As consumers move away from single-use plastics, many companies are following suit. From beauty products to personal care items to certain cleaning solutions, many brands are embracing the low-waste mentality.
And now laundry products are getting in on the action. Traverse City, Michigan-based company MyGreenFills introduced what might be the very first refillable laundry service. As a concept, refillable packaging has been around for a while, but even some eco-friendly brands have been unable to make it a reality. Brands like Mrs. Meyers also make non-toxic cleaning products, but MyGreenFills seems to be the first to offer a refillable shipping system.
Your first order from MyGreenFills comes with “the last container you’ll ever need,” and refill packs can be mixed at home with water—eliminating the need for additional plastics.
The MyGreenFills Story
In the early 80s, Michigan mom Ruth Smith faced a dilemma: her kids suffered from severe skin allergies and she was unable to find hypoallergenic soaps that would be safe for her family.
Seemingly left with no other option, she set out to make her own soaps free of chemicals and dyes that might react with her kids’ sensitive skin. After several years of making soap at home, Smith decided to take classes in homeopathy and herbology, turning what was once a necessary pastime into a passionate pursuit.
In 2012, Smith met current MyGreenFills CEO Stephen Ezell. With a shared passion for eco-friendly cleaning products, they both saw the need for change in the laundry industry given the staggering amount of wasted plastic each year. With their refillable laundry system, they’re changing the industry from the inside out.
The Refillable Revolution
From laundry detergent to bathroom cleaner to dish soap—if it’s a cleaning product, MyGreenFills likely makes a non-toxic version. All products are free of harsh chemicals, dyes, and perfumes. Most are scented with natural essential oils, but they offer hypoallergenic, fragrance-free options as well.
Of the laundry detergent container customers receive with their first order, CEO Stephen Ezell says, “The jug is not a consumable, it’s a durable.” More than 1 billion plastic jugs are discarded every year in the U.S. alone, and according to Ezell, many recyclers can’t accommodate these products because of the toxic residue that remains inside the containers. The company estimates it’s saved 3 million single-use plastics from landfills with their refillable business model.
The refill laundry packs are made with biodegradable rice paper. And Ezell has plans to develop a container made from post-consumer resin and waste plastic, with the ultimate goal of using 90 percent or more recycled material.
In addition to laundry detergent, MyGreenFills also makes an alternative to traditional dryer sheets. Called Dryer Angels, the reusable cloth container is hand-sewn by underserved community members in Jamaica, and now Asia thanks to business expansion.
Ezell connected with the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf and learned that 90 percent of the Jamaican deaf community is unemployed. “We fund an entire village that is empowering and equipping the deaf in Jamaica,” he said.
And in Asia: “We fund a couple of safe houses that are getting women out of sex trafficking,” Ezell said. “Once they’re rehabilitated they have sustainable jobs sewing Dryer Angels.”
Social responsibility is also evident here on this continent when the company gave away free soap during the height of the Covid-19 crisis last spring. Every Friday MyGreenFills offered free soap and laundry detergent to local Traverse City residents – all they had to do was bring their own container.
“My desire is not only to help our neighbors in Northern Michigan,” Ezell said, “but also to inspire other business owners…to find creative ways to connect with the public. How can we as business owners and entrepreneurs serve people in a whole new way?”