The rise of sustainable living and the over consumption of single use plastic is hard to ignore, and with plastic washing upon our beaches, even the most beautiful of places can’t escape the damage of consumer culture. While almost all of us want to eat a little better and make informed choices on what we buy, the biggest problem is making achievable changes within the parameters of our busy lives that won’t break the bank. The answer, perhaps, lies in the flurry of zero waste shops popping up across the UK – a plastic-free oasis brimming with fresh and organic, often locally sourced produce, with strict Bring Your Own container policies. Changing the way we shop on a local level is the first step towards changing consumer habits on a mass scale, and while we wait for mainstream supermarkets to catch up with the trend, the opportunities in London to do our bit for the environment are abundant. Scrap your Sainsbury’s carrier bags and plastic clad fridges for an eco-friendly alternative. Here are 5 of our favourites around the big smoke.
Bulk Market – Hackney
Following a stint in Kingsland Road and an inspired crowd-funding campaign, Bulk Market has set up permanent shop in the heart of Hackney. Stocking over 300 items ranging from grains and oil, bamboo toothbrushes to dog food, all products are brandless and where possible – sourced locally from social enterprises, community farms and local projects.
Beauty mavens seeking eco alternatives to their favourite products will rejoice at the stores zero waste DIY Beauty Bar, where customers can whip up their very own cosmetics from a variety of essential oils, dried flower petals, bath salts and natural wax and vitamins – all package and chemical free. With curated recipes tested in store, customers can learn about the ingredients and its properties before creating their own face scrubs, serums, tones and face masks.
Zero – Wimbledon
Drawing inspiration from European style shopping from way back when, Zero’s continental model, Zero is bringing the continental culture of visiting specialist shops for your items to the UK. Rejecting the monopolization of supermarkets, Zero champions small scale bakeries, cheesemongers and growers trading in a more sustainable way. There’s not much you won’t find here; from soap loaves, shampoo bars and toothtabs to organic fresh bread and pastries, raw cacao nibs and reusable make up pads – the list is practically endless. Zero is not only working to help customers make small, eco-friendly changes to the way they shop, but also aims to build a sense of community and shared responsibility through the occasional DIY workshop, where locals can learn how to make their own household items from recyclable materials. Homemade Japanese sponges, anyone?
Gather – Peckham
Open Wednesday to Sunday, five minutes from Peckham Rye Station, Gather’s business model is designed to give half of its profits to growing its offering or donating to environmental charities. Affordability is key, and Gather aims to shed the perception that zero-waste shopping is a privilege for those who can afford it. Small changes are the key to wider change, and Gather encourages its customers to make their own journey towards sustainability. Whether you’re looking to keep things fresh without clingfilm or banish bin liners for good, Gather probably have the answer, or they’ll know someone who will!
Hetu – Clapham Common
It’s chic design alone is enough to warrant a peek inside Hetu – Clapham Common’s Beautifully designed zero waste haven. Wall to wall dispensers are brimming with all the herbs, spices and organic grains an eco-lover could wish for – along essential reusable items including coffee cups and razors. Deco is minimalistic and effortlessly cool, made more so with Kombucha on tap and a nut butter machine allows customers to create their own peanut and almond deliciousness. Veggies are supplied by Odd Box – the sustainable delivery company who rescue wonky and surplus vegetables saved from the scrap heap!
Liberté Chérie, Notting Hill
Bustling Portobello is well known for its chic second-hand fashion hangouts, intsa-grammable coffee shops and boutique, second hand stalls and Liberté Chérie blends right into the mix. Its stylish interior represents a French bakery with its fat, old fashioned jars stuffed with grains, egg-free marshmallows and raw shea butter. Customers can delight in organic puffed quinoa, loose feta and – unusally for a zero waste shop – an abundance of flowers. Sustainable bouquets, bowls of loose garlic give way to a shabby chic brick wall piled with logs and kindling perfect for summer barbeques and winter log burners. You’ll even find eco charcoal here too!