A local option to kickstart your landfill-free living and find plastic alternatives
By Juliette Fradin
Did you know you had a fun and engaging place to learn about eco-friendly living close by? Let me introduce you to Fullfillery, a brick-and-mortar and online zero-waste shop located in the heart of Takoma Park. It was the very first zero-waste shop to open in the DMV area, in 2019. Rini Saha, Emoke Gaidosh and Susan Cho, Fullfillery’s founders, describe themselves on their website as “a small team focused on helping neighborhood folks approach zero-waste living. Our values include ditching plastic, ensuring ethical sourcing, promoting local goods, and using non-toxic ingredients.”
I talked with Saha, who became a climate activist after realizing recycling was not working the way she thought it should and that people, including her, were not doing enough to reduce their plastic consumption. She’s also the founder of GreenThinker DC, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the D.C. area reduce its waste and carbon footprint.
Fullfillery helps you find easy alternatives for plastics. They sell household goods like wooden brushes and loofah sponges; personal care products like bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste tabs and natural deodorant; and bulk products like cleaning supplies. Everything is in reusable or compostable packaging — or has no packaging at all! One of Saha’s favorite products is the all-purpose cleaning tablet that you drop into a spray bottle filled with water. “It’s a great cleaner that cleans wood and granite,” she said.
The body care products (like shampoo and conditioner bars), kitchen cleaners (Castile soap and dish soap), and laundry products are proudly made within 5 miles of their store. Many of their suppliers are right in the Maryland/D.C. area. “I am willing to pay slightly more to get a plastic-free alternative because I understand my kids will live on this planet longer than I will. For the love of our children, I hope people will not hesitate to embrace this lifestyle,” said Saha.
Fullfillery will take back used containers from their store, and many products come in glass bottles with a refundable deposit. They want to “shift our culture from a throw-away society to one where nothing is wasted and everything gets reused or transformed,” according to their fundraising website.
“Every week, we get more and more customers and interest. We are pleased with the community,” said Saha. “People who are attracted to this [zero-waste] movement are frequently creative, compassionate and ethically sound. It’s a great movement to identify the best humans.”
Saha noted, “Zero-waste is not a term that people should take literally. It is too hard in the modern world to be 100% zero-waste, and it is more of an attitude.” She is confident that the zero-waste movement will become mainstream: “I think parts of it have already. It is popular to use reusable straws now, for instance. We still use disposable plastic in everything, but slowly, one by one, people are finding replacements.”
And the Fullfillery team has bigger plans: They just launched a fundraising campaign with Indiegogo to establish a refill station. The shop already buys its inventory with minimal packaging, but they would like to help everyone do the same. Customers will be able to come to the shop with their own clean containers to fill, and will pay only for the actual weight of the products they purchase. If you don’t bring your own, you’ll pay a deposit and use the containers Fullfillery provides or use paper packaging when appropriate.
The funds will go towards purchasing bulk stock and refill-station equipment (including heavy-duty scales, scoops and funnels), hiring a part-time employee to help customers in the store, and offering workshops and events about zero-waste living.
You can shop directly at their Takoma Park location (7006 Carroll Avenue, Suite 204 — above Mark’s Kitchen), Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you prefer to shop online (fullfillery.com), you can place your order and pick it up at the store or at a lockbox in Takoma Park. The lockbox is accessible 24/7 and works on an honor system; goods should be picked up within a few days.
Fullfillery would like to offer an expanded delivery service and is also actively looking for a lockbox location in Hyattsville. Contact them if your business has a space (indoor or outdoor) or if you think of a friendly, accessible spot in our lovely city.
Juliette Fradin writes bimonthly about zero-waste and slow living.