Business & Real Estate

Reducing plastic is goal at Sacramento’s Refill Madness

Sloane Read is bringing a new sort of BYO concept to retailing, with customers using their own bottles for refills of kitchen, laundry, bath and body products.
Sloane Read is bringing a new sort of BYO concept to retailing, with customers using their own bottles for refills of kitchen, laundry, bath and body products. bshallit@sacbee.com

Sloane Read does a modest business at her new shop, Refill Madness, in midtown Sacramento.

But the 34-year-old entrepreneur says each sale makes a difference when it comes to saving the planet.

“It’s all about reducing the amount of plastic that’s manufactured and reducing the fossil fuels that go into that process,” she said.

Her business opened three months ago at 1828 29th St. and offers bulk quantities of “green” laundry and dish detergents, shampoos and body lotions, among other products.

Customers bring in their empty containers for refill – and go home with supplies purchased at what’s often a big discount to what they would pay if they bought them in packages at stores. The shop also sells high-quality plastic and glass containers suitable for multiple refills.

Read, a former substitute teacher, said the zero-waste movement is gaining traction and she figured Sacramentans would embrace a store that allowed them to buy high-quality, biodegradable products while reducing their use of disposable plastic.

Squeezed into the 880-square-foot store are a variety of popular brands such as Dr. Bronner’s, EO, Biokleen and Ecos.

The prices aren’t as cheap as those for conventional bath, body, kitchen and laundry goods.

“It’s not Palmolive or Dawn,” she said of her wares. “It’s a little more expensive because you’re getting high-quality products.”

But by supplying their own containers, customers pay about 25 percent less for some products than if they’d acquired them in packages.

We’re also getting rid of some of the waste that ends up in our river systems and oceans, wreaking so much havoc.

Sloane Read, Refill Madness

Read said she hopes to expand into new sorts of goods as customers ask for them. One request she’s heard repeatedly: Provide refills of cat litter.

So far, she’s been unable to find a supplier who provides that product in bulk quantities with eco-friendly ingredients.

Making her task more challenging, Read is determined to buy goods only from suppliers on the West Coast to avoid the carbon toll caused by long-distance shipping.

As for the business’s name, it was suggested by one of Read’s three business partners. She didn’t like it at first.

But she’s warmed to it as customers – especially baby boomers – come in and smile, remembering a hilariously-bad anti-marijuana propaganda film that was popular in the 1970s.

Of the name, she said, “It’s definitely grown on me.”

Office jewel hits market

Suddenly, every building on Capitol Mall seems to be for sale.

The latest office tower to hit the market is what many consider the city’s premier high-rise – the 30-story Wells Fargo Center at 400 Capitol Mall.

Houston-based Hines, which bought the building in 2007 as part of a massive multiproperty deal, is now marketing it through Eastdil Secured, according to real estate sources.

The 24-year-old, 507,000-square-foot building is home to a branch of its namesake bank, many of the city’s top law and accounting firms and Il Fornaio Italian restaurant and bakery.

We reported earlier this week that the 25-story U.S. Bank Tower at 621 Capitol Mall was on the market. That followed news that a smaller building at 520 Capitol Mall also was for sale.

Why the rash of sales? Real estate experts say investors are eager to cash in on a fast-improving real estate market that’s being driven by construction of the Golden 1 Center and increased demand for downtown office space.

As for Hines, the global real estate investor and property manager remains a big player in the regional market, managing or owning about 3.5 million square feet of space. Earlier this month it teamed up with JMA Ventures of San Francisco and Oaktree Capital Management to buy the 378,000-square-foot state office complex at 1515 S. St.

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