Great Lakes Refill Co, is Sarnia-Lambton's zero-waste grocery store
GLRC was born from the passion of its two co-founders, sisters Melissa Matthews and Lisa Ladouceur, who began their partnership in July 2018. With the increase of information from across the globe relating to the current plastic crisis, they wanted to bring a wave of change to the Sarnia-Lambton community. They were astounded to discover that the Great Lakes contain a higher density of plastic than areas of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Considering that the Great Lakes are an integral part of the Sarnia-Lambton community and the world’s largest source of fresh drinking water, the over usage and improper disposal of plastic needed to be addressed.
They were both passionate about the environment and wanted to bring package-free solutions and education to the community. They felt the world is changed by example and action rather than opinions, so they set out to be that example in the community and prove reduced waste living can be accessible to all. They were awarded the 2019 Small Business Stewardship Go Green Award from the City of Sarnia for promoting environmental stewardship.
After identifying availability gaps in the market for accessing sustainable and package-free eco-friendly products the business was registered on August 13, 2018 as Great Lakes Refill Company.
The retail space opened its doors on September 7, 2018 at The Downtown Market, 140 Christina St. N. The business began operations for 12 hours a week on Fridays and Saturdays. GLRC offered a small selection of refill products for personal and home care including: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, detergent, dish soap, hand soap, cleaning vinegar and all-purpose cleaner with the mission of reducing and eliminating single-use plastic bottles in which these products are typically retailed. Customers were encouraged to bring in their own containers to fill up on these products.
After a successful year at The Downtown Market, the business relocated to its current location, 454 Christina Street North. It expanded beyond personal and home care products to include bulk and prepared food, home essentials, and sustainable goods such as bathroom, kitchen and household accessories, travel accessories, food storage and bottles and jars, among many other things.
In January 2023, the previous owners sold the business to Laura Greaves. When Laura heard that the business was being put up for sale, she jumped at the opportunity to purchase it. It’s not as though Laura was actively looking for a career change, but when the opportunity arose, she did a quick pivot. She was a long-time customer with a warm place in her heart for Great Lakes Refill Co.
What the previous owners have created is a beautiful space where you can buy products that you can feel good about. Laura looks forward to continuing in this mission. When you shop at Great Lakes Refill Co., you know that you are doing your part for the environment by reducing your plastic waste and your food waste.