Doing our bit for the environment is the duty of all. Today, many companies worldwide are ensuring they add this to their efforts, and one such startup that is directly working towards protecting the Earth is Refill To Save Trading LLC.
Refill To Save Trading LLC offers soap and detergent refills in Qatar to help reduce plastic pollution. The ILoveQatar.net (ILQ) team got in touch with the founder, Victoria Marie Domini Hamade, to learn about what they do and how they do it. Read on to find out more in our interview.
Victoria: Refill2Save is a registered mobile refilling station for soap and detergents founded by me, Victoria Marie Domini Hamade. We offer soap and detergent refills to help address plastic pollution. Instead of buying soap with new plastic packaging from the supermarket, people can reuse whatever bottles they already have at home and get refills from us. Our soap and detergents are manufactured by detergent factories here in Qatar.
Our prices are per litre, depending on the soap that you want. The more volume you get, the lower the price per litre gets. We make sure that our prices are lower than the regular retail prices of the soaps available in the supermarket. With Refill2Save, you save the earth and some money, too!
As we are mobile, we go around Doha and nearby municipalities. We refill right at your doorstep!
Victoria: This business idea started at home when I saw how wasteful we are with the plastic bottles we get from supermarkets. These hand soap pumps and detergent bottles are very durable and can be used more than once. But because of the lack of options, we throw them away just after one use, hoping they will be recycled. So, when I had the opportunity and means to start my own business, I thought I would offer these refills, starting with soaps and detergents. In this way, I, in turn, help the environment. We registered the company in August 2022 and launched in October 2022 during Qatar Sustainability Week.
My motto when I was younger was "Do to others what you want others to do to you" (the golden rule), but now, it is "We do not need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, but we need millions of people doing it imperfectly." Do not be afraid to start small, to start with one step.
Victoria: Our current business model is to empower consumers to cut on their plastic waste by giving them the option to reuse their bottles and get refills.
We aim to change the mindset of people who have gotten used to throwing these things after emptying and make it convenient for them to get the refills. And that's why we thought of starting with a mobile model first. We will reintroduce the reuse concept first, get people on board and then slowly choose something less energy-consuming.
Victoria: We have a night schedule from Sunday to Wednesday to make our trips efficient. From Thursday to Saturday, we have it during the day and night. The schedules are flexible.
Apart from this, anyone needing refills must send us a message through social media or WhatsApp in advance so we can agree on when we can go to their location.
If they live in Al Gharafa, for example, in our weeknight schedule, we will deliver as per the fixed schedule (on Monday night). If they missed the Monday night round, we ask them if they need the refills urgently or if they can wait for the following Monday. We want people also to be conscious of the emissions. If they live somewhere not in the weeknight schedule, we schedule them based on their availability and the route for that day.
We assume they already have empty and clean bottles when they ask us to visit them. If their bottles are not yet empty but would want refills, we do have some spare bottles we can lend - so people don't need to buy new bottles!
Victoria: We are unique as we are a refilling station offering simple soap and detergents, essential products that most of us buy from nearby supermarkets in Qatar.
Most refilling stations in other countries offer eco-products. We chose not to follow this path yet (to offer eco-products) because our first and foremost goal is to get everyone to reuse their bottles and get refills instead. And we will save more bottles if we offer the products that most of us use or can afford.
Environmentalists also help spread the word about us. Individual environmental advocates are helping us get into schools, their compounds/villages and even their workplaces.
Victoria: Yes, education is critical to our business. Part of our work is to go to schools and communities to talk about the often-forgotten reduce and reuse steps in the famous "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" slogan.
The Gen Z and Gen Alpha are born when almost everything is disposable. It is easy and cheap to buy things we need (and do not need) nowadays; hence, repairing, reusing, repurposing, and even renting has become a thing of the past. Even millennials have become spoiled by the disposables and cheap, mass-produced plastic products. Today's mindset is buying and throwing after one use is okay.
If you have been following our social media pages for a while now, you would already know that not all plastic items are recycled and, in fact, only 9% of plastic waste globally is recycled. 91% ends up in our landfills or, worse, in our oceans, killing marine species. And why would you recycle perfectly functioning bottles when they can be used more than once? Recycling also consumes energy, so it should be reserved for non-functional plastic items.
So we engage student leaders to pass on the message to the entire school and then set a 'Reuse and Refill your Bottles Day' to instil the concepts of reducing plastic consumption and reusing items as the first action point to beat plastic pollution. This event gives the youth hands-on experience in reusing bottles more than once and for their parents and guardians to know that they now have the option to get refills. We want this reuse-and-refill to become our way of life.
Victoria: We want to expand our product offerings to include natural fabric softeners and other cleaners. We are looking into having fixed places in farther areas.
Victoria: While we have people/households already getting refills regularly, we need to grow our number to make a better impact. And we hope that decision-makers in organizations will also get into refilling since plastic waste does not only accumulate at home but everywhere: government and private offices, restaurants, gyms, schools, salons and shops. The plastic crisis affects all of us. Everyone should do their part: choose to reuse.
Victoria: They can reach us through our Facebook and Instagram pages. They can also send us a message on WhatsApp.
What do you think about Refill To Save Trading LLC? Will you buy their products to help save the environment? Do let us know in the comments below. Do share this article - it keeps us going!
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