1 ABOUT ECOFILLOSOPHY
1.1 What do you mean by full-service?
Opening a business during COVID-19 had us rethinking our business model, and particularly the refill aspect. How could we ensure everyone’s safety? And sanitize products that often come in compostable, paper packaging?
The safest option was to display our products for customers to see, have scent samplers to smell, and keep everything else cleanly behind the counter. This way, customers would not have to concern themselves with handling and would be assured products remained unopened and unexposed.
If our customers want to know more about a product, we’re here to help. And we have our own personal experiences to add as we use these products in our homes, and test everything thoroughly before selling it.
1.2 Do you offer curbside pickup?
Yes we do, for our local community. Just email your order or order online and select pick-up as your delivery method.
When your order is ready, come down to the shop and have someone in your car call us at 905-827-1111 when you are out front, and we will bring your order right to your window!
1.3 Do you offer local delivery?
We offer free curbside pick-up from our shop in Bronte, Ontario, and will deliver locally in Oakville and Burlington for the flat rate of $5. Delivery outside of these areas are subject to regular shipping fees.
1.4 Are you involved in any advocacy?
There is always more that we’d like to do. We have been involved in the low-waste community for over a decade and are aware of the issues around us – plastic pollution, global warming, depletion of our natural resources…the list goes on.
Stay tuned to our pages on social media (Instagram and Facebook) to learn more about what we are doing, and how you can join us and help.
1.5 How do I become an EcoFillosophy supplier?
Please fill this questionnaire out so we can get to know you and your products better. We need to be sure products that we carry check as many of our boxes as possible, and will want to test everything thoroughly first, but we’d love to chat! If you have questions, email us at [email protected].
2 REFILL PROGRAM
2.1 Do you have a refill program?
We sure do - with close to 50 (and growing!) refillable products currently available 'on-tap' in the store and now online here! We listen to our customers and are adding more products to our HomeFill line all the time.
2.2 How does your refill program work?
As a full-service shop, we’re happy to help with refills. Simply bring in an empty, clean and dry container from home (or buy or borrow one of ours), and tell us what you’re looking for. We can recommend a product from one of our popular lines, and you let us know how much you’d like – whether just sampling or filling ‘er up!
We tare (weigh) and label your container, fill it and calculate your total. Then we pat you on the back for saving 10-12% by not paying for single-use packaging and for helping out the environment! Okay, so we won’t actually do that. Unless you want us to… we’ll even throw you a very short parade.
2.3 How do you refill online?
Our HomeFill orders come in our own aluminum or glass bottles, priced and available in pre-filled 1 litre (available now!) bottles. We may add smaller sizes later (think 500mL, 250mL and 80mL!) Note, the 1-litre size can be very heavy to ship, so we recommend these for local delivery or curbside pick-up only.
2.4 Do you have a bottle return program?
Yes, our HomeFill on-tap products come in 1-litre mason jar. Prices include a $3 jar deposit - which can be refunded when you return the empty jar later.
2.5 Can I use my own container?
Yes! You can bring in your own bottles, margarine containers, tins, tubs, buckets, etc. As long as they are empty, clean, and dry, and come with a lid, we will fill them for you. Alternately, we have our own bottles available for purchase, or sanitized, donated jars for borrowing. Yup, we’re sharers… that’s how we roll!
If you have glass jars you would like to donate, please check with us first to ensure we are accepting – our shop is small and space is limited! If so, note that all jars need to be cleaned, with labels and glue removed, and have intact and waterproof lids to minimize spills. For safety, we heat sanitize all donated jars before placing them on our shelves.
2.6 What do you offer for refill?
We have several lines of most products but below are the products we currently fill. Visit our online refill page here for current products. We add new products all the time, so be sure to visit regularly.
Personal care: shampoo, conditioner, multi-purpose hair and body products, styling products, skin cream, body wash, shower melts, toothpaste/tablets, dental floss, deodorant.
Home care: all-purpose cleaner in liquid/dissolvable pods/tablets, liquid and solid dish soap, dishwasher liquid and tablets, liquid and bar hand soap, laundry soap in liquid, tablets, powder and strips and toilet cleaner tablets.
If there is something you are looking for that we do not carry, please let us know. We're always open to suggestion!
2.7 I’ve been to other low-waste stores and I can usually refill myself.
We launched our shop in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic (they say timing is everything!) and it made us think about the way we wanted to run our shop. The safety of our clients and their families, as well as our staff, is paramount and as such it was important that we maintain as sterile an environment as possible to ensure the quality of the product you receive.
We also keep all sale-able products behind the counter, so you can rest assured they have not been handled – an important consideration during such times. We take rigorous care to sanitize and disinfect, and encourage our customers to do the same when entering the store, and to ask for assistance to see or smell a product up close.
Once we feel confident the health risk is contained, we have designed the store to be modular and allow us to open our refill room should we decide to do so in the future.
2.8 How much is refill compared to prefill?
While each product and maker offers different bulk pricing and we fill by weight, a good rule of thumb is that it should cost about 10 to 12% less without packaging. Who says being green needs to be expensive?
2.9 Why do you refill in plastic if you are low-waste?
We try to encourage people to make small changes in their lifestyle to be more eco-friendly. That means reusing existing plastics as long as possible to extend their lifespan, but considering eco-friendly options when it comes time for replacement.
3 OUR PRODUCTS
3.1 Do you personally use all of your products?
Absolutely! We could not sell a product we were not comfortable using with our own families. Almost every product in our store has been tested by the two of us (our husbands and sons happily tested our men’s products for us, and while we skin-tested our lines designed for pregnant women, babies and children, we had 'test subjects' check them out for efficacy!). In many cases, we extend testing to our friends - we can rely on them to be BRUTALLY honest and if they don’t give a product the seal of approval, neither do we!
3.2 Are your products organic/biodegradable/vegan/cruelty-free/fair trade?
Most of our products check many of these boxes. Our goal is to always be as eco-friendly as possible and offer made-in-Canada products that are all-natural, vegan, toxin-free, cruelty-free and plastic-free, wherever possible.
3.3 I have sensitive skin – does all-natural mean I won’t have a reaction to it?
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. Although our products are mostly plant-based, pH-balanced, and wherever possible, chemical-free, every person is different. The same way a pair of jeans look different on each of us, people metabolize ingredients differently and some may have existing sensitivities. If there is an ingredient you know upfront does not work well for you, please let us know so we can recommend an alternative. Or if you have a concern, we suggest trying refill products, as they allow you to test a small amount first to see how it works before committing to a whole bottle. Another way being green can save you money!
3.4 I use a zero-waste product from a national retailer – how do your products compare?
We have found that not all plastic-free products meet our requirements, and not all eco-friendly products are made equally. Our products are carefully curated, usually from Canadian makers and small business owners like ourselves, and wherever possible, they are made locally to keep our footprint small.
If you currently buy from a big retailer and have found products you like, we understand if you want to stick with something you are comfortable with. But, if you are trying to be more conscientious or looking to try something new that they may not carry, we hope you will consider us.
A big part of our ‘ecofillosophy’ is raising awareness, and we are always happy to share our knowledge on these topics or to participate or host community events focused on change. We use our voices and platforms for positive change, and we’ll often invite you to join our campaigns, so be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook to learn what we're up to.
3.5 I have a favorite brand… why aren’t you selling it?
If you have a favorite, we want to know about it! If it meets our target requirements – made in Canada, all-natural, toxin-free, cruelty-free and plastic-free (refillable is definitely a bonus!) – we would absolutely consider testing it ourselves before deciding to add it to our lineup.
3.6 Are all your products made in Canada?
Wherever possible, we bring products in from local vendors but sometimes we find a product we really love that is made elsewhere in Canada. In other cases, we find products designed in Canada but whose raw materials are sourced from outside the country, as with bamboo toothbrushes. While not indigenous to Canada, bamboo is still the most eco-friendly choice so we purchase toothbrushes designed and packaged in recyclable packaging right here in Canada. And sometimes, quality or the lack of viable options in Canada make us turn to other countries when it makes sense, like Sweden for our Swedish sponges or Germany for our dish brushes, but we will always scour Canada first looking for a provider.
3.7 I was told the packaging my lip balm came in was compostable. Really? Compostable?
You betcha! We work with all vendors to ensure products are packaged in the ‘greenest’ materials possible. If it says compostable or recyclable, or we tell you it is, it REALLY is!
3.8 Do natural deodorants actually work? I hate sweating.
Deodorants are designed to protect against odour by making skin more acidic and less attractive to bacteria. Antiperspirants use aluminum to block pores and sweat glands and reduce sweating.
While the link between aluminum found in antiperspirants and cancer/Alzheimer’s remains unproven, consensus among the health community is that sweating is an essential function that helps to regulate body temperature and clear our bodies of heavy metals.
As such, we only carry natural deodorants. If excessive sweating is an issue, we recommend trying clay-based deodorants, which may absorb better.
3.9 How do I use a shampoo bar?
It’s easy. Just wet your hair, lather the soap in your hands or directly against hair, scrub and rinse. It is important to keep your shampoo or conditioner bar dry between uses and not allow it to sit in water, as it will start to dissolve or melt and you’ll end up using more product than you need with a wet bar.
For questions on how to use any of our products – because new innovations are being released in the green space every day! – please check out our individual product pages.
4 ECOFILLOSOPHY VALUES
4.1 What are the 12Rs?
Our 'ecofillosophy' is about shopping smarter, being kinder consumers, demanding better and more eco-friendly packaging, paying fairly for handmade Canadian products, and thinking carefully about what we leave behind for future generations to manage.
We’re about quality, eco-friendly, local and Canadian-made products that have earned our trust, and that we feel confident will help reverse the damage done by our over-reliance on plastic – from increasing health sensitivities to the direct impacts seen in our environment.
We’re anticipating the return of a simpler life. One in which people don’t take more than they need, and are defined by their sense of community. Where ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ has grown to embrace the 12Rs of sustainable living:
- Respecting: the planet and its resources
- Remembering: and reconsidering individual needs before purchasing
- Refusing: to buy plastics or single-use items that don’t align with personal values
- Reducing: in order to buy less and waste less
- Reusing: what we have, or giving others the chance to do so
- Returning: items that could be refurbished or given new life
- Refilling: existing containers, extending the life of plastics or using renewable sources like glass or aluminum
- Rotting: waste in backyard or through city compost programs, and buying compostable materials
- Restoring: and replenishing natural resources we have been taking from the earth
- Repurposing: old items in new ways to extend their life and divert from landfill
- Repairing: damaged items and continuing to use them rather than tossing them in waste
- Recycling: items that can responsibly be diverted, only after other efforts have been exhausted
The low-waste journey is certainly an adventure, and while not always easy, we believe it is one well-worth exploring. As conscientious consumers, we may not always get things right along the way but every bit helps and making small changes as a community can have unexpectedly positive outcomes.
4.2 What efforts do you undertake to follow the 12Rs in the shop?
We are committed to doing everything we can to reduce our footprint and live as clean as we can, both at home and in the shop. Here are just a few examples of efforts we take in the shop, to minimize our impact on the environment:
- We shop as local as possible for all products and supplies and work with suppliers to ensure products are shipped and packaged in eco-friendly materials, whenever possible.
- We use recycled paper and card stock for signs, product and loyalty tags, and reuse both sides of paper before recycling.
- We turn off lights in our refill room when not in use to conserve energy.
- We compost and recycle, bringing composted waste home for local pick-up as the neighbourhood we operate in does not support commercial composting (don't worry, we're working on that too!).
- We opted out of barcode scanners and traditional gift cards in the shop, as both demanded the use of plastic, opting for creative solutions and workarounds we could stand behind.
- We use live plants in our store and keep doors open whenever possible to ensure naturally fresh, clean air in our shop.
- We use Health Canada approved, plant-based sanitizers and disinfectants to regularly clean all surfaces.
- When designing the shop, we opted for natural, eco-friendly or repurposed products - choosing wood over PDF, natural stone versus melamine, LED lights and low-flow fixtures, and a high-efficiency dishwasher. Even in the details, we use salvaged wood pallets and driftwood in decorating, and second-hand, living or natural products in our staging.