Meet the brains (and legs) behind The Refill Cycle, a greener way to shop
For some of us, the various lockdowns have quite simply comprised of nothing but snack-shovelling and binge-watching, and that’s okay. For others, like Wavertree-based mum-of-three Clare Blair who took the next steps on her mission to stop single-use plastic waste in Liverpool (and beyond), it has been a transformative old time.
If I can make even a small difference, I’ll be a happy lady
Pre-COVID, you’d find Clare DJing at events and venues across town. Today, you’ll find her cycling around town on her bike, delivering refillable household and self-care products to homes all over the city, after starting her own eco-savvy venture, The Refill Cycle.
Let’s hear all about it from the lady herself.
What is The Refill Cycle all about?
Clair Blair: "It’s a concept that in much the same way as the milkman reuses the bottles for milk, I reuse the bottles and tins for my products. So instead of milk, I deliver household and self-care products such as deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, and cleaning sprays; I sell anything from laundry liquid to body wash. I use my bike to deliver the items to people’s front doors and stop for a little gab while I'm there. It's a lovely way to get around and it doesn't impact on the environment, which is what I wanted The Refill Cycle to be all about.
"The products themselves are made by various companies, all of which share the ethos I have for The Refill Cycle. All the products are natural, cruelty-free, biodegradable and vegan. They all believe in reducing waste and operate a circular loop where once I’ve finished with containers, I can then send them back to the companies so they’re able to use them again. Then there are the amazing beauty products from UpCircle, a wonderful company who reuse food waste from cafes in London to make their products - ingenious."
How are your legs holding up?
CB: "Well, after a while you definitely feel the difference in your stamina! I didn't ride a bike before I started The Refill Cycle but I knew that was the solution I wanted to take. At first, my legs were screaming - you know that kind of good-bad pain you get from going to the gym? Oh, and my two girls have learnt to ride bikes since I started."
Has your local community been supportive?
CB: "I’ve had great support from the local community, from neighbours to stores like RELOVED in Wavertree selling my products. It's all been very positive and it’s great to feel the sense of community. I've developed friendships and met people I wouldn’t usually meet going about my day-to-day life, and I've had such lovely feedback about the products. I even have a set of lovely regulars now, which is absolutely the best thing."
What do you love most about Liverpool?
CB: "The people definitely. When I was younger I couldn't wait to leave Liverpool. I wanted to see the big wide world. I did this and will be forever grateful for it, but I missed the people of Liverpool. There’s always a smile or a friend around the corner. When you go into the shops you can strike up an immediate conversation with the person behind the counter and the banter is always top-notch. Scousers or adopted, they just love a good laugh."
What would be your advice to anyone wanting to reinvent themselves right now?
CB: "You've got to just go for it. The old adage that 'life is short' is so true. You might want to sit and mull on it, or you can be scared out of your wits. And if you are that's ok, it shows you care. I'm scared every time I DJ because I don't know if the crowd are going to hate me and ten million things rush through my mind, but I genuinely care about entertaining people with my musical choices. With The Refill Cycle, every time I knock on the door of someone new I feel a bit scared about whether the customer will love the products. You’ve just got to not let your feelings get in the way of life's opportunities."
What does the future hold for The Refill Cycle?
CB: "In the future, I would like to bring in more products that are refillable and reusable. I currently deliver to three miles outside of Wavertree but I'd like to start offering my services further afield. I feel like the idea is growing by the day and more and more people are getting in touch, which is absolutely great. I think lockdown was a big turning point in people's lives in regards to our planet and environment. If I can make even a small difference, I’ll be a happy lady - because that's what The Refill Cycle is all about."
Will we see The Refill Cycle at Glasto one day maybe?
CB: "Oh yes please, can you arrange that for me?! That would be great, wouldn't it? In 2019, there was a single-use plastic ban for water bottles and it really made a difference at the end of the festival. Glastonbury is great when it comes to environmental issues and definitely a leader in that respect. I think a lot more festivals will follow suit if they haven't already. Who knows, I might be there with my bike next time it's on."
DJs or PJs?
CB: "Oh that's a hard one - I love my PJ's during the week. There’s nothing better than a cup of tea and a film on the couch, but I do love being out DJing or watching other DJs. I watch quite a lot of Mixcloud where DJs mix live. Carl Cox is my personal favourite - he's been so entertaining every time and makes me want to jump on the decks the minute he's finished, but then there's also more amateur DJs who are just as talented. It's brilliant to watch."
Liverpool music legend you’d most like to ride a tandem with?
CB: "I think I'd like it to be Pete Best. I think he’d have the most shocking stories and I reckon he'd hate the fact he was on a tandem bike which would just add to the hilarity. Failing Pete, I think James Barton of Cream. He'd have some great stories too."