Here at Refill we’re super grateful for all of our dedicated, passionate and all-around incredible volunteers who run local Refill Schemes around the world, powering the Refill revolution in their local area. Let’s get to know some of the Refill heroes behind the Schemes.
Unpackaged Innovation Ltd
Before the concepts of zero waste and the circular economy had developed, Catherine could see that there was a problem with the amount of plastic packaging being used in our modern lives. A true innovator, Catherine set-up Unpackaged in 2006 as the world’s first modern zero waste shop, which has since developed into a leading consultancy with clients such as Waitrose, Planet Organic, Lush, Farmdrop, River Cottage and a host of smaller independent brands and retailers.
Not only has Unpackaged created a new, desirable, sustainable category in modern retailing but Catherine’s passion for developing systems to enable refilling, and reuse, within various food sectors has enabled many other businesses to create real and lasting change.
Get to know the refill hero
Tell us about your Refill Hero – who are they and why are you nominating them?
I would like to nominate Catherine Conway as a Refill Hero. Catherine is the founder of Unpackaged and opened the first modern zero-waste store. I would like to put Catherine forward for this because of her contributions to the refill and reuse movement. She is a pioneer of the zero waste movement which has now become a global trend.
What’s their mission?
Catherine’s mission is to save the world! And to get everyone refilling. She believes that a better world is possible and cares very deeply about the future generations and the need to preserve resources for them. Catherine believes that a world can exist without unnecessary packaging and continues to work with great effort and energy to bring other people into this mindset. She works with retailers and partners to design creative solutions that enable businesses and individuals to reuse and refill.
What’s their biggest success / achievement?
Catherine’s biggest achievement was going from a refill market stall to her own first of its kind shop, to collaborating with partners including Planet Organic and major supermarkets including Waitrose, whilst along the way always thinking about what the future of shopping could look like. She came across many hurdles and was often met with experts telling her refill wouldn’t work, but she persevered.
She is comfortable building a business case for Unpackaged with the senior leaders in businesses to working right across different business departments – supply chain, logistics, marketing and with the team on the shop floor
Catherine has the most amazing and infectious motivation! Anyone who meets her can’t help but love her. She is a brilliant leader of her organisation, a fantastic colleague and partner to those she works with.
Catherine is always striving to do better, to work through problems and barriers and look at how things could be, especially when that’s not easy to see.
Why do you think it’s so important for us to celebrate reuse this World Refill Day?
At Unpackaged, we work with some brilliant retailers who are offering their customers the opportunity to refill and we want to celebrate all the efforts they’re making to be part of the solution!
We know that there’s a long way to go to make refill and reuse mainstream and think a global approach is necessary – we’re so excited to see businesses, charities and customers come together on this day to shout about refill and highlight why it’s important to refill and where they can do it.
Can you share reuse and refill trick for people who want to get started?
Download the refill app as it’s a really handy guide as to what you can refill and where local to you – and it’s growing all the time.