Michaela Barnett is #MadeForKnoxville.

Some problems seem too daunting to even tackle, such as the world’s plastic problem. But to Michaela, a waste and recycling researcher, this is a problem in desperate need of solution and action. So, she got to work — locally. 

KnoxFill, a zero waste refill store, is Michaela’s local solution to a global issue. She manages to simplify this dire need for change with a milkman-like method, right here in our community. With every refill from her store, Michaela is making Knoxville a haven for sustainability, change and equitability. 

“It turns out, most of my life I was looking at trash the wrong way. I was always focused on downstream solutions – things like recycling better or composting more. In other words, how to deal with waste after it’s already waste. I’ve learned since that we have to zoom further back, and make sure that all that waste is never created in the first place.”

KnoxFill 1

In Their Own Words..

I’m a waste and recycling researcher, and after years being engrossed in the awful stats (the grand majority of all plastic ever produced has ended up in landfills and the natural environment, recycling is broken, microplastics have been found in apples and the human placenta, more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, and the list goes on ad nauseum!?) I wanted to do something practical to help fix the problem. I created KnoxFill to be a local solution to our global waste problem. 

We need to radically reimagine the way we produce, use, and dispose of goods, and refilleries are one of the best ways that we’re going to do that. KnoxFill is a zero waste refill store that works like the milkman: we provide you with household and personal care goods in refillable, reusable containers. When they’re empty, we swap them out for full ones. That cycle can continue forever! All the products you need, none of the waste that you don’t.


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