Four years ago, Megan Gill and her husband embarked on their low-waste journey. They started taking stock of the single-use plastics, recyclables and non-recyclables that were coming into their home and did what they could to reduce, reuse and recycle.
But Gill said she knew that wasn’t enough. Most of the everyday essentials she and her husband needed to purchase came in plastics or contributed to the waste stream.
“Shortly after that, we realized we were still creating a good amount of food waste and that recycling wasn’t the solution. Most things like plastics and cardboard are downcycled to landfills so we took a deeper look at what that meant for us at home,” Gill said.
So, she came up with a plan — The Good Fill.
The Good Fill is an online and Nashville-based package-free store that aims to offer sustainable alternatives to everyday essentials, because Gill said we all need to eat, use a toothbrush and clean our bodies, homes and bathrooms.
“I came up with the idea for the shop around the same time but spent months doing research. Practicing living almost completely without creating trash was exhausting — it was always at the forefront of our thoughts throughout the day. I felt guilty anytime I ended up with something as small as a twist tie. We quickly realized that it was too much pressure on us with the lack of options available, and I wanted to alleviate that pressure by providing access to alternatives to the most wasteful things we use or come in contact with every day.”
What started as an online shop in 2017 is now Nashville’s first entirely package-free retailer.
It is the country's wasteful mentality, Gill says, that she hopes to begin to address on a small scale with the store.
“We have created wasteful systems and ways of thinking that serve us temporarily but don’t consider the consequences beyond our personal convenience. When people take a second look at the trash they create, they’re forced to think more intentionally about their consumption decisions. When things are no longer seen as easily disposed of, you start to question why you bought it, where it came from, how long can you make it last and where it’s going when you no longer need it,” she said. “My hope is that zero-waste shopping opens the conversation to the very real impact consumer culture has on communities, particularly low-income communities of color. We have to take responsibility for changing our habits because no one is going to do it for us.”
Kate Mason, who maintains the online zero-waste resource Reduce Reuse Nashville, said she is thrilled by the opening of The Good Fill. After living in New Orleans and seeing firsthand the impact that single-use plastics and the overall waste stream can have on coastal communities, Mason began making the shift to living a zero-waste lifestyle.
“It’s important to think critically about how our daily, individual choices impact choices the government and large corporations make on behalf of our planet, and I think The Good Fill is a great entry point for many Nashvillians into the sustainability movement. It shows us there are ways to consume more responsibly without relying so heavily on disposables,” she said. “It’s my hope that more people start thinking about the very real impact our throwaway culture has on our neighbors and that this gets people thinking about changes they can make in their own lives. Then, we can begin to focus on the harder, systemic changes that need to be made.”
Gill said for those looking to make small changes, single-use plastics are a good place to begin.
“Things like plastic grocery and produce bags, disposable water bottles, cups and cutlery, coffee cups — these are easily avoided by bring-your-own alternatives, and you don’t need a fancy cup, bag or bamboo fork to make those changes,” she said. “Reuse, reuse, reuse what you have. I love what we sell and believe in our products and their makers but if you have a mason jar and lid, you now have a to-go container, reusable water bottle and a coffee cup. Use what you have until it’s no longer practical. There are a lot of fancy new zero-waste items for sale out there, but the point of the movement is to reduce and reuse before you purchase again.”
The Good Fill is located at 1006 Fatherland St, Suite 303 in East Nashville.