Refill bar’s ‘Fillosophy’ is sustainable shopping
When Linsay Ogden opened her store in Oliver on Earth Day, April 22, 2021, it was more than just a business – it was a philosophy.
That’s why she named the refillery store at 522 Fairview Road the “Fillosophy Refill Bar.”
“It’s really about getting people to rethink how we buy things,” she said. That means refilling and reusing containers rather than buying items at big-box stores that are bundled in excess plastic packaging. “It’s trying to reduce our waste within the community and hopefully educating people that we can do better,” she said. “It doesn’t mean giving up things you want. It’s just rethinking about how you are purchasing and what your purchasing power really means.”
When you climb the rainbow-coloured steps on the east side of the old church building that is now also home to Popolo, you enter a large room with rows of dispensers along the walls and centre aisles. Liquids like soap and body lotions, solids ranging from dried beans to locally roasted coffee, organic teas, and even vegan candy can be found. There are racks with handmade woolen items, and vats of edible oils (organic of course).
“We support a lot of local and small makers,” Ogden said, adding that while some of the suppliers are from other Canadian provinces, about 90 percent of products are from B.C.
“I think a really important part of the philosophy is creating a network of small makers in one space where people can feel good about what they’re buying,” she added. “They know that they are supporting a family that lives on a four-acre farm, or two sisters who created a deodorant. I think it makes a big difference.”
When people buy locally made products, the money is recycled within the community. Ogden believes that with global supply chains under strain, or cut off by natural disasters, stores like hers that sell local products will become more normal.
“We all need to make changes and the small changes really add up,” she said. “Since we’ve opened, we’ve filled over 7,000 containers so that means over 7,000 containers have not gone to the landfill.”
People can bring their own clean and dry containers to be filled. Containers are also available at the store. Linsay notes that people can buy in tiny quantities to try out shampoos or beauty products, for example, rather than risk buying a larger quantity and wasting it if they don’t like it.
Linsay and her husband David grew up in the Lower Mainland and they moved to Oliver six years ago with their daughter. Four years ago, while on Vancouver Island, Linsay walked into a store that sold locally sourced vegetables, meat and dairy products and also had a refill bar. “It was kind of an inspiration,” she said, adding that she and David have always tried to live sustainably, avoiding paper towels and plastic wraps, and being diligent about recycling.
They surveyed the community on social media, getting hundreds or responses about the kinds of things people were looking for in such a store. Linsay spent many hours online researching suppliers and she also got lots of advice from others in the green community. “It’s a very collaborative industry and so when I reached out to other refilleries, they were happy to hear that there was another person invested in combatting environmental changes and they were happy to tell me who they used,” she said.
David points out that many of the world’s problems can seem hopeless and insurmountable, but this business shows there are positive things an individual can do.
“Kudos to Linsay,” he said. “She’s always been an activist, a go-getter… It’s something we can do that’s a legacy for our daughter. It’s something that the community can say is an option.”
Fillosophy Refill Bar
522 Fairview Road
Oliver, BC V0H 1T0
(250) 498 0402
Story and photos by Richard McGuire