Let's Re:Plenish

My take on a hot spot for eco-friendly shopping in Edmonton and area, Re:Plenish Zero Waste and Refillery Store.

Bulk face wash and toner, from local artisan Six Scents; bulk deodorant by Routine.

Living a waste-free life has become hot cultural ideology for those of us concerned with current environmental phenomenon, climate change, and the sustainability of our way of life. Indeed, the eco-friendly aesthetic has permeated many scopes of fashion, with neutral tones and unlabeled items draping everything from body to household.

But, waste-free living can be a big shift for consumers because it quickly becomes overwhelming and it can get expensive. Not only is there a mass of sustainably marketed products to sift through, but green washing makes shopping much more complex than one often realizes. A waste-free enthusiast must adapt to new levels of awareness and critical thinking, and balance a sticky feud between changes of habit and everyday convenience.

As a full-time student, working a part time job and trying to pay my inflated rent every month, it can be challenging to live my ideal consumerist lifestyle. I have relapsed countless times to chain stores and Dollarama over the past few years when time or money is just too tight. I’ve learned that this is a rather unfortunate, but realistic, consequence of the shift to waste-free living. Despite these set backs, I’m always looking for new ways to decrease my environmental impact and that’s why I’d like to give you my review of Edmonton’s newest waste-free poster child, Re:Plenish.

Concrete soap dish & hand brush

Re:Plenish is a zero waste refillery and retail store, with a focus on home care and personal care products, such as shampoos, cleaners, dental hygiene… you get the idea. Launched into the public eye in early 2020, Re:Plenish started as a weekend pop up shop and, after receiving success throughout Edmonton’s first pandemic lockdown last March, moved to their own brick and mortar shop off of 99th Street. They exist, now, in what looks to be the front living quarters of a remodelled 50's home. The shop is cozy and familiar, and every time I walk in I feel like I’m stepping into an old friend’s place. A warm, spacious, and clean aesthetic welcomes you. It’s amazing how de-cluttered a room can feel without excessive product labels.

I’ve purchased a handful of products from Re:plenish, including dishwasher tabs, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soap. And I’ve found the products to be reasonable in price and very pleasing in quality. The shop encourages customers to bring their own containers, so filling up a 100 gram jar with shampoo or conditioner usually costs me around $8.00. While some of the other pre-packaged items may seem a bit pricey, you really won’t find such high-quality items at a lower price. Keep in mind that these items are made to sport a longer time of use than their equivalent picked up at say – Walmart. They trade in dollar value what you would sacrifice in sustainable packaging and ethical resource extraction. The shop aims to market Alberta made products if possible, including a mesmerizing Six’s Scent’s green tea face wash and rose water toner. Or Canadian made, such as Oneka Element’s Cedar and Sage shampoo and conditioner.

Bulk laundry detergent and dishwashing tabs (with plant-based, water soluble packaging)

Through a more critical eye, Re:Plenish has a few kinks to work out. Their products, though they offer bulk and save you money on packaging, still hover at a higher price range than other commercial stores and chains. This is due, at least in part, to the economic cost of producing high quality goods, but, nevertheless, remains rather obstructive. As a walking pedestrian, their location is not a huge seller, as it’s a few blocks off of Whyte Ave in a residential area (though I assume for neighbor hood residents this works out quite well). For anyone making a special trip in a vehicle, their location is less than ideal but not impossible. And, along these lines, the rather limited scope of the shop (personal and household) complicates shopping for consumers who are working to cut down on their travel emissions. In other words, if you’re trying to save gas, this is just one more stop you’ll have to make.

If one considers the reality, however, in a culture of whom a large majority of consumers drive to and spend much of their Saturday mornings in the line up at Costco every other weekend, the proxemic hiccups of Re:Plenish start to become less and less of a concern.

Also, the girls at Re:Plenish have been extremely gracious through the pandemic, often going to great ends to make their products and storefront available and safe for consumers as we all navigate these turbulent times. A big cheers to them for that!

Happy shopping!

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