Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Little changes with a huge impact: Fill Happy brings zero waste to Williamsburg

Jana Flores with her daughters, Brianna and Kayla. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Jana Flores)

WILLIAMSBURG — What is the environmental impact of a single plastic bottle?

Jana Flores knows.

She also knows a lot about safe alternatives for single-use plastics.

Introducing Fill Happy, Williamsburg’s new zero waste and refill store. Offering household supplies, toiletries, laundry detergent, deodorants, both dry and liquid goods, all of which do not have unnecessary plastic packaging. The store also carries bulk options to refill soaps and shampoos.

How did this get started?

“I became aware of package free options in my home country,” said Flores, who hails from the Czech Republic. She said that she has always felt close to nature.

When her oldest daughter, Brianna, was born, Flores looked for sustainable, ethically sourced, and non-toxic products. “So many things, like your shampoo or laundry detergent have unnecessary toxins in them,” she said.

But this feat was easier said than done. Many items weren’t available locally or were in plastic packaging.

Brianna developed a deep love for the ocean, especially for sharks. As the two explored ocean-related topics, Flores learned more about the harm of plastics found in animals and how they end up in our food supply.

“I personally could not find products that would satisfy me,” she said.

The launch of Fill Happy

To create a solution to a problem, Flores launched Fill Happy this past February.

“During the pandemic, my thing was, when you’re running out of hand soap, why don’t we refill it instead of tossing out the bottle?”

Diving into the concept of refilling packages instead of throwing out bottles and containers, Flores said that the idea is still pretty new and outside of many others’ comfort zones. Her website also publishes blog posts talking about sustainability and what habits people can change to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

“I would like to teach people to be more conscious with their purchases because every item we purchase has an impact. We are voting with our dollars,” she said.

And that’s the mission of zero waste: eliminating the amount of trash produced by the products that people buy. The idea is to move away from a linear form of consumption toward a circular economy, where resources are reused instead of being tossed out. See the infographic below for more information as to how this works.

Switching from a linear form of manufacturing and consuming to a circular form where resources are constantly reused and recycled is the base idea of the zero waste movement. (WYDaily/Photo by Gabrielle Rente)

“It’s a challenge to teach people because I’m asking them to change their habits. But my goal is to inspire others to do what they can,” she said.

What do I need to know?

  • If you’re buying a refillable product, like hand soap, choose your size and whether you want to reuse a bottle you already have or purchase a glass or aluminum one.
  • If you are refilling your own container, then place your empty, clean and dry containers outside. Be sure to include lids/pumps/sprayers. Label containers with what product you want in what container, or leave a note in the cart. Flores will pick them up and deliver refilled.

Delivery options are available for those who live within 15 miles of Waller Mill Elementary School. Shipping is also available within Virginia. Local delivery in Williamsburg, James City County and York County is free with orders of $30 or more, and shipping is free with orders of $65 or more.

To shop the store’s catalog, visit the Fill Happy website by clicking here. Flores also sets up a stand at the Williamsburg Bazaar, which she attends every other Friday and Saturday.

To stay up-to-date on all the happenings with Fill Happy, visit the Facebook page here.


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