When Nikki from Saponetti contacted us about our products and let us know that Saponetti was opening a zero waste depot store in Toronto’s west end, we were super pumped (pun intended). We had heard about their refill services and thought they were doing amazing things, so the opportunity for us to work together to offer more refills and reduce waste was a no brainer!
In working together we have gotten to know more about the fabulous owners Nikki Self and Christian Von Seydlitz and we think they are really great! What better way to share more about them with you than with a Q&A? These two are truly awesome individuals and we feel so grateful to have their support and to be able to work with them to offer you guys refills on our products!
So here's some more information about Saponetti, who they are and what they do!
1. What is Zero Waste really? What does it mean to you guys and Saponetti?
For us zero-waste is a direction, a journey of taking responsibility for the impacts our activities have on the environment. Zero waste is really a lifestyle choice. Bea Johnson, in her book “Zero Waste Home” explains, “It’s a life based on experiences instead of things. By going zero-waste, you make room in your life for what matters most to you.” Philosophically speaking, it literally takes us to a place where we can learn about non-attachment to material things and gives us a greater appreciation for the experiences that enrich us at the soul level. At the same time, we get to simplify our material world so we have less stuff to maintain and worry about.
2. We LOVE what you guys are doing in terms of waste reduction and supporting the zero waste lifestyle. What was the final straw for you two? Was there a day that changed it all or have you always been passionate about zero waste?
We started to make radical shifts in our lifestyles about 16 years ago as a result of my personal struggles with chronic migraines. This wellness journey led to a whole process of change in pretty much everything we were doing, what we were eating, and what products we were using in our home and on ourselves. Having grown up in Germany, Christian arrived in Canada already with a strong sense of environmental responsibility around the use of water, power, and waste reduction in general.
3. What is the Saponetti story? When was it born and how did it bring you to the opening of your amazing Depot on Brock Street today?
The truth be told, we had a growing collection of empty plastic containers in our garage that we could not get ourselves to toss into the blue bin. Our consciences were questioning the concept of recycling something just because it’s empty, regardless of the actual life span. In the search for stores to refill them, we ended up compiling information about refill dispensaries and package-free shops that were opening around the globe. I guess we were hoping to find a similar type business here in Toronto.
That’s when we realized that Toronto needed a business specializing in soap refill.
Saponetti – The Soap Refill Delivery Service – opened in the spring of 2016 as an online business focusing on eco-friendly, Canadian brands for personal care and household cleaning products. In the beginning, we still worked at our day jobs and fulfilled orders evenings and weekends. For us it was important to take the time to understand the logistics of a refill service to know how to best serve our customers who are looking to zero-waste (using this as a verb) their daily consumables, like soap and household cleaners.
The feedback has been awesome! Saponetti gained a loyal and dedicated customer base committed to refilling their household needs. Along the way we connected with the Toronto Tool Library and installed two Saponetti refill stations at their Danforth and St. Clair locations. A great partnership based on mutual goals and appreciation. We’re total TTL fans!
Refill, by its very nature, is a “local business”. People who seek out sustainable choices for their daily purchases tend to be community-oriented, so it just made sense to have a bricks & mortar location where people could drop in to refill their own containers. And since we offer a variety of deliciously scented products (as well as unscented), customers like to test the “flavours” (depot joke) before making their purchase. The flagship depot on Brock Avenue quietly opened at the end of April 2018. We didn’t want to make a big deal of it, since we needed some extra training and we benefited from the feedback and opportunity to tweak our new store concept. Maybe we’re due for a Grand Opening party?
4. Tell us a little more about YOU GUYS and how zero waste and Saponetti has changed your lives for the better :)
We are partners in life (17 years) and business. Christian is definitely the more adventurous one and I like to think of myself as the “voice of reason”. The reality is that somewhere in the middle we strike a balance that makes it relatively easy for us to work together and have some fun while we’re at it. We love to spend time in nature and to travel – whether it’s camping under the stars in Algonquin or the Amazonian rainforest, or visiting Christian’s family in Germany and Italy, or my family out in BC. Given that we’re up to our eyeballs in the day to day business operations, we don’t have time for holidays so we make extra efforts – like meditation and some day-trips around southern Ontario - to disconnect from all the time-consuming technology and mental clutter.
Saponetti has changed our lives enormously! Aside from allowing us to cut down on plastic waste in our own home and helping others do the same, it has given us a “purpose project” that allows us to create a livelihood where we can actually do something that makes a positive impact on the planet. Going to work is something I look forward to – challenges and all - because it is rooted in a purpose that is bigger than the job itself.
But one of the best things about Saponetti is this: every day we get to connect with amazing humans who care deeply about the serious environmental issues of our era. Our customers inspire us with their stories of their efforts to live sustainable lifestyles and their passion to insist on better choices. We learn a lot from them and this enriches our experience making us better citizens and environmental stewards.
5. What are 5 tips you could give our readers that would help them to reduce their waste output immediately?
1. Pick the low hanging fruit and start with plastic bags. BYOB.
2. Straws. Another easy one to start with are reusable straws. Canadians dispose 50 million of these suckers every day!
3. Go package-free. Buy your food at bulk stores, refill your soaps at Saponetti (or at any other amazing place that has bulk soap), shop at farmer’s markets for regional fruit and veggies without packaging.
4. If you pick up food at a food court consider a tiffin box. Always carry a refillable water bottle and consider your own cutlery (spork anyone?) You might just inspire someone who’s wondering about your ‘strange’ behaviour…
5. And last but not least, since we opened this interview with a quote from Bea Johnson we would like to share her 5 R’s for going zero-waste: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (and, of course, Refill!)
Photos and Infographic courtesy of Christian Von Seydlitz and Nikki Self.