What was once another eyesore on Pleasant Street has recently been recycled into a new business that offers alternatives to plastic products, allowing Brunswick residents to skip the recycling bin altogether. Opened in November, GoGo Refill encourages a low-waste lifestyle by selling reusable, refillable or compostable products, all with the goal of replacing everyday plastic purchases that often end up in the landfill.
Store owner Laura Marston began her journey to opening the business after a New Year’s resolution to stop using single-use plastic water bottles. In the following weeks, she audited her family’s trash and recycling bins, which opened her eyes to the amount of plastic they were disposing of each week. With the United States only recycling 8.7 percent of plastic waste on average, Marton was aware that recycling was not the answer to preventing single-use plastic from ending up as long-term pollution.
“I just sort of made it my mission to reduce as much as we could in my family,” Marston said. “And so through doing that, I started having these conversations with other people and realized I’m not the only one who’s interested in doing this.”
As she searched for plastic-free alternatives to house and bath products for her home, Marston found limited options for purchasing them in-person. Ordering products online often resulted in what Marston calls a “zero waste fail,” as the plastic-free product would be shipped to her wrapped in plastic packaging. Inspired to make low-waste options more widely-available, Marston opened the first GoGo Refill in South Portland in 2019. Almost immediately, she was encouraged to open a second location in Brunswick.
“As soon as we opened in South Portland, people from Brunswick were coming down to refill,” Marston said. “We had people who would take orders from all of their neighbors and come down to GoGo Refill for everybody and come back and distribute to the people, which was so great. All along the way there were people saying, ‘Brunswick is ready for you.’”
GoGo offers bath and house products including shampoo, lotion, laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner and toothpaste tablets—all sold without a container. To purchase refill products, customers bring their own container and pay by weight. Customers have brought peanut butter and pasta sauce jars, kombucha bottles or emptied detergent pitchers to refill at the store. Customers without a jar can use one from the store’s free “container library” made of reused, donated containers.
In addition to its refill menu, GoGo sells low-waste kitchen and beauty products, including metal and glass reusable containers, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable cloth wipes, menstrual cups and dry shampoo.
For those looking to start reducing their waste impact, Marston encourages taking an inventory of the plastic products used every day and starting with a few sustainable swaps.
“Basically, there’s no wrong way to start. There’s no right way to start. It depends on what you’re interested in for your life,” Marston said.
Marston is optimistic about the Brunswick location’s business thus far, which currently has three employees and is open Wednesday–Sunday. Moreover, Marston is encouraged by the small actions her customers are taking to reduce their waste and make a long-term impact.
“The idea of recycling being the solution to single-use plastic doesn’t work. Our recycling rates are desperately low. A lot of municipalities can’t afford to send all the recyclables that we as consumers want to recycle to actually get recycled,” Marston said. “We have to contribute to the solution by changing our habits as consumers, and that not only affects your personal waste footprint but also encourages producers and companies to give solutions because they see people wanting plastic-free options.”