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Plastic Free Zero Waste Refill Shops in the UK

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In the fight against waste in the UK, refill shops are a key weapon. Most of us think about the packaging we buy, trying to minimise the use of plastic bags and disposable wrappers. Often though, supermarkets replace plastic bags with paper ones or plastic bottles with glass. Instead, why not do away with packaging altogether? Zero waste refill shops encourage customers to take their own containers. Each one is weighed and you can fill it with whatever you need. Many of these shops stock mainly organic produce so I thought it would be more expensive to shop at a refill store than at the supermarket. Surprisingly, this wasn’t the case. Here’s a bit more information about refill shops and where to find your local zero waste store.

Large bottles lined up along the shelves of a refill store
Refill Store ShelvesImage by FitNishMedia from Pixabay

The advantages of zero waste refill shops

The most important advantage of refill shops is the environmental benefit. Every time you refill a container, one less item goes to landfill. Even recycling uses a lot of energy and therefore adds to carbon emissions. Reusing the same packaging instead is much better for the environment.

Interestingly, depending on what you are buying and where you shop, refill shops can work out cheaper than supermarkets. That’s despite the fact that many of them stock entirely organic produce. When our local refill shop opened, it took me ages to go because I thought it was going to be expensive. On my first visit, I convinced myself I needed a huge, expensive Kilner jar for my pasta so that trip did work out rather pricey. From then on though, things got a little easier.

I found another Kilner jar in a charity shop for rice (£3 bargain) and started to save my pots from herbs and spices. The next time I went, I managed to fill up all my herb and spice pots and my rice jar for the price I’d usually pay just for the herbs and spices. I think with little things like that, the glass jars really are quite costly so saving on packaging saves money as well as the environment.

The other advantage for me about zero waste stores is that people haven’t cottoned on yet. In our little local one, I’ve never had to queue, it’s always nice and quiet. Getting my pots weighed and filling them up only takes a few minutes and I’m on my way with no waiting around.

spices in small refillable jars
Spices in reusable jars – image by monicore from Pixabay

How do I get plastic free groceries

Not all zero waste shops sell fruit and vegetables. My local one doesn’t do them. That said, it’s a lot easier to get these anywhere without plastic packaging. Most supermarkets, greengrocers, farm shops and organic stores will sell at least a small selection of unpackaged fruit and vegetables. I bought some reusable mesh bags and haven’t experienced anywhere that wasn’t happy for me to use them.

Whether you’re in a refill shop, farm shop, supermarket or elsewhere, they tend to be happy if they can see what’s in the bag. Just take them with you into the shop and pop your fruit and veg into the bag as you collect them from the shelves. Then pay as you would with a disposable bag. The same bags can be used for purchases such as bread and other bakery items.

Loose fruit and vegetables in baskets in a shop
Loose fruit and vegetables – image by Thorsten Blank from Pixabay

Is there a refill shop near me?

Here is a list of refill shops that I’m aware of in the UK, by county. They won’t all have a website but I have linked to a website, Facebook page or local listing where possible. Please do check opening days and times before travelling. If your local refill shop is not listed, please do let me know and I’ll be happy to add it.

Bedfordshire

The Store (Bedford)

Berkshire

True Food Co-op (Reading)

Zero Joe’s (Windsor)

Bristol

Preserve Foods (Bishopston, Redfield and Westbury-on-Trim)

Zero Green (Bristol)

Buckinghamshire

Seed1 (Marlow)

Cambridgeshire

Daily Bread (Cambridge)

Cheshire

Weigh of the World (Northwich)

Cornwall

Gillian’s Larder (Helston)

Incredible Bulk (Mobile) This mobile zero waste shop travels around Cornwall. Head to their website to find out when they’re near you.

The Refill Store (Goonhavern and Truro)

Cumbria

Another Weigh (Kendal and Penrith)

Cut the Wrap (Ulverston)

Derbyshire

Day Zero (Buxton)

Devon

Earth.Food.Love (Totnes)

Nourish (Exeter and Topsham)

Dorset

Cariad (Blandford Forum)

Sunrise Organics (Bournemouth)

Waste Not Want Not (Bridport)

Durham

The Little Refill Shop (Seaham)

Essex

An Ethical Life (Colchester)

Gloucestershire

Food Loose (Cheltenham)

Loose (Stroud)

Hampshire

Naked Pantry (New Milton)

Rice Up (Southampton)

Wild Thyme (Southsea)

Herefordshire

Fodder Basics (Hereford)

Hertfordshire

Bamboo Turtle (Letchworth Garden City)

Refill Pantry (St Albans and Sandridge)

Wholesome Weigh (Hitchen)

Isle of Wight

Peach (Newport)

Kent

Bare Bazaar (Ashford)

The Eco Pantry (Seal Chart)

Unboxed (Canterbury)

Lancashire

Single Step (Lancaster)

TurtleBee (Great Harwood and Padiham)

Leicestershire

Nada (Leicester)

Refill Revolution (Market Harborough)

Lincolnshire

Refill Revolution (Stamford)

London

BYO (Tooting Market)

Bulk Market (Hackney)

Cups and Jars (Forest Gate)

Get Loose (Hackney City Farm)

Harmless (Crouch End)

Mission Green (Hither Green)

Naked Larder (Herne Hill)

Refill Larder (Teddington)

Re:Store (Hackney)

Swop (Lee Green)

The Source (Battersea, Chiswick and West Hampstead)

Unpackaged at Planet Organic – available at these Planet Organic stores

Manchester

A Small Good Thing (Bolton)

Good Life (Stockport)

M2O Refills (Manchester)

Plentiful (Ramsbottom)

Merseyside

Refill (Liverpool)

Unfill (Garston)

Waste Not Want Not (Birkenhead)

Norfolk

Ernie’s Zero Waste Shop (Norwich)

Green Parrot Refill Room (Swaffham)

Re.Source (Norwich)

Northamptonshire

Refill Revolution (Oundle)

Northumberland

The Refill Station (Hexham)

Nottinghamshire

Dash Vegan (Nottingham)

Oxfordshire

Flo’s Refill Shop (Oxford)

Rutland

Rutland Refill (Rutland)

Shropshire

Green Options (Shrewsbury)

Refill Emporium (Market Drayton)

Somerset

Lesser Litter (Taunton)

Staffordshire

Roots Larder (Stafford)

Suffolk

Bury Wholefoods (Bury St Edmunds) – this does not seem to have a physical refill shop but instead they visit the local market on specific days and offer delivery. Full details are on their website.

Health Foods For You (Sudbury)

Surrey

Pedrick’s (Caterham)

Twin Larder (Ash)

Sussex

Harriet’s of Hove (Hove)

Refilled (Chichester)

The Greenhouse (Pulborough)

The Source (Brighton)

Waste Not (Brighton)

Zero Waste Larder (Worthing)

Tyne and Wear

Open House (Gateshead)

The Paddock (High Spen)

Yorkshire

Ectopia (Leeds)

Jarfull (Harrogate)

Panda Refills (Leeds)

Unwrapped (Sheffield)

Waste Not (Ilkley and Burley in Wharfedale)

Warwickshire

Zero (Leamington Spa)

West Midlands

Clean Kilo (Bournville and Digbeth)

Wiltshire

Packaging Not Included (Marlborough)

Worcestershire

GL2 (Malvern) The website for this shop is under development and Facebook is rarely updated so I’ve linked to a local website with information about the refill shop. However, at present the opening times are Tuesdays 10-7.00 and Saturdays 10.00 – 4.00 with the usual Thursday opening not taking place.

Nature’s Intention (Bromsgrove)

Pack It In (Worcester)

Scotland

Eco Larder (Edinburgh)

Locavore (Glasgow)

New Leaf Co-op (Edinburgh)

Refillery (Edinburgh)

Re:Store (Moray)

Sea No Waste (Angus)

Weigh To Go (Edinburgh)

Wales

Happy Planet (Narberth and Cardigan)

Natural Weigh (Powys)

Ripple (Cardiff)

The Little Pantry (Tenby)

Viva Organic (Cardiff)

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2 Comments

  1. January 8, 2021 / 11:16 am

    It is so good to see so many. I was really surprised that I couldn’t get a refill in a local supermarket for spices and things. As you say the jars themselves are quite costly. Must be heavy to transport (compared to card too).

    • January 8, 2021 / 1:27 pm

      Yes you’re right about transporting those jars, especially compared to the light things in them. Refills make so much sense.
      Nat.x

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