Fill 'em Up
Refill stations to kick the plastic habit
- 11 Jan 2019 at 09:17
- WRITER: ERIC E SURBANO
The war on plastic has been waged in Thailand with plans to do away with single-use plastics by 2022 and single-use plastic bottles and straws by 2025. It's been a long time coming and is a little way away, but we're hoping this change sticks. A few days ago, I bought stuff from a Tesco Lotus Express and they used a paper bag -- change is afoot, people. Instead of being cynical and wondering why they couldn't ban plastic sooner, we can choose to be part of the solution now. The concept of refill stations or refilleries is growing in Europe and North America. It's basically a grocery store where you take your own containers to fill them up, which drastically lowers plastic waste. Think of all the plastic you throw away after using detergents and soaps. Fortunately, a number of refill stations have also been popping up around the Kingdom, providing us an opportunity to cut plastic use. Even better, these places are spread out all over Bangkok and two are in Chiang Mai so there's no excuse not to avail of their environmental-friendly services. Get your containers ready -- Guru's about to get eco-friendly up in here.
The OG refillery, Refill Station in On Nut continues to grow strong. Most of the shops in the list credit their start to this shop, whether they helped get them started or even inspired them because they saw that refill stations were possible businesses to be established in Thailand. Other refilleries -- some even on this list -- also get their products from here. If you're interested in starting a refill station, you'll definitely want to contact them because they not only offer help but also supply equipment and products. Aside from the usual refill products like detergents, shampoos and soaps, they've also got some food items like nuts, coffee and pastas. Plus, they also share the same space with Better Moon Café, which serves healthy food and is eco-friendly, so you can get a bite to eat before or after pumping up.
Photos courtesy of Refill Station
Tues-Sat (10am-7pm), Sun (10am-4pm)
ZeroMoment Refillery is probably the biggest refillery on this list simply because it's solely a refill station. Although people suggested to the owner that she should have a café to draw people into the store, she decided to go with her gut and two months later things have been pretty good. The shop welcomed foreign customers who were familiar with the concept of refilleries but her local customer base has also been growing. Because it's a pretty big place, the products they have on offer are extensive. Along with the usual liquid soaps are bar soaps, a number of condiments like soy sauce (you can refill that, too), and superfoods like quinoa and dried fruit.
Photos: Eric E. Surbano
Foolfill Zero Waste Refill Corner
90 Thapae Road, Chang Moi, Chiang Mai
As the name suggests, this may not be the biggest of refilleries but with the long way Thailand has to go to becoming eco-friendly, we're glad Foolfill is contributing in lessening plastic in Chiang Mai. The owner said some of the locals are trying to wrap their heads around the concept while unsurprisingly, foreigners have readily grasped the idea. Slowly but surely, Chiang Mai locals are getting the hang of it. Foolfill's quaint corner can be found inside the “rivers and roads” store, which sells a variety of arts and crafts.
Photos courtesy of Foolfill Zero Waste Refill Corner
My Best Life CNX
Tues-Sat (9am-9pm), Sun (9am-5pm)
14 Sirimankalajarn 9, Chiang Mai
My Best Life CNX is part of an organisation that helps out refugees and ethnic minorities in Thailand under the Thai Freedom House. All profits from My Best Life CNX goes towards a scholarship fund for students supported by the Thai Freedom House. There's also Free Bird Café that serves organic, vegan dishes and accepts donations, where the items donated are distributed to the underprivileged in northern Thailand. It's no surprise that Lisa Nesser, foundation's founder and executive director, holds these causes very close to her heart. Aside from providing a learning centre of arts and language for Burmese refugees under Thai Freedom House, she also seeks to help in reducing plastic waste with My Best Life CNX by providing a convenient, eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastics. The usuals like shampoos and soaps are available to fill up, as well as non-plastic cutlery, bamboo straws, paper cotton buds and even bamboo toothbrushes!
Photos courtesy of My Best Life CNX
Less Plastic Able
632 Prajadhipok Road, Khwaeng Hiranruchi
If it isn't already clear by its name, Less Plastic Able is a shop that wants its customers to... well, use less plastic as much as possible. It offers straws and toothbrushes to awesome and fashionable net and tote bags, as well as reusable coffee cups and water tumblers. If you had any doubts whether eco-friendly can look chic, Less Plastic Able puts all those doubts in the ground. Aside from refilling liquid products, they've also got soap and shampoo bars and you can also fill up on superfoods like quinoa and chia seeds. You might also bump into a cute pug while you're there, which is just another reason to pay them a visit.
Photos courtesy of Less Plastic Able
OC Organic Shop
NICC Plaza, Nichada Thani
In Nonthaburi, it's obvious that OC Organic Shop isn't just a refillery. It also sells some of the freshest organic (duh) produce, as well as a variety of organic (duh) products like Kaff & Co, which provides a number of scalp-related products. The refillery at OC Organic Shop has been around for six months and was set up by the OG Refill Station hence the blue-and-white R symbol. Unsurprisingly, similar products are available albeit in lesser quantities, as well as a number of non-plastic straw alternatives.
Photos courtesy of OC Organic Shop
Atnest Hostel was established last year and already has a steady stream of guests, an in-house café and a refill station. Its refillery, which is barely four months old, is seeing daily use with people getting their fill (insert rimshot here) of dry toothpaste, multipurpose cleaner and mung-bean based facial scrubbing powder among other products. They also sell a variety of non-plastic alternative products, including a turtle and whale foldable bag, sale profits of which go to the Trat Dolphins Conservation Fund.
Photos courtesy of Atnest Hostel