Black Rock Refill (BRR) was founded in February 2017 by Samantha Romanick, a molecular biology graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno. BRR’s goal is to provide Reno with reusable and refillable alternatives to plastic products and educate people about waste reduction.
Inspired by Bea Johnson’s book Zero Waste Home, Samantha began her own low waste journey back in 2014 when she realized how much unnecessary plastic waste was produced from everyday items like toothbrushes, plastic cutlery and snack bags, to name a few. That, combined with inspiration taken from the “Leave No Trace” principle of Burning Man (event held annually in the Black Rock Desert), marked the beginning of BRR and its sister company, Campus Refill Initiative (CRI).
Campus Refill Initiative provides UNR students with single-use alternatives like bamboo toothbrushes, refillable household soaps and cleaners, and reusable utensils. These items are available for purchase at the Nevada Wolf Shop. For Romanick, the reason for starting CRI was because she “wanted to be able to educate these students to make more conscious and sustainable choices that will stick with them for the rest of their lives”. It is with this simple message of education and sustainability that BRR and CRI have begun to make an impact on the Reno community.
Since the start of 2019, BRR has been tracking their impact to estimate how many waste products they have replaced with reusable materials. BRR estimates that over 7,000 plastic utensils, 3,120 plastic sandwich bags, 384 chemical dryer sheets, 80 disposable plastic razors, 62 plastic toothbrushes, 40 floss containers, and 26 bottles of laundry detergent have been kept out of the landfill with the purchase of their reusable products.
By paying attention to the various things you use on a daily basis, one can start to understand just how widespread single-use products are. Romanick encourages doing a waste audit of your trash to see just what is being thrown away and to start thinking about what things could be switched out for reusable products.
“Making small alternatives to your everyday lifestyle such as refilling laundry detergent rather than buying a new full bottle every time you run out will make a big impact on our environment.”
Black Rock Refill also partners with TerraCycle and Preserve Products to provide recycling to Reno residents for difficult-to-recycle waste products like toothpaste tubes, contact lenses, and prescription bottles. BRR charges a $1.00 handling fee for 10 items or less and a $2.00 handling fee for 10 or more waste items. Residents can bring their products to the Riverside Farmer’s Market held every Saturday from 9am-12pm (starting in June, the dates will change to every Thursday from 4-8pm) for recycling.
To learn more about Black Rock Refill, go to www.blackrockrefill.com.
Disclaimer: The Nevada Recycles community spotlights are provided as a highlight, not an endorsement or recommendation, of businesses, organizations, and individuals in Nevada.