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Planet CLE: A little refill can go a long way to sustainability

Cleveland's first zero-waste refill shop finds steady customer base dedicated to going clean.

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio — A little spark is sometimes all it takes to make a change -- and to take a leap of faith.

"From the day we (finalized our LLC) to day we opened our first brick and mortar, was 88 days."

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For Rocky River native Rachel Regula, that happened during the pandemic.
She quit her job in finance to follow a passion: providing Clevelanders with a place to purchase "clean" products - in a way that was also good for the environment.

"This is a convenient opportunity for you to bring in your own containers and refill them with personal essentials, cleaning products and laundry," Regula said.

Little Spark is Cleveland's first zero waste refill shop, with locations in Rocky River, Chagrin Falls and a partnership with Made Cleveland in Cleveland Heights.

"Cleveland didn't have a refill shop and I was like, we need one. And when we need one now," Regula shared. 

She walked us through the "how to" which might look intimidating, but is really very easy.

First step: B.Y.O.C.: bring your own containers.

"All of us have containers at home, whether we've bought really nice soap dispensers for our bathroom, or we have an empty, dish soap, container, plastic dish, soap container. I don't care what you bring in. If it works for you, it works for us," she said. 

Little Spark does have extra 'recycled' containers on hand, but encourages you to bring your own. 

Next step: Weigh the empty container.

"Then you're going to fill up with whatever product you want, however much you want. It can be one ounce, it can be 16 ounces. It can be a gallon if you desire!" she said with a laugh.

Third step: Return to the scale and weigh again. Subtract the container weight for the final price. 

If you need a little help - no worries, the staff is there to answer questions and lend a hand.

Regula has a good list of suppliers, who meet her clean vision. She gets many recommendations from customers, many of which, she incorporates when she can.

"I knew I wanted to have everything, to refill your home in one place.
And I don't wanna have to go to like ten different stores to find what I want. So I started off there," Regula said.

Little Spark also delivers to businesses, continuing its mission to reuse containers. Its impact is proudly displayed on the wall, with numbers often changing, as the little shop that "could" and "did" -- sparks a growing movement, supporting sustainability.

"We have so many customers that are like, 'thank God you're here. We needed this and thank you for opening a refill shop,'" added Regula.

Little Spark also has a recycling center, for "hard to recycle objects, such as pill bottles, toothpaste tubes, mascara wands and much more. You can find the entire list, and how to turn them in HERE.

Check out Little Spark Refill Shop HERE.  

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