New Fredericton zero-waste refillery wants to help community cut out single-use plastics

·3 min read
Josh Barry, owner of North Star Zero-Waste Refillery, said he finds Fredericton to be a young, progressive scene so his goal is to offer high volumes of products at lower prices so a zero-waste option can be available to anyone, including students.   (Kaleigh Betty Photography - image credit)
Josh Barry, owner of North Star Zero-Waste Refillery, said he finds Fredericton to be a young, progressive scene so his goal is to offer high volumes of products at lower prices so a zero-waste option can be available to anyone, including students. (Kaleigh Betty Photography - image credit)

When Josh Barry returned to his hometown of Fredericton three months ago, he was shocked to find there were few options for buying zero-waste refillable beauty products and cleaning supplies.

While living in Toronto for years, Barry would bring his glass containers to a refillery and pay for his beauty and household products by volume, cutting out any single-use plastics that would normally be used for detergents, soaps, cleaners and deodorants.

"So I thought that I needed to fill that space and bring something to Fredericton," he said.

Barry got work on the new venture. North Star Zero-Waste Refillery opened Tuesday in a temporary location out of the basement of the Abbey Cafe and Gallery on Queen Street.

Barry said he finds Fredericton to be a young, progressive scene so his goal is to offer high volumes of products at lower prices so a zero-waste option can be available to anyone, including students.

It provides sustainable solutions for home products that are natural and as close to vegan as possible, said Barry. He said people can bring in their own containers or the business offers free recyclables. The products are weighed out and priced by volume.

Other location in the works

Barry said they plan to move into a permanent space eventually, but its currently under construction.

He also wants the new location to double as a community and events space for art and music pop-ups.

Barry said the project is self-funded so far, which may seem risky, but they said they're well-versed in opening retail locations, having opened or operated seven cannabis stores in Alberta and six in Toronto.

He said that on top of the environmental aspect of the business, he wants the location to be inclusive to everyone, including people of colour, women and the queer community.

"It hopefully will encourage a grassroots movement of leadership in Fredericton," said Barry.

Kaleigh Betty Photography
Kaleigh Betty Photography

Environmental impact

Margaux Khoury, an ethical and corporate start-up advisor based out of New Brunswick and British Columbia, has opened many businesses of her own over the past 20 years. She said becoming an advisor was natural because she wanted to help start-ups that were trying to do better for the earth.

Khoury said animal products and physical packaging have major impacts on the environment.

"With something like what Josh is doing, the impact is so little because he's offering reusable packaging, which is huge," said Khoury. "He's also offering products that are not harmful to our earth — the creation of these products and the ingredients used in the products are not harmful."

She said instead of taking care of the problem later with things like beach clean ups, companies can make preventative choices.

Khoury said she thinks consumers in New Brunswick are ready to make more sustainable choices, but just need to put it into practice.

"But I think companies like what Josh is doing can persuade people and encourage them to make the right choices at stores."

Khoury said that while consumers have a responsibility to choose sustainable products, corporations and governments need to be more responsible.

"The more consumers who demand this, the more it's going to change," she said.

Barry said there will inevitably be more resellers in Atlantic Canada, but he wanted to be one of the first, especially since he already uses most of the products for himself.

He said North Star Zero-Waste Refillery offers a bit of a solution while the city of Fredericton catches up on the recycling front.

"It's kind of like a whole cute date with yourself, you can just bring your matching glassware back and refill them in store," said Barry. "In that way, you're saving money and you're also … [not] contributing plastic to the environment and to Fredericton."