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Sisters looking to help people incorporate sustainable practices with new downtown business

The Refill Bar offers a tap service to help refill hand soap, shampoo and other liquid cleaners

Two sisters are pouring their love of sustainable living into a new business that aims to help people find simple ways to reduce their consumption.

Katrina Wood and Lindsey Oman are the owners and operators of The Refill Bar, a new sustainability store that has opened in Downtown Guelph.

Located on Quebec Street, the store has a bar with taps to refill hand soap, mouthwash, all-purpose cleaner and more. Residents can purchase a reusable container or bring in their own for multiple top-ups.

“When we walked into this location, I said, ‘This looks like a bar,’” Wood recalls, “And my sister said, ‘You know, we could do draft on tap,’ and it all just sort of came together, and it just sort of firmed the whole thought process behind making something unfamiliar and familiar.”

“And fun,” adds Oman.

Along with their tap service, The Refill Bar also carries eco-friendly products, with a focus on offering ones that are Canadian, or from other small businesses. These products are made using all-natural ingredients, and a majority of their products are vegan and unscented.

While The Refill Bar focuses on sustainability, it is not a zero-waste store. Wood admits she doesn’t like being called zero-waste, because the term puts a lot of pressure on people, making them feel they have to be perfect.

“It’s not about being zero-waste, it’s about finding small, simple ways to reduce,” said Wood.

Besides The Refill Bar, Wood also owns another sustainable business called Eco Refillary, which has a store in Flesherton.

“I took everything that I learned from Eco Refillary and realized that really, people are abhorrent to the idea of refilling and they feel like it has to be all or nothing.”

Attempting to break down sustainability into more realistic steps, the duo is hoping to make reducing waste easier, and fun, for customers.

“Just one person saving one plastic bag times six million people, that’s a huge difference,” said Oman. “If we can just fit one per cent or 10 per cent into each of our lives, then that compiled, is humongous, but I think we forget about that.”

Born and raised in Guelph, the duo are hoping their business will become a central part of the community and a place where people can go to ask questions and learn.

“It really lights me up to think of getting people excited and educating them on things that maybe aren’t so talked about in a way that people are comfortable with,” said Oman.

“We all want to learn together so that we can pass it on to the next guy.”

A grand opening of the store is expected to take place on September 10. Currently, The Refill Bar is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.