Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Reduce, Reuse, Replenish!

Have you noticed how many of your soaps and detergents have “water” listed as their first ingredient? Founder of Replenish, Jason Foster, did. While ironing his shirts, Foster noticed that the can of ironing spray had water as the main ingredient (~90%) while the remaining amount was the actual chemicals and components that made up the ironing spray. His motive was to make a more sustainable way to continue using these products, but not having to pay or ship these products in large containers simply because of the water they hold. His brainstorming lead to Replenish.

The idea of Replenish is to reduce made by non-reusable plastic bottles that hold our detergents and are thrown away once empty. According to statistics listed on Replenish’s website, “only 13% of the 60 million pounds of plastic discarded annually is recycled”. Replenish has created a formula of “Smart Packaging” that has the same spray bottle design but has a detachable bottom (seen below).Screenshot 2017-03-27 at 12.07.42 AM.pngScreenshot 2017-03-27 at 12.11.52 AM.png

The packs of detergent contain the active ingredients that hold concentrated amounts of the 10% active ingredients seen in commercial detergent bottles.  The bottle is reusable, and the packs are uncapped, screw into the bottom. The bottle is then turned over and the detergent is squeezed into a “measuring cup”, then water is added!

Most pods can refill the bottle about 3 times, which saves a vast amount of money and waste that would have accumulated if the same product was bought at a commercial level and the containers were thrown away after just one use. The Replenish CleanPath Products contain All Purpose Cleaner, Bathroom Cleaner, Glass Cleaner, Hand Soaps and Sanitizers, and Replacement Bottles.

A product like this could be attributed to Weisberg’s understanding that creative thinking is a form of problem solving. Jason Foster went beyond analogical thought transfer: seeing a situation, relating it back to a past experience, and transferring it to the new problem. His thought process for Replenish took an old idea of using a concentrated form of powders, juices in the food industry and applying it to household supplies. In an interview, Foster explains that part of his creativity was sparked by the use of concentrated powders by Crystal Light that could be mixed with water from home to make their drinks. Instead of applying what he saw from the food industry to another food product, he looked at concentrating detergents that were over 90% water. His motivation is also intrinsic: he has hope and a desire to make a difference in the world. Foster encourages other companies to adopt the idea of concentrated detergents that can be filled with water at home to reduce the detrimental effects of using plastic and increase the satisfaction of customers when they are receiving the same products (essentially) for less.

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I checked out how much the items cost, the replacement bottles are FREE! And the refills are all around $13 with shipping around $3. The refills come with 4 pods, multiplied that each pod gives 3 “bottles” for a total of 12 “bottles”, making the cost of each “bottle” around $1 without looking at shipping. Cheap and sustainable! Sadly the refills are out of stock, but there is a mailing list for when they come back in stock.  I definitely recommend trying this product out since the mission of this product is sustainability and many have access to water that can be used to form the detergents we need.


  1. This seems like a great product and a step in the right direction in terms of our consumer goods becoming more sustainable and less disposable. I wonder, however, whether or not Foster's motivation can be considered both intrinsic and extrinsic. Certainly, he wants to live up to his own standards of sustainability, however, could we consider that the dire situation of climate change and the seemingly unending cycle of consumption and waste are also extrinsic factors that motivate him to make a change?

  2. I've seen this product before, and I think this is an amazing idea! We use so much plastic in our day to day lives, and this is a great way to reduce that number. It's also pretty cool that he took the idea from Crystal Light. How do you think that other companies, such as Tide, that provide similar products would react to this idea? With the push from consumers for items to be more environmentally friendly, do you think it will push these other big brands to do something similar?

  3. Although it's not completely eliminating waste since the pods that contain the concentrated product must be thrown out after its use, it is much better than three times the waste since each pod is equivalent to three bottles saved. This is a very interesting product because this changes the mode in which we buy products. Instead of buying a whole product once we run out, we buy to refill our own container. If this idea becomes more well-known, the big name companies will have no choice but to adapt to this new form of buyer consumption and this would definitely have a greater impact on the environment. This creative product has both ecumenic implications for the consumer because it is saving them money, but also environmental implications by reducing consumer waste.

  4. The existence of this product has been unbeknownst to me, as I've complained about plastic bottle use for years. The main issue with chemical spray bottles is that you don't want to reuse them after they've been full of cleaner. I wonder how this bottle combats that issue, or if labeling the refill bottles is just the safest bet. Regardless, this solves a problem that has long plagued my semi sustainable home. Glad to know!

  5. My issue with Replenish is that while it does assist with what is certainly a huge issue, it's capitalizing on the concept of sustainability without actually being sustainable. The phenomenon called "greenwashing" has become enough of an issue to merit a definition from Merriam-Webster: "expressions of environmentalist concerns especially as a cover for products, policies, or activities." I think Replenish is an example of this: using the concept of sustainability in profit-seeking endeavors to expand a company's market share. The two main things that I see issue with here are the continued use of plastic, when that is supposedly what Foster wants to reduce, and the lack of transparency surrounding what the ingredients in the cleaning products are. Personally, I make many of my own cleaning supplies using chemical free alternatives such as vinegar, castile soap, and baking soda. This not only saves me money and reduces my plastic uses as I buy the ingredients in large quantities without added water or fillers, but also reduces the number of chemicals being manufactured on my account and being put into the earth or the atmosphere. While I do think Replenish is a better alternative to continuing to buy regular cleaning supplies, I think that it is analogous to a car going south when it needs to go north. Reducing your speed from 60 to 20 stops you from going as far the wrong way, but is still not the same as turning the car around.


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