What is it?
A shop without plastic packaging. You bring your own containers to fill with food, toiletries, and household cleaning products. You can also get lots of cool stuff to help you cut down on single use items like straws and water bottles.
Who’s it for?
Anyone who wants to reduce the amount of rubbish they produce. Also, it’s great for gifts, natural products, all-organic food and, in my opinion, a happy glimpse of the future. Bring spray bottles to refill, jars, and reusable bags.
The more of us there are, the more power we have to lobby suppliers to reduce plastic packaging.
How to get there
Waste Not Want Not is on Bridport high street. This small Dorset town is five minutes from the beach, and it’s a fishy foodie haven.
Sometime in my teens, I decided that plastic packaging was an insanity that could be solved if we went back to an old-fashioned style of shopping. There would be jars and bins full of store cupboard staples that were weighed out for you by a helpful member of staff. You’d bring your own reusable tubs, tins and jars, and walk away with nothing that you didn’t need.
Now, these places are real. They’re called zero waste shops and they’re popping up everywhere.
The difference between my fantasy and the reality is that zero waste stores are much cooler than I expected. Also, you usually serve yourself.
When I stumbled on Waste Not Want Not, I was so moved, so overwhelmingly happy, that I couldn’t speak to the store’s owner, Lydia, or buy anything. I just admired the store, grinning and feeling like an idiot, and left.
Two days later, I returned, and plucked up the courage to chat to Lydia and ask her if I could take a few photos for Plastic Free Spirit. We got chatting. I asked about how the bulk products got to the store – were some of them wrapped in plastic?
I wasn’t surprised by her answer, because I’d spent two years working at a spiritual retreat centre and often bulk-ordered from Suma and Essential. But I’d hoped things had moved on.
Wholefood suppliers are stuck in a battle between keeping their foods fresh for a long time, and going plastic-free. And so far, according to what I’ve read, plastic is winning. Still, bulk-buying makes a huge difference to plastic waste, and plenty of stuff in this all-organic store comes without any packaging at all.
“Why, are you thinking of setting up your own store?” Lydia asked.
“Um, kind of. Maybe,” I said, and smiled.
Lydia instantly put me onto a Facebook support group for people who want to set up their own zero waste business.
Far from being anti-competition, the zero waste industry is collaborative and supportive of newcomers.
Unless you’re setting up right on another company’s doorstep, other business owners are all about sharing ideas, successes, challenges, and useful tips.
“The more of us there are, the more power we have to lobby suppliers to reduce plastic packaging,” Lydia explained.
I joined the Facebook group the very next day.
What do you think of zero waste shops? Let me know with a comment.