Saponettit.Ca – the future is about refill

Saponetti.Ca soap delivery
Saponetti.Ca soap delivery

For us the future is all about refill.

Greening our cleaning is a mandate of most of us choosing a Zero Waste lifestyle, this week Zero Waste Canada interviews Saponetti.Ca, the soap refill delivery service on Toronto Ontario.

Owner Nikki von Seydlitz explains how Saponentti.Ca offers both convenience and less packaging.

How did you decide to start a soap delivery service In Toronto?

 Saponetti is the result of a search for a solution to our own personal conundrum about all the empty containers we were tossing into the blue bin after only a single use. With refill options in Toronto being almost non-existent we realized that were probably not alone and that a lot of people would likely refill their soap and other cleaning product containers if it were easy and convenient. This impulse was the beginning of the process that lead my husband and I to offer this service.


Can you tell us about the products you offer? Are they made in Canada?

The product lines we carry are made here in Canada by suppliers who are focused on creating products that are environmentally friendly and safe for health and home. Soaps and detergents for all your homecare needs area available fragrance-free as well as scented with essential oils and organic ingredients. Recently we added shower gel as an intro into personal care essentials and we plan to expand our inventory offering as we grow our business.


Does your company have a mandate on what products you carry?

It is important that our suppliers share our vision for a more sustainable future so in that way we are selective. The companies we work with do things differently because they are more conscious of the impact their activities have on the environment as well as their communities. We love that by working with smaller manufacturers we are able connect with the humanity behind the brand.


How do the products you offer help folks to reduce waste?

Refilling completely eliminates the cycle of plastic waste.


As a company that offers refills for cleaning and personal care do you have any challenges for standardized measurements using mason jars?

We have simplified our refill process by offering all our refill products in either 500ml & 1L mason jars so we don’t need to be concerned about matching the volume of the original product package. Refill is a type of bulk purchase which means better value for our customers.


When products come in packages is all the packaging recyclable?

Yes, all our packaging is recyclable.


As an entrepreneur launching a small company did you have a marketing strategy to find your niche?

Because we started in our local community we targeted our neighborhood first with postcards delivered door-to-door and also left in local coffee shops and retail outlets introducing our service. From there news spread via word of mouth. Everyone uses soap but our target market is essentially “millennial mom” so we are working to develop our social media strategy to connect with our customers where they hang out. Also, we are participating in local events to connect with members of our community who are already thinking like us.


Several of the small businesses Zero Waste Canada has interviewed have benefitted from small business incubators or mentorship programs, did you have any support for your start-up?

So far, we haven’t benefited from any of these programs however we are definitely doing our homework and connecting with the community networks and various programs that could be a good fit to take our business to the next level.


Who is your customer base? Have you encountered any specific demographics?

Essentially anyone who is concerned about their environmental footprint fits our customer profile however we are finding that millennials and especially millennial moms are most interested in this service.


Your company also helps businesses to “green” their cleaning, do you find that offices, restaurants and other businesses have a desire to use more earth-friendly products with less packaging?

Offices and other businesses are responding to employee and customer attitudes regarding environmental awareness. Businesses with sustainability policies in place are looking for innovative and simple ways to green their operations and refilling essentials like dish soap and hand soap not only eliminates waste but is cost effective as well.


What kind of vehicle do you use to deliver soap?

Because our clients order typically once per month or even every couple of months the volume of deliveries is still manageable enough for us to be able to use our own vehicle. At the end of this month we will be updating our Jetta wagon to a hybrid vehicle so we can minimize our emissions while making deliveries. We are also in conversation with a local eco-friendly delivery service that uses electric cars and bicycles as another way to increase our service area.


If a person fills out the on-line delivery form when will they receive delivery?

Currently we tell our clients 5-7 business days to fulfill an order but typically we respond within 3-5 days.


Do you have a regular clientele that use your service?

Happily, yes!


As a “milkman” style of delivery do you feel that have more interaction with your customers?

Definitely! When we develop new client relationships people often share how thrilled they are about the service we are offering and we get to connect with them on a more personal level allowing us to learn more about their needs and how we can develop our business to meet those needs.


What did you do before Saponetti Inc.?

My background is in interior design but recently I have been involved in commercial project with a primary focus on managing the projects LEED requirements in order to qualify for green building certification. I am actually just finishing up a project now and will be full-time with Saponetti in the next few weeks. Christian, my husband and business partner, is working as a graphic designer in an ad agency by day and dives into Saponetti business evenings and weekends. We will be ramping up our operations over the next few months and hope to be able to develop our client base so that we can both commit 100% of our time to this business.


What are your dreams for Saponetti Inc.?

We want to change the way people buy everyday household staples. Our dream is to grow Saponetti and develop delivery networks with electric vehicles across southern Ontario and beyond. For us the future is all about refill.nikki-at-warehouse_150dpi


More and more entrepreneurs are realizing the creating Zero Waste solutions can grow business opportunity and have a positive impact. Zero Waste Canada will continue to feature the efforts of Canadians making a difference.

Saponetti.Ca has a website and facebook page.

Our Material Selves; We Are Over-Stuffed

clutter-360058_640Forget the Christmas turkey; we are the ones who are over-stuffed. Our lives, homes, bodies, businesses, shops, backyards are filled with stuff. We are part of a tsunami of consumption. As we drown in the masses of objects and products we bring into our lives we fail to see the environmental impact of the resources we are using.

The earth’s natural resources are finite, which means if we use them continuously we will exhaust them. Evidence is that at the present rate of growth in their use, we are near peak extraction for many sources of energy and materials. Peak oil has had the most attention. No one knows whether we are at peak oil now, or within another decade or so, but it does not have an infinite horizon. Peak does not mean that we run completely out. It means that we can no longer extract at an increasing rate. After hitting peak, the annual draw of any virgin material cannot support continued growth in its use. Indeed, assuming two percent annual growth in use, even iron ore will hit a peak within 50 years.

The air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil we need to grow food are all impacted by our desire for stuff, but we continue to accumulate and to make room for more or newer stuff we dispose of stuff.

Author James Wallman , Stuffocation: Living More With Less (2015, Penguin), writes that Western countries are “stuffocating” under the weight of our possessions, he writes that we have more possessions than we need or use, and this stuff is not only cluttering our lives but it is stressing us.. it might even be killing us.

Many of us can relate to the feeling that James Wallman writes about, ““Stuffocation is that feeling you get when you look in your bulging wardrobe and can’t find a thing to wear; when you have to fight through piles of stuff you don’t use to find the thing you need, and when someone gives you a present and your gut reaction isn’t ‘thank you,’ but ‘what on earth makes you think I could possibly want or need that pointless piece of stuff?’

James Wallman is promoting The Experience Revolution to help people be happier by nudging them less stuff and more experiences. He believes that individuals, businesses and governments have a part in this revolution.

Do we really have too much stuff? Yes. Everything from shoes , toys and just stuff. We have lots of stuff. Imagine the average American household is filled with over 300,000 things.

With all these things you may wonder if there is room for actual living. U.C.L.A. researchers tackled the question of when does all the things stuffing our homes become too much. The anthropologists were given access to 32 “ordinary” middleclass families to document how they lived. The study produced the book, “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors” and a web series called “A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance”

Consumerism is not new in our culture but many factors have created the hyper consumerism we see today. “The Empire of Things : How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth to The Twenty-First” by Frank Trentmann documents the history of consumerism as he writes of the many reasons that our society is moving faster with consumption accompanying the faster pace. As The Program Director for The Culture of Consumption project , a program the consisted of 26 projects that looked at the changing dynamics of consumption, past and present, and the implications for the future. Included in the programs presentations was a short overview of 4 ½ Lessons About Consumption

Frank Trentmann ,Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London believes we can learn from history and that history can prove how we can create change. His lecture recorded at The London School of Economics and Political Science is well worth listening to.

There may be no silver bullet to save the day, but we can all work harder at changing our habits and behaviours. We can learn to reduce and support others to change. We can become more mindful of the impact of our material selves.


Christmas Plan Not To Waste

xmas- under the tree

Santa’s bag of goodies need not create your bag of trash.

Household waste can increase more than 25% in the holiday season. This Christmas season take action to prevent and reduce waste. Take a few moments from shopping or thinking of dancing sugar plums to develop a Christmas Zero Waste Action Plan. The reason for the plan is to organize your household and activities so that it is easy to take the necessary actions to reduce waste.

Consider these tips to help you with your Zero Waste Action Plan.

  1. RETHINK CHRISTMAS: One of the greatest gifts that we can give to all inhabitants of the world is to conserve resources for the future and to reduce the impact of our environmental footprint. By adopting a Zero Waste approach in our own lives we not only give a gift of a better future but we save animals, soil and air. Sometimes we confuse trying to create an abundance of joy with an abundance of stuff.   Plan to reduce consumption and increase interaction with family, friends or community. Remember that Christmas is about the traditions not the stuff.
  2. K.I.S.S.: Christmas is not perfect and it is not a competition. The principle of K.I.S.S (keep it simple Santa) is good working principle when organising decorating, gift-giving and food.  The reward for trying to compete for “best and biggest” or competing with Martha Stewart or the Jones to produce the most extravagant Christmas is unnecessary stress and usually lots of waste.
  3. MINDFUL SHOPPING: Before acquiring more stuff, ask yourself if you really need it. Consider renting, borrowing or sharing equipment and products you may have limited use for. Being mindful of what kind of products we bring into our lives is the best way to avoid generating waste afterwards.
  4. TAKE STOCK: What do you have in the cupboards and refrigerator that needs used? Incorporate the food items that need to be used in your holiday menu and find recipes that use ingredients that you have on hand. Before going out to buy the spice, check if you have it.
  5. Set a budget for Christmas expenditure and stick to it.
  6. Plan your shopping trips and stick to a list of planned purchases.
  7. Learn what you can about the recycling, composting, reuse, and garbage programs in your community. Many communities have websites and apps to with useful information about what materials can be recycled and composted. Follow the program rules .Avoid bringing products into your life that cannot be recycled or composted or reused in your community.
  8. Have discard management plan. Have recycling, compost and garbage containers labelled and ready and where they are needed. Instead of that big black garbage bag after present unwrapping have containers to separate reuse and repurpose, recyclables and waste. Contamination in recycling and compost is a real problem for community programs at Christmas.
  9. Enlist a cleanup team. Make clean up part of the celebration as socializing can still happen as you put leftovers away. This is a great time for kids to teach adults about recycling and adults to teach kids about reducing food waste.
  10. Plan your menu and be realistic about portion sizes. When planning on how much food is needed take into account if guests have been snacking, children, picky eaters and variety of items and total amount of food served (do you need to subtract some portions) If you are not sure of how much food will be required, check out this handy serving calculator on the LOVE FOOD Hate Waste site When planning menu think about storage and leftovers. Have a plan to use leftovers
  11. Have storage containers ready for leftovers. Use your freezer as a lifeline to rescue leftovers for another time.
  12. Give doggy bags to guests who may not finish meals.
  13. Share leftovers with someone who did not have a Christmas dinner.
  14. Avoid single use items like plastic utensils, and paper plates instead opt instead for cloth napkins, cutlery and china. Do not be afraid to mix and match or borrow.


Organizing your celebrations with a Zero Waste Action Plan will cut out stress, waste and save both time and money.



Christmas Leftover Recipe


We would like to share this recipe from Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun Food and Science beat writer, science reporter for TV’s Empowered Health, Green Man Blogger, author of Grow What You Eat. Eat What You Grow.Grow What You Eat, Eat What You Grow


Turkey and Stars Soup

(Recipe from Grow What You Eat, Eat What You Grow, courtesy Randy Shore Arsenal Press)

Boxing Day soup is how Darcy and I turn Christmas Day’s frenzy of feasting into a next-day cleanse. It also puts to immediate use the large pot of turkey stock we cooked we cooked after dinner the night before. The kids prefer this soup with star-shaped semolina noodles called stelline, but any small semolina pasts will work. However, our kids beg for Turkey and Stars and yours will, too.


2 tbsp olive oil

2 cups (500ml) diced onions

2 cups (500ml) diced carrots

2 cups (500ml) diced celery

2 tsp kosher salt

1tsp fresh ground pepper

1tsp fresh thyme leaves

½ cup (125ml) pinot grigio

12 cups (3L) turkey stock

11/4 cups (250g) stelline pasta

1 cup (250ml) diced green beans

3 cups (750ml) cubed leftover turkey

Parsley for garnish

In a large soup pot on medium low heat, add olive oil, carrots, celery, salt, pepper and thyme. Stir occasionally until softened, about five minutes. Add wine and reduce for 3 minutes. Add stock, bring to a boil and add the pasta stirring continuously for about one minute to prevent sticking, then simmer 10 minutes. Taste stock and adjust seasoning. Add green beans and turkey, simmer another 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve with a turkey sandwich. Make 8 servings



Rethink Christmas : Traditions not Stuff

cookie-1832175_640The Christmas spirit is about the traditions not the stuff.

Christmas is coming, one of the largest celebrations that takes place around the world. . In the course of the season’s festivities we sometimes confuse creating an abundance of joy with creating an abundance of stuff. We need to create the feelings of abundance without all the consumption and all the waste.

Many of us are thinking about our Christmas celebrations. Our thoughts may be about food, gifts, shopping, travel, finance, family and the memories of Christmas past.   Zero Waste Canada asks you to RETHINK CHRISTMAS. This year create the spirit of Christmas with traditions instead of stuff.

Many of us would have difficulty listing gifts we received last year or the year before but we remember the interactions of with loved ones and friends, and the shared experiences. Remember the experiences and traditions that made past Christmas celebrations memorable. Traditions and rituals can be very simple like Dad making breakfast on Christmas morning or the family decorating the tree or the after-dinner walk.

Ellen Galinsky, cofounder of The Families and Work Institute describes a survey in which she asked children what they would remember most about their childhood. The majority of the kids talked about simple everyday family dinners, holiday get-togethers, and bedtime stories.

Christmas traditions and rituals do not have to be restricted to families.   For those who may find themselves alone, it is about redefining traditions and giving the gift of self-love. Perhaps Christmas dinner becomes the potluck gathering at the church or community hall.

Creating traditions and rituals is not about perfection.  Rethinking expectations can relieve the pressure of celebrating Christmas. Keep it simple and think about giving kindness to yourself and others.

Remember that traditions and rituals can change and adapt to life changes.

Traditions and rituals can provide a source of self-identity, and strengthen bonds between family, friends and community. Creating traditions and rituals can offer comfort and security. Values can be imparted and reinforced with traditions and rituals.

Traditions are not really about the stuff but the action or experience. Christmas traditions and rituals are about producing the outcome of peace, love and acceptance.

A paper published in the Journal of Happiness Studies by researchers Tim Kasser of Knox College and Kennon M. Sheldon of the University of Missouri-Columbia. After studying the Christmas experiences of 117 individuals, they found that people who emphasized time spent with families and meaningful religious or spiritual activities had merrier Christmases.

Zero Waste Canada asks you to RETHINK Christmas. Think less about giving stuff and more about the traditions and rituals that create the Christmas feeling.



10 Zero Waste Christmas tradition shares

  1. Sing. Sing to yourself or go caroling. “We try to carol to widows or those we know are alone for the holidays. Some of the older people we’ve caroled to have told us they remember people caroling when they were children.”
  2. Decorate a tree. If you don’t have a tree maybe decorate a branch outdoors with homemade bird treats .Or volunteer to help decorate a tree at a hospital or seniors’ home. Donate your time and decoration to brighten another person’s Christmas.
  3. Share a Christmas meal with family or friends (new or old).  Save and share any leftovers.
  4. Take a walk to look at the wonders of the world around you. Perhaps you look at Christmas lights, trees, the beach or interesting buildings but you are looking and exploring.
  5. Express yourself creatively. Make a snowman, write a poem or make a craft with recycled materials.
  6. Reminisce: Share family history or stories.
  7. Pose for a picture and share the picture via email or social media with family and friends.
  8. Revisit your childhood by playing childhood board games, or watching favourite movies or reading favourite books. Board games and movies and books can often be borrowed from libraries.
  9. Take part.  Go to a Christmas event or church service .Volunteer at a Christmas charity or event.
  10. Surprise. Surprise someone with an act of kindness.

Freezer is a lifeline to reduce food waste

berries-919006_640In Canada, the average household wastes about 275 kilograms of food each year. Much of this waste is unnecessary. A better understanding of how to freeze foods safely could significantly help us to reduce our staggering amounts of discarded food.

Inaccurate portion sizes, confusion about safe consumption and sell-by dates, and the low cost to households of over-purchasing and wasting food are among factors blamed for our wasteful behaviour.

Our freezers can be a lifeline to rescue food and drink from being discarded.

Research published by the Food and Standards Agency in the UK identified a number of “myths” that prevent people from using their freezers to reduce food waste. Results of study showed that 43% of those interviewed think that food should only be frozen on the day of purchase to be safe; 38% incorrectly said it is dangerous to refreeze meat after it has been cooked; and 36% wrongly believe that food can become unsafe to eat while in the freezer. Their research also found that 90% of people said there are foods they would never freeze. Almost a quarter (23%) of those surveyed would never freeze meat that was cooked after defrosting, with 73% of these people said they had concerns about food poisoning.

Learning about using our freezers as an effective tool for reducing waste and preserving food will definitely expand the Zero Waste solutions we can enact at home.

The freezer is like a “time-out” for foods that may be discarded because the “use by” or “ best before dates” are approaching. Once the food if frozen it will not spoil, and then when you want to use it defrost in the fridge and use within 24 hours. It is a pretty simple lifeline to rescue food.

We can save all kinds of food in the freezer.

Here are some of the foods that can be frozen:

Eggs: eggs can be frozen but not in shell

Potatoes: cooked potatoes work best for freezing ; you can boil for 5 minutes and freeze for later. You can also freeze left-over mashed potatoes and other cooked potato dishes.

Milk: remember that as a liquid milk expands when frozen  so it is important to make sure there is space in container for milk to expand. Shake well when thawed.

Cheese : All cheeses can be frozen, but do keep in mind that freezing can affect their texture and character. This is why thawed cheeses are best used for cooking. You can freeze cheeses, in pieces of 500 g or less, for up to two months. Make sure they are carefully wrapped in plastic wrap and place them in an airtight freezer bag. As with all types of cheeses, it is important to cool before freezing, and to allow the cheese to thaw slowly in the refrigerator, which allows it to regain the humidity lost while frozen.

Bread : wrap bread snugly to reduce air space.

Flour: freezing your whole grain flours greatly slows down how quickly these flours spoil, and protects them from pest infestation.

Spices: freeze fresh herbs

Left-over meat: leftover cooked beef, pork, or chicken can be frozen. Freezing can add up to three months to the safe storage life of most types of meat.

Rice: cooked rice is better frozen than stored in fridge.

Before tossing food consider throwing it a lifeline by freezing and rescuing for use.