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Ferndale zero-waste shop promotes refills, offers alternatives to plastic waste

Instead of recycling, try refilling!
Posted at 7:57 AM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 07:57:26-05

FERNDALE, MI (WXYZ) — For the last year and a half, Tessa Benziger of Walking Lightly has been offering metro Detroiters ways to reduce plastic waste.

“I kinda feel like there are enough containers that already exist in the world so if somebody already has a shampoo pump bottle like use that one.”

Her zero-waste shop offers customers alternatives to everyday items that use plastic.

“We just have like bamboo replacements for toothbrushes. Bamboo floss that comes in a glass container, it’s biodegradable. Toothpaste tabs have been really popular.”

After learning that many recycled plastic items, cannot or do not actually make it into recycling manufacturers Tessa thought — why not eliminate plastic altogether.

“I do feel like it’s creating change,” she said.

When customers come into Walking Lightly, they bring their own previously used glass or plastic container and refill it with whatever products they may need.

“And I’ll sometimes have customers who get excited about sharing that too like ‘this is my fourth time refilling this bottle.’ And yeah! That’s four less bottles in the waste stream,” Tessa said.

Tessa’s shop offers refills of hand soaps, body soap, lotion, shampoo, and dish cleaners.

“And if there’s one switch you can make then great! And honestly, I think that’s kind of the best way to do it like find one swap that feels comfortable and try to make that feel seamless in your life."

She says she’s saved thousands of plastic bottles from entering landfills since the birth of her storefront. She’s hoping the refill nature of her shop is something that will trickle down to other small businesses and even larger corporations.

“I think we vote with our dollars and so when somebody is choosing to shop refill or plastic-free then they’re kinda sending a message to manufacturers that this is important and this is where I’m spending my money.”

And while some may believe one person’s waste can’t change the world, Tessa believes otherwise.

“When we change the way that we do things we do have a collective voice and I think the more we’re supporting places like that and supporting organizations that do that the more likely we are to make change.”