Interview: Ashley, founder of ‘That Refill Place’

During lockdown, we have all been dealing with different things, some of us working more than normal, others not working at all, some learning French or others trying to cope with home-schooling.

Environment Journal got in touch with Ashley, one person who has used this time to switch career path and create her very own zero-waste, plastic-free shop: ‘That Refill Place.’

What led you to create That Refill Place? 

It all started in lockdown, I’ve always been a vegetarian and have always tried to do my bit for the planet, but during lockdown, I did a shop in Aldi and when I looked at all the unavoidable plastic and I was so shocked.

I just thought it shouldn’t have to be this way, surely there is an alternative to all of your food coming wrapped in plastic?

So I decided there and then that I had to do something about it.

I had a hunt around for alternative ways to shop, but I couldn’t find anything in my local area so I just thought why don’t I have a go at opening something myself.

I used to be a beauty therapist and when I look back at the amount of plastic waste used, from disposable gloves to cotton wool buds I am really shocked, and with COVID, the problem is only getting worse.

So this is me doing my bit.

Changing the way we shop is so important. It’s just about changing people’s mentality and helping people to realise that it’s not as hard as they might think to go plastic-free when they shop.

How can people access the shop? 

Because of lockdown, we didn’t know how things were going to go so we decided to start online, it’s minimum risk and we don’t have as many outgoings, so we’re going to try like this and then if we can branch out we will.

People can go online, order whatever they want and either do click and collect or we will deliver locally free of charge for orders over £10

What response have you had? 

We’ve had such a great response, I think the majority of people are looking for shops like us, and lots of people are looking for organic produce.

I appreciate it might be more expensive, and with the uncertainty of lockdown I wasn’t sure how people would react, but the response has been great!

Consumer behaviours are changing, and the easier it is for people to shop this way then the more likely they are to do it.

During lockdown, we were shopping a lot more locally, and I think people want to support local businesses who are trying to do something good, especially when there’s an individual behind the product or the business who you want to support.

Who do you run the business with? 

It’s just me!

My partner helps me a lot, but he has recently got a new job and has much less time.

My daughter loves it too. We have recently bought litter pickers and when we walk the dog we go around the local area picking up any litter we see.

Where we live we have noticed that the amount of rubbish is so much worse than before, and there’s no excuse, if I can pick it up then other people can.

So we just want to encourage people to think more consciously about what they buy and realise that it’s not difficult to make small changes.

What are your long term plans? 

We have recently got an allotment and in the long term, I would love to grow and sell my own veg.

I would also like to sell fresh herbs and spices as you can’t really buy them without plastic packaging.

I would love one day to have my own shop, but in the meantime, we are hoping to branch out to local markets.

The ‘That Refill Place’ website can be accessed here. 

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Pippa Neill

Pippa Neill

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