Edmonton friends open bulk refill retail business to tackle waste

Two Edmonton entrepreneurs are hoping to reduce plastic consumption with a new zero waste retail store.

'We realized we were really filling up our garbage cans,' Re:Plenish co-founder says

A new zero waste retail store has opened in Edmonton. (Cole Niawchuk)

Two Edmonton entrepreneurs are hoping to reduce plastic consumption with a new zero-waste retail store. 

"It started by just looking around our houses, all the excess waste we were creating in the bathroom and kitchen mostly," said Karine St-Onge, co-founder of Re:Plenish, a bulk refill retail business that opened earlier this month at 9803 47th Ave. in south Edmonton.

"We realized we were really filling up our garbage cans and we wanted to find an easier, more convenient way to fix that problem."

The walls of Re:Plenish are lined with dispensers of home and personal care items, ranging from laundry detergent and dish soap to shampoos and conditioners. Customers can bring their own containers or buy refillable bottles at the store. 

The store also focuses on products that are made in Canada, biodegradable, vegan and cruelty-free, added co-founder Meghann Law. 

Edmonton entrepreneurs Karine St-Onge (left) and Meghann Law say they aim to live sustainably. (Shauna Prior/CBC)

Concerns about plastic waste generated from personal care products have been growing. In late 2019, Unilever — whose brands include Dove products — announced it would halve its use of non-recycled plastics by 2025.

But the popularity of consumers taking matters into their own hands, while not a new concept, is growing in Alberta.

In Edmonton, Earth's General Store, which opened on Whyte Avenue in 1991, has long offered refillable products. Last year, the Canary Goods refillery and zero-waste market opened in Calgary's Kensington area.

As more small businesses and major companies seek to reduce environmental waste from single-use containers, Law said she hopes the low-waste lifestyle will continue to grow in popularity locally and around the world. 

"I would say start small," Law said. "This doesn't have to be a giant overhaul of your lifestyle. Choose one thing that you know to be wasteful in your own home and make that difference there."


Thandiwe Konguavi is an award-winning journalist who was born in Zimbabwe and has received honours from the Canadian Church Press, the Canadian Association of Black Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association Canada. She is a web writer and editor of First Person columns at CBC Edmonton. She is also the digital producer of CBC's docuseries, Black Life: Untold Stories, debuting on CBC Gem and CBC-TV in October. Reach her at thandiwe.konguavi@cbc.ca.

With files from Zahra Premji