Sustainable Shopping with Refill Pouches

This refill pouch post is sponsored by the Flexible Packaging Association.

It’s April, which may only include one Earth Day (April 22), but the whole month has become a time to discuss sustainability, our environmental status, and anything eco-friendlier! There are a myriad of ways to live more sustainably, but one of my absolute favorites (and the easiest) is bulk buying, including refill pouches.

I’ve complained before how hard it is to always know what’s the best decision for packaging at the store. So we’re just gonna learn a bit more together!

Thankfully there are people who know and study way more about this than me to help. The Flexible Packaging Association is working to not only improve the sustainability factor of effective packaging but also help keep us in the know.

While glass may seem better because it’s made from natural resources and can be reused and recycled, it also requires a lot of energy to produce and recycle.

That’s not to mention the space and weight required to get it from its place of production to where it’s filled with the food or product to the store/warehouse and to your home.

Cardboard is great for many reasons as you can guess, but it’s also usually lined with a coating (because liquids need it and it helps food stay fresh) that usually includes plastic, which has to be handled differently at recycling centers.

Not to mention, cardboard can only be recycled so many times.

So where does that leave us? Should we just all hide under a rock because there’s not perfect option? Of course not.

The truth is, it’s important to look at the whole picture when started to shop sustainably and try to do our best.

Refill Pouches + Bulk Buying

You know I love refill store shopping, but my refill store doesn’t have everything I need and not everyone has access to refill stores. Following the same principle that refill/bulk containers save packaging (thereby saving resources, weight, and waste), I look for smaller “bulk” options for our house.

Enter refill pouches. My first refill pouch was for the Puracy stain remover (after I overheard its praise at a mom event). We use it on our cloth diapers and now for the whole family!

{UPDATE: That stain remover is still a maintain in my clean home clean products – nearly 3 years later]

Since then, I’ve really liked how easy it is to get refills for a few containers at a time. I also love that the flexible bag packaging makes them easier to store!

Try these easy sustainable product swaps to make this year! And check out these 10 easy bathroom sustainable product swaps and practices!

Why Are Refill Pouches Good?

Refill pouches are great are a few reasons…

First, refill pouches save you from having to make more trips to the store or have more deliveries – each trip takes gas and causes emissions. Many refill packs offer more than 2 containers per pouch, saving half the trips!

Second, refill packs require drastically less water and energy to produce than the typical bottles they’re replacing (check out these numbers for shampoo bottles).

Each pouch and bottle are different, but most websites I’ve looked at claim an average of an 80% savings just in the production of the container! Surprising, right?

Third, refill packs are easy to store. I know I’m not the only one who’s been overwhelmed with all the bottles of cleaning products under my sink. And now with C in the house, we’re really trying to cut back in this area. Refill packs store really easily, taking up less and less room as we use the products.

Fourth, and this one is personal and sounds superficial, but I love that I can use all my own glass bottles around the house with my own labels. Instead of having all kinds of mismatched necessities, our house looks chic and all pulled together.

And, finally, refill pouches come in handy for those refilling the best travel containers!

How do You Get the Most Product Out of Pouches?

Remember that one of the best ways to live more sustainability is simply to use up any and all product you have. The landfill doesn’t need your extra cleaning materials or hand lotion!

Depending on the consistency of the product in the refill pouches, there are a few ways to get all that product out.

The first is simply to let the last drips go into your container. I’ve set up a funnel for the refill pouch atop my bottle, leaned it against the wall and let gravity do the work for hours.

Second, you should use your hand to push all the product to the opening. You can lay the nearly empty bag flat and use the side of your hand to push product to the spout (be careful of it coming out).

And finally, you can cut open the pouch (straight across at the bottom is easy) and grab those last bits of product sticking to the sides.

Can You Recycle Refill Pouches?

Most of these refill pouches are labeled as plastic #7 which is pretty much a catchall category and very rarely accepted in curbside recycling. Because of that, these pouches must be put into the trash to be taken care of properly.

Some companies are working on using other recourse to make these pouches as well, which is exciting! Common Good Co refill pouches are actually made from a single type of plastic so they are recyclable through store drop off recycling! See mroe about the refillable cleaning product brand.

TerraCycle does offer boxes and pouches for recycling plastics that include these refill pouches. You can get the smaller pouch here and the small box here.

Additionally, some companies have teamed up with TerraCycle to recycle their refill pouches free of charge to you. You can search here by company to find out if you refill pouches are included!

Who Sells Refill Pouches?

More and more companies are turning to refill options for their customers. Below is a list of a few beauty and home products that are easily found in refills.

And check out this complete skincare line that’s refillable – small, lightweight pouches to refill glass bottles at your home! Read my honest Activist skincare review!


Refill Lotions



Read my complete Innersense hair product review!

Refill Body Washes

Check out these other sustainable bathroom product and practice swaps!

Home Cleaning Refill Pouches

You’ll also be interested in 5 sustainable kitchen swaps and how we’re making our home more sustainable!

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    1. YES!!! They’re so convenient and I’m so happy some of my hard to find products come packaged like this!

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