No trash cans: Durham soap business aims to create near-zero waste

Posted February 3, 2020 7:12 a.m. EST
Updated February 3, 2020 11:00 a.m. EST

— A Durham soap business has a mission to create near-zero waste.

There are no trashcans in Fillaree, located at 3117 Guess Road close to downtown Durham. According to owner Alyssa Cherry, it's all about promoting a lifestyle that reduces waste. She joked the only dirty word in the shop is "single-use plastic."

Cherry started selling her products at the Durham Farmers Market before she moved into the 2,000 sq. ft. space. Her soaps are made with all-natural ingredients like cedar and essential oils.


"Everything [we sell] is packaged in metal and glass," she said. "These bottles are essentially the last bottle you'll ever need to buy."

Fillaree customers buy their first soap bottle for $9. After that, they can either mail it or bring it back to the store for a $5 refill when its empty.

"We wash, sanitize it and refill it -- so we are creating zero waste," said Cherry. "Now that we're there it's just going to get easier, because we have a flow now."

Fillaree has partnered with Bryce Northington, who owns Gather Green. Northington's mission is to help businesses prevent waste where possible and deal sensibly with any waste produced.

"We manage your waste and divert as much from the landfill as possible," a statement on the website reads.

Northington monitors a Waste Recovery Station at Cherry's store for paper, plastics and everything else that must be thrown away. "At the end of 2019, we only had 8 pounds of trash that was sent to the landfill," she said.


Dee Dekshita, a Fillaree employee, said adjusting to the "near-zero-waste" lifestyle wasn't easy at first. "When I come to work here, I make sure I don't bring any packaged stuff," Dekshita said.

Cherry said her store prevented over 99% of waste headed for the landfill in 2019. By refilling bottles, the store has saved more than 75,000 bottles from the trash.

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