Sustainable Successes: Zero-Waste Businesses

By: Carolyn Hall | April 4, 2024
Close Up Of Woman Refilling Glass Bottle With Liquid Soap In Sustainable Zero Waste Plastic Free Store

By pioneering a model of sustainability that merges environmental consciousness with practical consumer needs, refill and zero-waste businesses are transforming shopping habits. With a focus on reducing packaging waste, these businesses are not just offering a green alternative but are reshaping the consumer experience. Each of these businesses brings its creativity to the fight against waste, offering both inspiration and practical solutions for a more sustainable lifestyle. With many, you can bring in your own empty and dry container, purchase one, or select from a donated container to utilize. 


1031 Hilton Road, Ferndale

In Metro Detroit, Walking Lightly has helped pioneer the zero waste shop & refillery concept. Tessa Benziger, Walking Lightly’s founder and owner, is driven by a mission to reduce plastic waste and foster sustainable living practices through composting, recycling (even hard-to-recycle items), and workshops. “We help Detroiters reduce their plastic waste by providing refills of home, body & pantry goods,” Benziger explains, emphasizing the inclusive, judgment-free nature of their enterprise. With items for your whole house, ranging from kitchen composters and reusable paper towels to bathroom cleaners and beauty products, Walking Lightly is a must-visit. On April 20, Walking Lightly is hosting its big Earth Day event with giveaways, givebacks, local artists, and more. 

The Silverado is the official sponsor of your next home improvement project.

shelves of pantry items from walking lightly to refill - pasta, nuts, grains
Photo courtesy of Walking Lightly


21524 Harper Avenue, St. Clair Shores

Venturing further into this eco-friendly domain, Refill Emporium shines as Macomb County’s first zero-waste refill store. Shannon Sweetwood, Co-Founder of Refill Emporium, highlights the cornerstone of their ethos: “Our main goal when opening our doors was to make sustainability affordable and accessible to our local communities.” Refill Emporium invites customers to bring their own containers, offering over 70 refillable products that champion clean ingredients. Their efforts don’t stop there; they’re a hub for 30+ specialized recycling programs and a place for learning and celebration through classes and events. Some popular refills are laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, hand soap, deodorant cream, and facial moisturizer. 

refill emporium bottles of hair care and reusable paper towels with street view
Photo courtesy of Refill Emporium


255 East Liberty Street, Suite 215, Ann Arbor

550 Forest Avenue, Suite 4, Plymouth

BYOC Co. stands for Bring Your Own Container Company, a name that succinctly captures its mission. This venture encourages customers to bring their containers, reducing the need for single-use packaging. BYOC Co. offers a wide array of products, from household cleaners and laundry care to personal care items available for refill. Pick from options like shower steamers and solid soap to dryer balls and candle refills. Their approach not only saves plastic but also educates the community on the importance of sustainable living. Stocking many Michigan small businesses, BYOC Co. products are 100% cruelty-free with vegan options too. 


5075 Livernois Road, Troy

86 Plastic is a beacon of low-waste philosophy. Its owner, Claire Mahler, articulates the mission with clarity and purpose: “86 Plastic, a low-waste refill store, champions the movement towards making sustainable shopping more accessible. We offer a refill model that reduces the need for single-use plastic packaging for home, body, and food products,” she shares. Mahler’s vision extends into cultivating a community rooted in education and local, closed-loop businesses. Products range from spices, dried fruits, and grains to toothpaste tablets and cleaning items. 

refill bar at 86 plastic with various containers and bottles with cleaners and products
Photo courtesy of 86 Plastic


4755 Dixie Highway, Waterford Township

Waterford Township holds another sustainable gem with The Red Oak Refillery. Cory Thompson, the Founder & CEO, speaks to a deep-seated belief held by many Americans, noting that “according to in 2020, 80% of Americans believe taking care of the earth is very important.” The refillery answers this call by providing a sustainable option for household cleaners and body care, emphasizing local production by talented women and green, safe products. Try out the laundry soap, body wash, or natural bug spray for the upcoming warm months, and prepare to refill your containers. 

the red oak refillery dish soap bottles and a bamboo scrub brush
Photo courtesy of The Red Oak Refillery