KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A new business is open in South Knoxville and it’s looking to reduce everyday waste. It’s called KnoxFill and is located at 3211 South Haven Road.

It’s the region’s first zero-waste refillery. When you walk inside, you will find hundreds of products from shampoo and laundry detergent to tea and spices.

“It’s really simple. It really just means you can bring your own containers and fill things up by weight,” owner Dr. Michaela Barnett said. “We’re helping solve the problem of single-use packaging and plastic pollution by taking packaging out of the equation so folks can reuse containers over and over again.”

KnoxFill will soon have bulk foods for sale and a variety of package-free products. The store aims to be more sustainable while prioritizing local and regional makers as often as possible.

“One thing I love about our shop is that we prioritize local and regional makers whenever possible. So as you go around the store, you’ll see a lot of signs that, say ‘meet our makers’ and it’s really featuring the local and regional craftspeople that are making everything from our laundry soap to our granola, shampoo bars and so much more,” said Barnett.

Barnett told WATE she earned her doctorate while studying the impact of microplastics on our planet. As she was doing this research, she explained that she was filled with a need to do something that could have a bigger impact on the local community.

“As a researcher, I was studying these issues every single day and other than publishing papers and telling people what we could maybe do about the problem, I felt like the time frame of impact was really long in academia. It’s like, OK, you do this research for years, maybe you get a paper published. Maybe someone does something with it hopefully and I really wanted to solve this problem that I was studying every single day on a local scale within our community and then on the other side of things I really wanted a place like this that I personally could shop at,” said Barnett.

She explained that KnoxFill started out of a storeroom in her house, where they would fill containers brought to them up, and then deliver the filled containers to customers.

“So while I was doing my PhD, I started KnoxFill and we actually started doing weekly delivery. And then we added pickup locations. Then we started doing pop-ups. Then we added more pickup locations. We created a mobile refiller and there was just more and more and more demand,” said Barnett.

This demand led her to find the building in South Knoxville that is now KnoxFill. For their grand opening on Saturday, April 8, Barnett said over 300 people came out to celebrate.

“They braved the rain and the cold and kind of our small parking lot, and they came out and they christened this space and celebrated it. And I think. I feel a lot of gratitude and a lot of hope, because even though KnoxFill is my baby, it’s a community project and it’s only made possible by the thousands and thousands of people in our region that are choosing to refill with us,” she said.