Refill Store Closing the Loop: Giving plastic barrels new life.

Refill Store Closing the Loop: Giving plastic barrels new life.

As a zero waste refill store, we provide refillable home & personal care product options for customers to bring in their own reusable containers and refill them again and again with things like laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, etc. Since we opened our doors in June 2020, we've been able to save over 11,000 plastic bottles from going into our environment and landfills!

In our effort to provide refillable options for our customers, we do our best to close the loop and create as little waste as possible. This means that we bring some of our products to the store in 30 and 55-gallon barrels. The large barrels allow us to use fewer containers and to save reduce our carbon footprint through fewer shipments. 

We've been coordinating with local organizations, farms, and other businesses to give these plastic barrels new life once all of the product inside has been used. Here are some of the ways these barrels are being put to use!

Aloha Animal Sanctuary: Rain Barrels & Garden Planters

Aloha Animal Sanctuary is O'ahu's First 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Sanctuary for Farmed Animals. Located at the base of the lush Ko'olau Mountain Range in Kahalu'u, Kaneohe, Aloha Animal Sanctuary rests on 2 acres of land. Just a hop and a skip from the ocean, the property enjoys the sea breeze and ample rainfall which keeps temperatures mild and cool for the animals.

Their mission is to provide sanctuary for neglected, abused, and/or abandoned animals, and to promote compassion towards these animals through public engagement and education.

Aloha Sanctuary is currently using the barrels cut in half, as planters. See the photos of Phoebe and Carlos when they were babies inside the planters, and Fern in front of them!

In the past they have also used them to store water (before getting running water at the sanctuary), which was extremely helpful and necessary. Before this, they were also trialed as pig waterers, as seen in the last photo with Haku. They tried attaching a pig nipple to the barrel in hopes Haku could push on it to get water out, but we could never get good enough pressure, and he just preferred his water trough. 


4ocean: Microplastic Storage

4ocean is a public benefit corporation and Certified B Corp, committed to ending the ocean plastic crisis. Every 4ocean product purchased pulls one pound of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines. Every pound pulled helps fund their global ocean cleanup operation, supports a growing movement to end the world’s reliance on single-use plastic, and advances our mission to end the ocean plastic crisis.

4ocean gives our barrels new life by using them to store microplastic. They also clean microplastics and nets (recovered from the ocean) with the barrels. Artists are also able to come and take microplastics to use to create art!



Hawaii Freestore: Movable Feast & Edible Weeds

EATING IN PUBLIC (EIP) was founded in 2003 in Hawai‘i by Gaye Chan and Nandita Sharma to nudge a little space outside of the State and capitalist systems. Following the path of pirates and nomads, hunters and gathers, diggers and levelers, they gather at people’s homes, plant free food gardens on private and public land, set up free stores and other autonomous systems of exchange, generally without permission.

We(ed)s is "a 'Sidewalk-to-Table' project on edible weeds. This project aims to upend the bad reputation of weeds. Many are edible, nutritious, and delicious. Many are medicinal, attract pollinators, and replenish depleted soil… Knowledge about edible weeds is timely for our current moment. Climate catastrophe, COVID-19, and intensifying nationalisms have made us more aware of our vulnerabilities than ever before… This moment, however, can also be a wake-up call to recognize that our collective survival depends on our cooperation, rather than competition, with each other."

Eating in Public Hawaii has repurposed our barrels into a Moveable Feast in above-ground planters with local, edible weeds!

Not pictured: farms and gardens

There are so many uses for 30 and 55-gallon plastic barrels in your farms and gardens! Local farms and gardeners are using our barrels for rainwater storage and raised garden beds. Here's a list of possible uses for these barrels:

  • compost bin
  • rain barrel
  • raised garden bed
  • outdoor planter
  • raised beehive
  • outdoor washing station for fruits & vegetables
  • barrel feeder for goats and/or pigs

If you're located on Oahu and interested in repurposing any of our 30 or 55-gallon barrels, send us an email to!