An eco-warrior couple have launched Britain’s first zero waste supermarket, where all packaging is banned. Richard Eckersley 28 years old and wife Nicola 27 years old have opened up a shop called Earth Food Love in Totnes, Devon, after being inspired by a similar store in Berlin. Their products are stored in dispensers, with customers required to take their own pots and jars to fill up. Couple now hope to open more outlets in London and Birmingham, following success of their first store. The motto of Earth Food Love is to deliver goods that are ‘ethical, wholesome and organic’. It stocks grains, pastas and even maple syrup, but certain items, such as alcohol and milk, are off the menu. Everyday supermarket items such as packets of crisps are also on banned list as they can have up to seven layers of wrapping. The store has other features that aren’t available at your regular supermarket.
Richard told ‘By far our most popular attraction of the shop is the ‘grind-your-own’ nut butter machines. Filled with both almonds and peanuts, you can re-use your nut butter jar again and again and again, each time filling it with delicious, sticky goodness that’s been ground right in front of you.’ Richard said that he and wife Nicole decided to open store after being inspired by German anti-waste outlet Unperfekthaus. ‘We walked in and immediately thought, why doesn’t this exist in the UK? We came back to the UK and decided to open our own sustainable store. We wanted to go somewhere that we felt would make a difference to the local community, that’s why we moved to Devon’ Richard said.
Explaining what he and wife Nicola hope to achieve, he continued ‘It’s not about price for us. We don’t want to stock items just for the sake of it, it has to be ethical. At the same time, we don’t want to compete with local farms – there are many around here that sell fresh produce already. We’re adding products all of the time, but the supplier has to be right for us. We want to live in a world where consuming doesn’t have to cost the earth. We believe returning to these simple ways will benefit not only our health, but the planets too.’ The shop also uses energy supplied by Gloucestershire-based Ecotricity, who produce clean, renewable gas and electricity.
Richard tells that although it is early days customers seem happy with what they are offering. ‘This week we’ve had an influx of tourists popping in to see what the shop is all about, they’re fascinated. But we have a lot of local residents too – they come in with their own boxes and bags and stock up on what they need’ he added. Earth Food Love stocks its items in bulk, much is locally sourced and biked over by local farmers, such as regionally grown oats. Shoppers have to take their own containers which they then fill, weigh and label and pay for what they are buying by gram.
Shop keeps a supply of compostable paper bags for customers who turn up without their own containers, either accidentally or because they are first-timers. The store’s Zero Waste Lifestyle collection also includes sanitary products, metal shavers that you just need to swap blade on and bamboo toothbrushes that you can just replace bristles on. Since opening, owner Richard tells it has inspired many other shoppers and now he and Nicola have produced their very own guide to ‘setting up your own zero waste shop’. This covers location, budget, suppliers, how to find dispensers and even advice on what to stock and hygiene. ‘In setting up a zero waste shop, you are creating such a huge shift in the way people shop that you are directly influencing positive change, and for that, you should be proud. Remember that is only takes one person to make one change, and the ripple will be felt through the entire ocean’ Richard said.