The Local Fill Makes Cornwall Proud with Anti-Greenwashing Efforts

Krystine Therriault - Seaway News
The Local Fill Makes Cornwall Proud with Anti-Greenwashing Efforts
Julie Dennis from The Local Fill putting out stock in her zero waste refill market located in Cornwall, Ontario.

The Local Fill, located on 1515 Pitt St, recently celebrated its three-year anniversary. Founded by Julie Dennis in 2019, The Local Fill is the first zero waste refill market of its kind in the area.

After making frequent trips to Ottawa to shop at a refill market, Julie decided to leave her career in interior design and open a business. Her mission is to give the people of Cornwall the opportunity to reduce waste and shop locally for eco-friendly, sustainable products.

The shop is always updating its offerings with cool and innovative, environmentally friendly products in categories that include bulk food, cleaning, personal care, pet, and to-go essentials.

Recently, Julie showed the community that she is truly committed to her mission to reduce single use plastic. In a Facebook post, she shared that a supplier tried to convince her to buy individually wrapped products. They even told her that she should remove the wrappers and hide the evidence before placing the products on her shelves.

Her response to the supplier in question was, “I like to think of myself as the gate keeper to all products sold in the store. If it’s tested on animals, contains harmful ingredients or is wrapped in plastic, it doesn’t make it on our shelves.”

“If governments aren’t going to step in and make definite and urgent changes, then it’s up to us. I won’t stand by and watch,” wrote Julie.

Greenwashing is a term used to describe companies that use marketing tactics to make themselves appear more environmentally friendly than they are. A couple good examples of greenwashing are:

  • when grocery stores unwrap produce in the back before placing it on the shelves ‘package free’
  • sanitary wipes that are marketed as ‘flushable’ but wreak havoc on plumbing.

“What bothered me most about this comment was that it’s almost a form of greenwashing because you’re making it seem like all the products are green but really in the back warehouse you’re taking stuff apart, and that’s not how we function,” Julie explains, “As a store we’re reinventing the wheel because a lot of bulk products are really difficult to get package free. There’s a lot of work involved in asking a supplier to do these special things and get them to understand why we want it package free because a lot of the time they’re saying, ‘just take it out of the package and the customer won’t be the wiser’ but we can’t do that. It defeats the entire purpose.

Julie shared that most of her suppliers are Canadian based, with many from Montreal and Toronto. Although she’s had to negotiate with suppliers for less packaging in the past, this was the first time she was taken aback by a supplier’s response.

“It’s just hurting everybody else whenever suppliers try to blindside customers and say that stuff is package free when it really isn’t,” she adds, “So we, as consumers, need to do our own research and really think about how we purchase our food and products because a lot of times, were not getting the truth.”

Customers of The Local Fill can expect a lot of new things coming soon, including a frozen food section, yogurt, local greens from Cornerstone Organics, and local farm fresh eggs offered year-round. A move to a larger location can also be expected in the next few years as the store continues to grow and evolve.

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