Food Scene Column: Refill to reduce your carbon footprint

Hazel Roberts talks about the concept of a refill shop, how it can help you lower your environmental impact and what local shops you can support…

With the COP26 Environmental Summit taking place in Glasgow this November, it is natural to feel a sense of urgency to make changes on a personal level to help tackle climate change.

Fortunately, there are several independent shops locally that can help you lower your environmental impact on everyday essentials.

The concept of a refill shop (or zero waste shop) is very straight forward. Food items are stored loose in large dispensing containers in store and you can bring along your own containers to fill up, thus eliminating the need for packaging and one-use plastic.

However, there are more benefits to these kinds of shops than perhaps first meets the eye.

Run by people who care, they carefully select suppliers who have a circular economy policy on packaging at all stages, who tick fair-trade boxes, and are as ethical and local as possible.

This can help you shop with confidence, knowing that the shop-owners have done their research.

They are a great place to shop if you have special dietary needs too. Many products are naturally vegan-friendly, whilst special ranges of vegan food are also stocked.

If you need to avoid gluten, the separate gluten-free area takes the headache out of your shop.

The type of food that lend themselves to the refill concept are often whole-foods and allow you to easily cook up nutritious meals from scratch or enjoy a guilt-free breakfast.

Oats, lentils, rice, pasta, nuts and an array of dried fruit will give you the ingredients you need to ditch the junk.

But reducing plastic isn’t only about food, and the refill shops also stock products to help you reduce your carbon footprint, such as re-usable cups, food wraps and sanitary pads. There is shampoo, detergent and a range of beauty products too.

When trying to tackle a global problem you can feel that your actions have no impact or that you have no voice, but these small businesses welcome feedback from their customers, allowing people to suggest items that they would like to see in stock.

And being small local businesses themselves, they are keen to support other local businesses so you can often find local honey, jam, sauces, coffee and oil, making it possible to support your local economy all in one location.

Local refill and zero-waste shops include:

  • My Refill Market – High Street, Stony Stratford
  • Nothing Wasted – High Street, Newport Pagnell
  • Molly’s Pantry – Buckingham Road, Bletchley
  • The Green Way 2 Shop – High Street, Olney
  • The Good Life Refill – High Street, Leighton Buzzard

This feature was published in the October/November 2021 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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