Refilling containers is an easy, three-step process: 1. Bring in your bottle. 2. Weigh it. 3. Fill it up and subtract the weight of the bottle.
Photos by Celeste Cook
Truly Pure Refillery carries a variety of low-to-no-waste products from reusable makeup removing cloths, shampoo and conditioner bars, shaving foam and microplastic-free exfoliators.
Yogurt cups get recycled into a new form with Preserve Toothbrushes.
Photos by Celeste Cook
Truly Pure Refillery is located at 331 W. Hopkins.
Truly Pure Refillery
Recycling plastic has long presented challenges because the same qualities that make it ideal for containing and transporting products also make it difficult to break down in a natural environment.
According to the World Recycling Forum, 2.5 million plastic bottles are thrown away in the US alone. Presently, the oceans contain between 75 and 199 million tons of plastic, and it takes upwards of 450 years to degrade on its own.
Even with efforts within communities like San Marcos, of the 40 million tons of plastic waste generated in the US in 2021, only 5 to 6 % — about two million tons — was actually recycled.
These figures are certainly discouraging, but thanks to forward-minded local businesses like Truly Pure Refillery, all hope is not lost.
Truly Pure Refillery was created to give people the choice of reusing containers for their supplies rather than purchasing yet another piece of single-use plastic. “That’s our mission,” Holly McGarvey, the shop’s owner, said. “Keep it out of the river. Keep it out of landfills. We are being overrun by plastic and garbage that cannot be recycled. This allows people to save that bottle and refill it, and not just throw it in the trash.”
The idea of opening a refill shop originally came from McGarvey’s daughterin- law, Karli, who grew up in Grass Valley, Calif. Upon moving to Texas, Karli learned that there were no refill shops in the state.
“She was surprised to discover there were no refill stores in the area,” Mc-Garvey said. “I wanted to open a shop, and we said, ‘Okay, let’s make it a refill shop.’” The refillery originally opened on San Antonio Street, right before the onset of the Covid-19 quarantine, but because the store carried essential supplies such as soaps and laundry detergent, McGarvey was able to stay in business. Now in a new location at 331 W. Hopkins St., Truly Pure Refillery continues to thrive as repeat customers bring in their containers for organic and zero-waste product refills.
The process is both cost effective and simple. First, the customer brings in their bottles and weighs them. Then they fill the container with the desired amount of product and subtract the weight of the bottle.
“They can bring their own bottles, buy new bottles here, or we have a recycling bin with clean sanitized containers,” McGarvey explained. “Customers pay by the ounce, and they only pay for the product, not the bottle.”
Truly Pure Refillery carries a wide variety of high-quality, organic products. “It’s pretty much everything besides food,” McGarvey said. “We have hair, body, bath, lotions, hand soaps (foaming or regular) laundry, dish, scrubbers for your dishes, scrubbers for your body. And the beauty of it is that you can try an ounce or two of shampoo or household cleaner. If you like it, great! Come back and fill the bottle all the way up.”
McGarvey also stocks reusable zero-waste items that customers can reuse or give as gifts. “We have a wine glass,” she said. “It’s so fun. It just folds right up!”
In addition to the bulk household cleansers, shampoos and soaps for humans, McGarvey provides a line of organic pet care supplies. Another unique feature of the shop is a make-your-own bath salts station where people can experiment with the mix they want for their bath.
“They can add flowers, or epsom or dead sea salt,” McGarvey said. “We have essential oils you can add to your products. We package up some products in smaller containers or spray bottles so they can sample it or give it as a gift. Then they can come back and refill it if they want.”
Because Truly Pure Refillery is committed to the community of San Marcos, McGarvey carries recycled and upcycled art, jewelry and clothing from local artists as well.
“It’s just to save our rivers, lakes, and oceans,” McGarvey said. “We are up to 61,000 plastic bottles saved from landfills and waterways, which is a substantial amount for one small shop in one small town.
Though McGarvey’s refill shop is small and still unique to the state of Texas, word is spreading, bringing regulars from both Austin and San Antonio.
“Sometimes people come in and they say, ‘I don’t even know where to begin.’ We say, ‘Start with one thing.’ Just start somewhere. Use a Swedish dish cloth instead of paper towels. Refill one bottle. Don’t try and get everything at once when you still have stuff at home. Just do one thing at a time.”
As philosopher and historian Howard Zinn said, “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” With this in mind, McGarvey and Truly Pure Refillery is doing their part to save our rivers, one container at a time.
Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.
— Harold Zinn