5 Refill Shop Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for a Sustainable Lifestyle

By now, you’ve probably heard that refilling is an effective way of moving toward an eco-friendly, zero waste lifestyle. There are tons of products you use everyday that can be refilled even though they usually come in single-use containers. 

If you are thinking, “where can I find a refill shop near me?” while trying to get started on your refill journey, Denver residents will be pleased to know that The Conscious Merchant can help them out. We offer our customers well-vetted options for items like soap, laundry detergent, lotion, and shampoo at our refill bar. Accessibility is important to us which is why we also have the option for customers to schedule a refill delivery to their home or office if they are not able to visit our shop.

the conscious merchant, zero waste store Denver


For those who have never refilled products before, you may be wondering how it all works. Here are some tips to think about as you get started on your refill zero waste journey. 

1. Choose What You’re Ready to Refill

Starting to refill may feel a little daunting, so at The Conscious Merchant we recommend picking a few products that you think will work best for you to get started. We are all about making swaps that can create long term behavior change. So, if you don’t think you can part with your favorite shampoo, don’t make refilling shampoo your first swap. 

refill products


Refilling can be done with so many different products from personal care, to cleaning products, to produce, coffees and teas. Most refill stores have some way of providing you with all their options before you visit. We list all our products on our transparency page to make it easy. 

Not sure how to decide where to start? Start by looking at the products that you use most often in order to reduce the number of single use containers most efficiently. For example, if you go through lots of hand soap like many of us post-pandemic, selecting refillable hand soap may be a great starter for you. 

Start simple and add on as you become more comfortable with the process. 

2. Clean Your Containers

All refill stores will require you to bring in clean containers for refilling. This is to prevent any build-up of old products, which can affect the new products’ effectiveness or create opportunity for  contamination and bacteria growth. 

It’s also best practice to make sure that your containers are dry. While many products on refill bars contain preservatives that prevent mold and bacteria growth, some that do not use water as an ingredient may not. When you add these products to wet containers you’re creating an environment for mold and bacteria to grow. 

3. Pick Your Containers

When starting your refill journey, take inventory of what kinds of containers you’d like to use for refilling. 

different refill containers

We’re all about reusing old containers that you have on hand. We know that oftentimes they are hard to clean (plastic shouldn’t go in the dishwasher) and many people have already thrown them away by the time you’re ready to get refilling. 

If you’re in the market for new containers, we suggest considering glass. Glass is easy to clean and can be recycled endlessly when you ever decide to change containers. We love mason jars because of their wide opening for cleaning. 

Metal and plastic containers are also options; however, glass is a lot less likely to react with ingredients present in certain products and may contain harmful ingredients such as phthalates. 

Regardless of the material you choose, you will need to make sure you have pumps. At The Conscious Merchant we have you covered for both containers and pumps. Check out our foaming hand soap pumps and amber dispensers for a more aesthetically pleasing look. 

refill mason jars and pumps

4.Understanding The Refill Pricing

Most refill shops do refilling costs by weight not volume. So when you enter the store, you or a store employee will weigh your containers for pre-fill weight and then reweigh after you refill. The difference is what you are charged. 

how refill works

Oftentimes products will be slightly more expensive than what you would find in single use containers at big box stores. Take a look at pricing before so that you can be prepared and make informed decisions on where your budget currently fits with your new refill practices. 

5. Labeling Containers

By law personal care products are required to have the volume of product listed on the bottle. This means that your refill store should be labeling your products with what is in it, how much is in it and when they filled it.

label your refill container

While you aren’t required to keep these labels on, we recommend always keeping your bottles labeled so you know what is what. We also actually love having the dates on our containers too so we know how long it took for us to use a product which helps plan for future visits. 

If aesthetics of labels are important to you, consider creating your only labels for your local store to use. 

If you are looking to start your zero waste journey, visit The Conscious Merchant online or in person to start refilling or buying new eco-friendly, sustainable products.