Reduce, reuse: Desert Refillery brings zero-waste business model to Flagstaff’s Peak Scents | beating

MACKENZIE CHASE Special to the Daily Sun

Refill business models have been popping up in cities all around the world as more and more people consider their role in the health of the planet. Closer to home, Phoenix’s Desert Refillery began to materialize when the owners stumbled upon the Instagram page for Refillery LA.

“We’ve always been eco-friendly, but you only know what you know,” Tiffany Skoyen said of her husband Kyle’s discovery. “When our eyes were opened to it, we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is something we would love to shop at,’ so we started doing research and were like, this is something that Phoenix needs.”

The two decided to fill that need and opened Desert Refillery as a mobile refillery in May 2021. They soon built partnerships with like-minded businesses to stock some of their products and attended farmers markets across the Valley where they encountered endless community support before introducing a brick and mortar location in April of this year. Now, the newest expansion will bring a selection of their sustainable products to Peak Scents in Flagstaff.

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“We’ve started a refill program that we are continuously expanding upon, we’re trying to reduce plastic as much as possible and all of us here are just really passionate about sustainability in general,” Peak Scents employee Holly Zamora said. “So when the opportunity came up for us to collaborate with Desert Refillery it just seemed like the best idea. We have… enough space that we can make it work.”

The community is invited to celebrate this partnership with a grand opening Saturday, August 27, from 10 am to 3 pm The first 20 customers to the Peak Scents Beauty Lab, 1000 E. Butler Ave., Suite 101, will receive a free gift with purchase.

Desert Refillery will be introducing customer favorite products such as shampoo and conditioner bars, refillable liquid soap, wool dryer balls and more to the new refill nook in Flagstaff. They are in good company with other refill stations set up at Snow Mountain River on South Milton Road as well as through independent vendors at community markets.

While Peak Scents customers have been encouraged to bring previously purchased glass bottles of toner and face cleanser to be refilled, the addition of Desert Refillery’s bring-your-own-container model will provide them with the opportunity to reduce their environmental footprint even more. Clean, dry containers can be further sanitized with isopropyl alcohol and then taken to the refillery where they will be weighed before filled with the customer’s product of choice. Desert Refillery’s mission is to make zero waste easy and beautiful, and Skoyen expressed gratitude to receive such positive feedback from customers in all stages of their sustainability journey.

“I think everything helps — that’s something that we really stand behind,” she said. “You don’t have to be zero waste to make a difference. If everybody refilled one bottle a year, that’s a huge difference. That’s millions of bottles diverted from the landfill.”

Contamination in recycling centers is more common than one may think, as recycling rules vary from city to city and many types of plastic are no longer accepted by processing plants. Estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency state that although roughly 75 percent of waste produced in the United States is recyclable, only about 34 percent of that is actually placed in recycling bins and the average contamination rate is 25 percent.

Refilling containers already in circulation is also a very accessible way to approach a more sustainable lifestyle as it doesn’t require people to make large purchases. Another easy way to shift toward a more environmentally friendly self-care routine is by simply researching the ingredients in products currently being used. Zamora mentioned an app she uses called Think Dirty that allows people to scan the barcode of a skincare product to quickly check the sustainability of its ingredients.

“You can even just look up an ingredient and it will tell you how clean it is for the environment and for your body, if there are carcinogenic factors in the ingredients like fragrance particulates that are bad for you if you breathe them in,” she said. “I think educating yourself in that way is one of the best ways to be sustainable in the beauty realm.”

A point of pride for Peak Scents is its dedication to producing river and reef-safe products so clean you could eat them. After all, if something will be going in or on our bodies, it should be as safe as possible to protect our health. Skoyen said she and her husband personally test everything they carry in their store and only stock products that are gentle on Kyle’s sensitive skin and that they believe in 100 percent. They’re proud to provide this resource for Arizona communities.

“We’ve all been wishing for a refill location in Flagstaff,” Zamora said. “We’re hoping that this takes off and we think it’ll just mesh really well with what our goal is here on the sustainability front.”

“Flagstaff really is ready for this,” Skoyen added. “I think Flagstaff was ready for a refillery before Phoenix was, so it’s beyond due.”

Learn more about the two businesses at www.desertrefillery.com and www.peakscents.com, or on Instagram at @desertrefillery and @peakscents.

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