MAPLEWOOD — In just four months, more than 3,000 refills of household goods have been dispensed at a first-of-its-kind store with a "zero-waste" goal.

That was the movement Deanna Taylor-Heacock and her family latched onto when they collectively made a New Year's resolution to reduce waste in their own home, along with the realization that changing recycling regulations probably meant that much of what they intended to be reused was just ending up as more trash.

So at the Good Bottle Refill Shop in Maplewood, Taylor-Heacock's idea is to have people bring in their empty, cleaned-out bottles and jars and be able to refill them with the detergent, soap, shampoo, or other cleaner of their choice.

"Let's face it — my laundry detergent jug, I could have the rest of my life," she said. "There's no need for me to ever throw that away. I just need the liquid once a month."

Good Bottle Refill Shop is the first location like it in New Jersey, but follows a model set by other stores in California, Colorado, and Florida. It's a new concept, Taylor-Heacock said, but it is proving viable, and shows that anyone can make a difference in the community.

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Her first question when setting up was, even if the containers brought in reduce her customers' waste, what about the vessels that contain the liquids she is selling? Luckily, she said many bulk suppliers are "into this just as much as we are," and allow her to send back a used bucket when a liquid is depleted. The supplier then sanitizes that bucket, puts it back into production, and she gets a new bucket.

Many of the items at the Good Bottle Refill Shop were inspired by a "trash audit" that Taylor-Heacock did with her family back when this concept was just playing out within their home. She said these aren't just cleaning liquids and powders, but reusable goods like cloth paper towels, and beeswax wrap instead of plastic.

Otherwise, she said, she noticed the items she was previously using "will be trash in a couple of weeks." And so far, visitors to the shop agree.

"The community has really gotten into this, and they do not hold back with their feedback," she said. "They tell me what products they like. They want this to work."

Good Bottle Refill Shop is located in the General Store Cooperative and Marketplace on Springfield Avenue in Maplewood.

Patrick Lavery is Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming for New Jersey 101.5, and is lead reporter and substitute anchor for "New Jersey's First News." Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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