Photo by Jessica Paschkes
The green scene is growing in the Valley from refill bars for earth-friendly cleansers to cruelty-free cosmetics and biodegradable items for the whole family. Here are a handful of places for sustainable shopping.
A self-identified “choosey label reader,” Jessica Paschkes was frustrated at the lack of plastic-, dye-, and toxin-free products available in northern Westchester, so she decided to create her own. Her Refillery pop-up shop—found at a variety of locations including Pure Barre (Mount Kisco), HV Books for Humanity (Ossining), and Scattered Books (Chappaqua), as well as seasonal farmers markets and events—focuses on products for the kitchen, laundry, and personal care. Refillery has a ton of goods stocked: unscented, eco-friendly dishwashing pods; biodegradable sponges; and concentrated, hypoallergenic laundry detergent strips (a customer favorite) which are sold package-free and can be stored in mason jars or reusable containers. Also popular: biodegradable deodorant, cheek and lip tint, refillable charcoal dental floss, and shampoo bars.
In a quaint red barn at Greig Farm, you’ll find The O Zone Sustainability Center, a bulk-refill market which aims to inspire the community to fight against the climate crisis. Owner Amelia Legare stocks barrels of scented dish soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Not only do the bulk liquids combat the waste of single-use materials, they’re also organic, vegan, and ethically sourced. Plus, you can find: metal food storage containers, recycled toilet paper, cotton muslin bulk bags, all-natural loofahs, and metal razors. The O Zone is involved with the Red Hook community—the staff hosts workshops about low-waste living and engaging with the earth. What’s most impressive is their successful Community Compost CSA—which ranges from Rhinebeck to Hudson: Residents and businesses compost their food scraps and then receive finished compost for their gardens each season.
Evelyn Leong’s zero-waste journey began when she tossed yet another shampoo bottle into the recycling bin and wondered where the container would end up. Years later, her earth-conscious passion transitioned into a sustainable brick-and-mortar store, Bare Minimum Goods, which opened on Broadway in September 2021. The shop’s biggest draw is the refill bar, offering bulk selections of eco-friendly laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap, body wash, facial cleanser, and all-purpose cleaners. Customers can purchase mason jars or reusable containers, or simply bring their own. Leong also sells toothpaste tablets, cruelty-free cosmetic brands, beeswax wrap, and vegan stain remover. For the kiddos there are recycled crayons and colored pencils, hand-knitted stuffed animals, and necklace-making kits. Most brands are small-batch, New York-made, and woman/minority-owned.
Follow RefillRoom’s motto “refill, reuse, repeat!” and you may just get one step closer to creating a sustainable home. Most low-waste shops offer alternatives that replace cheap and harmful plastic products—here, owners Heather Ben-Zvi and Jaclyn Smith hope to tackle the single-use market of household items like cleaning solutions, laundry and dishwasher detergent, soap, and more. Instead of buying harmful, plastic containers that end up in the landfill, bring your own mason or bulk jars and fill up at over two dozen refill stations. You can pay by the ounce or buy pre-filled bottles that can be refilled when you run out. Beyond refillables, peruse through low-waste items like solid cologne bars, reusable Q-tips, and fabric bandages. Your pets can be sustainable, too—RefillRoom stocks compostable waste bags, wooden dog brushes, and pet shampoo.
What started as a chic, low-waste gift and stationary line eight years ago has blossomed into a flagship studio in Brooklyn and a lovely shop on Mill Hill (which opened last April). Owner Sierra Zamarripa still offers greeting cards embedded with wildflower seeds, kids’ craft kits, and books, but the store also carries an array of zero and low-waste bath and body products. We love the multi-use shower steamers—which infuse peppermint, menthol, and eucalyptus scents in bathrooms, bedrooms, or even drawers—and the organic, vegan calendula lotion bars, which are made fresh weekly. Other fun and practical goods include bath salts and face masks (made in-house), bath teas and scrubs, pretty wooden massage brushes, and biodegradable floss and toothbrushes. (The store itself promotes the recycling theme, too—all the studio furnishings are either second-hand or salvaged!)