The thought of “going green” can seem daunting. But living in a more sustainable way only takes a first step, said Kimberly Flores, owner of fulFILLed, a zero-waste and refill shop in Park City.
“There’s no consumption that’s completely zero-waste; there’s no such thing,” Flores said. “You can’t be a consumer, and also be zero-waste. However, there are options for cleaner, greener products that are good for your family.”
FulFILLed and another Utah “refillery” business, Foster’s Refillery, can help you on your way to a greener lifestyle. Both not only carry sustainable products, but also allow you to refill plastic containers that you may have otherwise thrown out with products like shampoo, liquid soap and more.
Like the milkman, but for soap: That’s how Salt Lake City native Hannah Foster sums up her business, Foster’s Refillery, which serves Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Wasatch, Summit and Utah counties.
Together, she and her dad, Shawn Foster, hand-deliver bulk containers of products like hand soap to customers’ homes. Typically, you buy hand soap in a single-use plastic bottle, then recycle that bottle when it’s empty — even though a lot of plastic still often ends up in landfills.
But with Foster’s Refillery, if it’s a one-time purchase, a customer can use the bulk container that Foster or her father drop off to refill their soap dispensers, then leave it outside for the pair to pick up, clean, sanitize and refill for other orders.
The business also offers subscriptions. In that case, Foster or her father will regularly replace an empty container with another full container. And if you live in Salt Lake City, those deliveries are made by bike, usually by Foster’s dad.
Hannah Foster first became interested in refilleries when she started working at one in a small surf town in New Zealand.
She said she became “completely enamored” with the idea of small-business ownership and “knew that was something I wanted to be a part of, with a sustainability focus, and locally made focus.”
Foster said she also loved the idea of a closed-loop system, where the customer isn’t using single-use plastics. But she didn’t love the “extra steps” people had to take at the New Zealand refillery, she said, noting all the weighing and filling involved, and people having to remember to bring their own jars.
She wondered, “How can I stay true to this model, while also making it more accessible and convenient for people?” Citing an environmental movement that can sometimes be “elitist” and “exclusive,” she felt that Foster’s Refillery “needs to be a system that works for busy working folks. And not just something that’s only for a select few.”
So Foster keeps her prices around what you’d see at Smith’s or Trader Joe’s, with a one-time purchase of a half-gallon of dish soap, for example, set at $26. (For reference, that would fill about three 19-ounce bottles of dish soap.) With a subscription, the cost goes down to $23.40.
Other products that Foster’s can deliver include: eco-friendly shampoo bars, toothpaste tablets, bulk all-purpose cleaner, bulk laundry soap, dishwasher pods, soap bars, organic lip balm and glass dispensers, with many of the products made in Utah.
To make a purchase or set up a subscription with Foster’s Refillery, visit FostersRefillery.com.
“The root of all small business is finding a problem and coming up with the solution,” said Flores, whose fulFILLed store serves the Park City area.
When Flores decided to live a more zero-waste lifestyle, and wanted to rid her home of harsh chemicals when she became a mom, she said she couldn’t find the nontoxic products she needed near where she lived.
“It was very difficult for me to find in the Wasatch Back; it didn’t exist in the Wasatch Back,” she said.
That’s when she learned of a refill business in California that was run out of the back of a surf van. “I was like, ‘That, I could do, I could do that.’” So she started fulFILLed in a built-out van in June 2021, selling liquid soap refills before she opened a brick-and-mortar store in the Outlets Park City in October 2021.
“Certainly my husband didn’t like the idea of me selling soap out of a van as my career choice,” she said. “But we just went for it knowing that it wasn’t going to bankrupt the family. And it could be something we do.”
Flores still has the van, which she plans to use for deliveries and at pop-up markets this summer. But in her store, she has about 200 products to help people live more sustainable lives, including items for the kitchen, bathroom, personal care and more.
And as far as any toxic ingredients go, “I won’t carry anything in here that I wouldn’t use on my babies,” she said. “So that way people have kind of a peace of mind knowing that I’ve already done all the homework for them.”
One of the main features of fulFILLed is its refill bar, where people can bring their own containers and fill them up with more than 45 eco-friendly products such as shampoo, laundry powder, dish soap, face wash and more. There’s also containers to purchase and free donated containers available if a customer forgets their own.
“Anything that you’re going to clean your home or your body with, I’ve got it by the ounce,” she said.
On shelves lining the store, you’ll also find items that can replace more wasteful products in your home. For example, swap plastic wrap with a beeswax wrap, she suggested. Swap plastic baggies with a silicone bag or a glass jar. Use a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one.
Flores said you don’t have to make every switch at once, either.
“The idea of zero waste is so big and so daunting that it turns people off,” Flores said. “And so we’re almost like, ‘No, we just want to be your partner in sustainability.’ We just want to help you along and and show you that it’s not so scary.”
Also inside fulFILLed is a used book store called Paige’s Pages (the only store selling used books in Summit County), as well as used clothing sold on consignment. Flores said that while fulFILLed started as a zero-waste store, it has become a sort of cooperative, with over 25 women-owned businesses represented.
Flores’ fulFILLed store is located at 6699 N. Landmark Drive, Suite G103, in Park City and can be found at fulFILLedUtah.com.