Refill Revolution is where it all began! Market Harborough's very first zero-waste shop, somewhere you can refill your empty jars, tubs and containers for a sustainable weekly shop.
The two Beths (Beth and The Other Beth - or The Beths, take your pick!) began this journey almost three years ago. After running Refill Revolution together, they have been making sustainable shopping mainstream since June 2018, at shops in Market Harborough Indoor Market, Oundle Wharf, and recently in Stamford too.
Inspired by the amazing local producers they'd met along the way, they then decided this wasn't enough and had a vision to create a Village.
Now, who would want to do a thing like that, hey?!
How Refill Revolution all began.
Refill Revolution was started by accident.
Beth Lambert decided that there needed to be an easier and efficient way for families to shop more sustainably. Despite being on maternity leave with her second baby, she thought she didn't *quite* have enough to do, and so decided to set up a Pop Up shop at Nature's Pantry in Market Harborough for a Saturday in June.
The Pop Up was a huge success, with queues of people forming down the street, clutching their empty jars and reusable shopping bags. Beth then thought "Well, now what?!", so she then promptly handed in her notice at her serious city job and hasn't looked back since. Often.
After securing a permanent home at the Indoor Market in Harborough, she was soon joined by Beth Awdry, and the two made a great team. Beth Lambert was a whirlwind, always plotting and planning three stages ahead, and Beth Awdry was meticulous and methodical, keeping the essential detail in check (along with keeping Beth Lambert in check. Sometimes.).
The business grew as customers found products they really loved, making the switch from mainstream brands both interesting and fun. Beth worked hard on researching suppliers that truly matched her high ethical standards, to bring a whole range of dry foods, cleaning liquids, toiletries, and household goods that are sustainably sourced and zero waste.
With Beth's whirlwind nature and forward-planning brain, they didn't stand at one shop for long. Soon enough, Refill Revolution was set up as a franchise model, with further shops opening in Oundle Wharf and Stamford.
Why the Eco Village?
From working together at the Market, it allowed The Beths to meet a whole network of small and local businesses, producers, and growers. Inspired by everything that they stood for, the two had a vision forming that they just couldn't shake.
To be able to extend the product offer far beyond something possible for Refill alone, and to truly make sustainable shopping easy and convenient for busy, modern lives, Beth set about creating her now-infamous mind map for an Eco Village.
The pair knew the urgency of issues surrounding climate change, but also acutely aware of its enormity. Instead, they wanted to champion small steps, allowing customers an opportunity to reduce their impact on the planet but without the overwhelm. They knew the power that could come from collective change and wanted to bring together the inspirational businesses they'd met along the way.
Sustainability steps for Refill Revolution.
At its heart, Refill Revolution is all about sustainability. Refill allows customers the opportunity to buy high quality, organic, and ethically-produced dried foods such as pasta, rice, nuts, cereal, pulses, grains, herbs and spices, but without the need for wasteful packaging.
This way of shopping also supports a move back to cooking meals from scratch. Stocking our pantry and cupboards with wholesome ingredients, and knowing exactly what has gone into producing each meal, along with traceable ingredient origins.
On a much deeper level, Refill Revolution encompasses issues surrounding food security; buying from trusted small producers that can sustain the level of output needed, without overusing precious resources.
Same too for household liquids. By stocking from incredible local businesses such as Fill, Beth knows exactly how, when and where those goods are produced; all using a fully circular supply system too.
By extending the range to include everyday household items that offer plastic-free, biodegradable, compostable and vegan-friendly alternatives to those found in the supermarket aisles, is something The Beths are extremely passionate about offering.
They know more than anyone how busy life can be, juggling work, family and personal commitments doesn't lend itself naturally to shopping in this way! However, they have a clear focus on supporting customers on their own journey without judgement or preaching - life is tough enough! But by offering products they believe in, and in an accessible way of shopping, then they appreciate the collective power this can achieve instead.
Continuous improvements for Refill Revolution.
In under three years, the product range has developed enormously! From a tiny unit at the Indoor Market (which they still trade from, too!), the space at the Eco Village has allowed the pair to diversify the product range in greater depth, now stocking over 500 lines! (Which then still grows each week, Beth gets quite carried away at times!).
There are always improvements to make, Beth really isn't one to sit back and take things easy! By her own admission Refill Revolution is not perfectly zero waste, nor would she claim it to be. Every item produced has waste on some level, whether that's packaging, processes, energy or resources of some kind.
However, she is intent on improving those at every opportunity, to be as low-waste as possible. By working together to learn, grow and make continuous improvements, then the business will continue to evolve with it in the same way.
Some of the issues addressed by shopping sustainably can mean a potentially uneasy look at how we consume products, feed our families, and treat the land that we live on. However, it is always Refill's aim to help support positive changes in an honest and light-hearted way.
And if you've ever heard either of The Beths chatting with customers on a Saturday, then you'll know this to be true!
Future goals for Refill Revolution.
Beth Lambert just IS a future goal, her mind never stops! She is always plotting, planning and working out a budget for SOMETHING. Mark our words, she'll be thinking up something right now.
These can change by the second, some forgotten as quickly as they arrive. Others take hold and take her on a journey, along with the entrusted team and community of people she builds for these visions. It can be a complete whirlwind, but it's always fun!
Who knows what she has planned for the future, we don't even dare ask. Extending the range of Refill franchisees? Probably. Setting up another Eco Village somewhere else? Perhaps. Changing the world one refill at a time? Most definitely.
Watch out, everyone!
Things you probably didn't know about Beth...
- Beth and her friend (not The Other Beth, but Another Friend - she has another one) share the same birthdays, and so do four of their kids - the same day, month AND year. Which is super freaky, but also handy for remembering cards.
- As we learnt earlier, Beth started Refill Revolution by accident, she thought she'd have a lovely Pop Up but then never thought about what might actually happen next. What a wally.
- Beth first went to Glastonbury when she was eleven, with her sister. (That explains a LOT). Her last festival was Shambala with her family in 2019, which was amazing.
- Beth spent more time researching cloth nappies for her firstborn than she spent in lectures in her whole first year of uni. She's yet to decide if she should be ashamed of this fact, or proud.
- Beth was upgraded on a flight to New York once and still wears the PJ's to bed. It was AT LEAST eight years ago. We're not sure if this is super eco, or just tight.
- Beth was an ice cream lady when she was a kid. No, we're not sure how that works either.
Find out more about Refill Revolution.
Refill Revolution can be found at the heart of our Eco Village, as soon as you walk through the gates then Refill is straight ahead. Admittedly, this is now the exit and you access it via the Main Room, but you can see your final destination at least!
But you can have a lovely time mooching around the EcoFresh building, grabbing a coffee from the Two Old Goats, and then seeing everything the Main Room has to offer before getting your refills. Or vice versa. We're easy.