This blog is part of our series bringing to your attention people or projects that we want to cheer on as we develop a culture of mutual support and encouragement at Planet and People. Our interests are broad - women in business, environmental living, the climate crisis, educating the next generation. It’s all worth shouting about!
Bethia: Our latest “hurray” goes to The House of Green on Bampton Street in Tiverton, Devon - and any other zero waste shops battling the struggles of high street business to help us make better choices for the environment.
‘The House of Green’ is run by Denise and Nick - it’s a brilliant local opportunity for anyone who wants to live more lightly on this planet. It’s full of better choices - organic produce, waste-free items, plastic free options, locally produced and small business delights! As we know though, COVID-19 and the general decline of the high street makes it really tough to keep these shops going - they NEED our support. We need to get offline and back out into the real world!
Why is reducing waste important? I heard today that the world’s richest 20% consume 16 times more than the world’s poorest 20%. A huge part of that consumption is packaging; plastic bottles, tin cans - all the things that are used once from the supermarket shelf to our food cupboards and end up in the bin. Zero waste shops are a KEY part in addressing this huge problem. Recycling is great, but there are many problems with recycling. The absolute BEST choice we can make is to go for zero waste options and leave out the landfill. Let’s enjoy our basics without any of the accompanying rubbish.
Many of us care about these problems - so what keeps some of us from supporting shops like the House of Green?
“It’s more expensive”. Yes, it can be. This is something that put me off too. Until I had a mindset change.
First mindset change: We have become too used to cheap food. The chart below shows the huge change in spending on food between 1957 and 2017.
I was challenged by a good friend when I put this argument up for not changing my shopping and eating habits and he’s right - we spend less and value less when it comes to food. Why else would we in the UK waste 10 million tonnes of food a year?
Second mindset change: Spending less elsewhere can help - i.e. second hand clothes. I converted to second-hand clothes shopping a while ago. I pay roughly £5 for a t-shirt now compared to £15 previously. That’s a big saving. That’s money that I can divert elsewhere now to zero waste food shopping.
“It’s less convenient” - we’ve also become a bit addicted to convenience. This is again a mindset. So, it’s easier to drive to a big supermarket, whizz round and do the shop in one go. Or even sit on the sofa at home and do it online. But could it possibly be far more enjoyable and meaningful to take more time to visit your high street, meet a friend for coffee while you’re there, get to know the people you are buying from and slow down a bit?!
OK, I’m sold. But how does it work?
Collect your containers - ice cream tubs, kilner jars (be warned though, I have learnt the hard way - these are heavy to lug around and clink together so that you sound like a woman with a wine problem) or whatever you have knocking around. Don’t worry if you forget - many of these shops provide paper bags too.
Ask if you are not sure, but most refill shops start with weighing your container, they provide scoops - you just scoop out the amount you need (I have no concept of weight so I do it by the it-looks-enough method), re-weigh your container, have a chat (because there’s time and space for that here) and pay!
Just give it a try. I couldn’t recommend converting to refill shopping enough!
FOR PLANET AND PEOPLE is a regular blog conversation by ‘Planet & People’ to reflect our values and behaviours and encourage open conversation on topical eco-issues.
We are the creators of 'Planet Action Kit', inspiring kids to LOVE the Earth. PAK is an educational resource and subscription activity box providing personalised learning resources engaging budding planet-friendly kids. The activities focus on the four main themes: Love, Observe, inVolve and Enjoy and are centred around matters of environment and sustainability. We run Planet Action Workshops at our eco-base in Devon where we develop the next generation of planet protectors using adapted materials from our Planet Action Kit.