3 years. If your kids are at the other end of the age spectrum, you can send them off to college or their first apartment with one of We Fill Good’s care packages to get them started on a low-waste adult life.
Sensitivities complicate matters.
My desire to use natural, low-waste products is complicated by the fact that our family has allergies and skin sensitivities to commonly used ingredients in natural products. I have a lavender allergy while one of my sons is allergic to nuts. I am high-maintenance customer!
And yet this where We Fill Good really shines. Marla has an incredible depth of knowledge about the products she stocks in her store. Typically, I waste hours researching the ingredients of online products. Instead, Marla steered me to products that are lavender-free, nut oil free, and baking soda free. It was effortless. And plastic free.
Products that work
Natural products can be hit or miss. I’ve been trying to find an effective baking soda-free natural deodorant for fifteen years. I really don’t want to use deodorant that has aluminum and other harmful ingredients in it. But I also don’t want to smell bad! And finally I’ve found one that smells great, works great, and doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin. Plus, I took the deodorant home in my own mason jar so avoided plastic.
I’ve already been back to purchase more of several of the items from the Refill Bar. Especially my new deodorant.
Other easy swaps
Marla also suggested another doable swap I could make. With messy kids and pets at home, I abandoned my attempts to avoid paper towels. Marla suggested I give un-paper towels (which are flannel instead of cotton like my old cut up t-shirts) and Swedish dishcloths a try. Since bringing them home, I’ve discovered they are actually better than paper towels at handling the milk spills and pet messes.
I grabbed a few other plastic free products I’ve been hoping to source locally:
- Wool dryer balls
- Bamboo toothbrushes
- Recycled trash bags
I do want to ditch single use plastic. Or at least dramatically cut down on my use of it. But (and I feel a bit guilty admitting it) at this point in my life if I am going to make any progress toward a low-waste lifestyle, I need it to be easy, effective and not break the bank.
We Fill Good offers a number of options for customers to get their low-waste products. In addition to shopping in the store, you can purchase prefilled items online for pick-up or local delivery.