Refillable amber aptothecary bottles

My very first bulletin post was all about ways to pass on plastic in our daily lives. I got a few messages asking for more tips and tricks and after I posted that and I thought, actually, why be limited to just three bits of advice. There are hundreds if not thousands of small wins we can all do to reduce our environmental impact, and not just relating to plastic consumption. So the ‘Feel Good Friday’ feature was born and every week I’ll share my favourite eco-chic tips. To start off, I’m talkig about the oh-so-popular amber apothecary bottle switch.

Amber refillable bottles are a fantastic way to replace plastic soap dispensers in your home, and quite a sexy one I might add. Although it’s a small change, it is something that guests at my house consistently comment on. People love it, I love it, and I hope you love it, it’s a super easy win on both the environmental and aesthetics front. Instead of doing another tutorial on how to do this (I mean, how hard is it to pour liquid into a bottle?!) I wanted to share a few thoughts on this switch.

aesop_soap and lotion_flickr_lou stejskal.jpg

I have to admit, I was originally much more motivated by the aesthetics of this switch than the environmental benefits (namely reducing the amount of plastic bottles I need to buy in a year). A little backstory here - I have long since judged a pub* by its washrooms/toilets (they’re an endless source of inspiration when done well) and it’s a total bonus when they provide Aesop soaps and lotions (Photo credit: Lou Stejskal, Flickr). The Aesop bottles get me every time: that deep brown glass, the apothecary vibes, and the heavenly aromas. Since paying £27 for soap is not an option for me, I wanted to find a way to find a cost-effective alternative way to get this look and feel into my own home. I sourced my own amber bottles in both 500ml and 250ml size. Only then did it dawn on me that instead of simply decanting my existing 300ml bottles of shampoo and conditioner into their new bottles, this was an opportunity to evaluate how many of those bottles I use and throw out each year. It was a chance to make a positive environmental impact by just buying one big bottle per year.  

The point is, yes, replacing all the soap, shampoo, and lotion dispensers in your home with refillable amber bottles can have a positive environmental impact - but if, and only if, you buy your soaps lotions and shampoos in bulk. This may seem obvious, but I see SO many tutorials about amber bottles and very often they stop short of suggesting bulk buying. Simply decanting gets you there on the aesthetic front, but it doesn’t reduce your plastic consumption. So the point here is - buy in bulk!


For shampoo, why not try this Faith in Nature coconut shampoo which is UK-made, vegan, and generally delicious. This lavender and geranium conditioner is made by the same folks, and both can be delivered to your house. Bonus! For hand soap, we use this Ecover Lavender and Aloe Vera hand soap and it’s absolutely divine. (Also 15% off right now from (UK only)). Alternatively, check those zero waste shops I linked to in my first post - I know in Cardiff alone, both shops sell bulk toiletries. To be honest, I struggle to find the body lotion I use in larger quantities, so that’s a compromise from me. I’m only human after all. For sourcing the amber bottles, I hesitate to suggest you look at a well known e-commerce giant, starting with A, for ethical reasons. As an alternative, you can source bottles (I like the black pumps) from here in the UK or here in the US.

To sum up, I’ve made a little #thegoodthebadtheugly graphic for you. What do you think?

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of refillable amber bottles

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of refillable amber bottles

* (pub = public house = bar, for the American readers)

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