Any one who reads my blog posts or who follows me on social media will be aware that I have been trying to reduce the amount of plastics I use in the home. This has been with mixed success and I am not ashamed to admit that I still have an awfully long way to go if I am ever going to achieve my goal of a ‘plastic free’ food shop.
One of the steps that I have been meaning to take for a long time is going to a ‘refill’ store to get my dried goods. For those of you who haven’t heard of these stores they basically take shopping back to the days of the older generations, before plastic packaging took over. They sell a range of dried goods and you can take your own containers, scooping the amount you need and then paying for it based on weight.
For anyone attempting to go plastic free this is an obvious first step but these shops are few and far between especially if you live in a rural location. My nearest one is 10 miles away so there is a little bit of a trade off between fuel emissions and reducing plastic. However, with Plastic Free July putting the pressure on all of us wannabes I decided to take the plunge and give it a go.
After months of procrastinating I was pretty excited about finally checking out a refill store and I have been collecting tubs and jars for a while so I had a good stash ready. It took a little bit of planning because I didn’t want to get there and then get over excited and end up buying a whole load of stuff that I didn’t actually need. So I started off by looking on the website and checking what they stocked. I then looked in my cupboards and checked what I needed, writing myself a shopping list.
Stage two was making sure I had enough containers to take with me, although I knew from the shop’s website that they had paper bags and jars that you could buy if I didn’t have enough.
The final part of the plan was to make sure that the trip was worth it as I had decided to go to the new refill store 20 miles from my home. I made a bit of a day trip out of it, taking my daughter and planning in a long promised visit to the toy shop and to the adventure park. This was a good trade off in my mind – I got half an hour in the refill store and my daughter got to go to the park and have a picnic.
So, with all of this build up I bet you are now as excited to hear about my shopping excursion as I am to tell you about it…!
The Refill Store
The Refill Store only opened in May 2018. It is a small shop housed within one of the local markets but don’t let its size put you off as it makes up for it in terms of the range of products it stocks; from cleaning products to toiletries, dried goods and reusable water bottles and cups.
When I got there I did need to ask how it all worked in terms of filling up my random array of pots and tubs but it was all amazingly simple. You simply get all of your containers weighed before you start filling them and the weight is written on to the container in removable ink. You then fill away and when it comes to pricing them up, the weight of the container is simply subtracted off the weight of goods which you have purchased.
I couldn’t really write this post without covering the element which probably deterred me from venturing to this shop sooner and that was the concern that it would be quite a bit more expensive than my usual shopping. So, I kept the receipt and later compared each product with an equivalent product that I would have purchased in the supermarket or another specialist shop. The results actually amazed me.
Overall, the cost of my shop at The Refill Store was 0.59p cheaper then if I had bought equivalent products at a more conventional store. Obviously it depends on whether you normally buy branded or specialist items in your weekly shop, with some items cheaper and some more expensive. However, this saving of £0.59 was before the shop then took a further 10% off my total purchase due to a promotion they were running for Plastic Free July so it actually made it £3.82 cheaper.
Part of the reason for this saving is because the laundry liquid was cheaper than the brand I normally buy and because I have been buying expensive soap from a well known high street shop and the soap at The Refill Store was much cheaper. The every day dried goods tended to be equivalent price to the supermarket or slightly more expensive, as you would expect for a smaller store.
The other thing that surprised me was the quality of the goods that were being sold. Several of the items were much nicer than the brands that I had been buying. This was particularly noticeable in the shower gel, soap and granola. However, the icing on the cake for me was that they sold my favourite brand of earl grey tea but as a loose leaf which made my day as I had been feeling guilty about buying it in tea bag form in a plastic wrapped box.
Will I be returning there to shop again?
I am pretty sure that you already know the answer to this question…
I would be mad not to. Great products, reasonably priced, no waste plastics and I get to use all of the tubs that I have been hoarding for the last few months.
I have also noticed that I now view my containers in a different light. Jars and tubs have become a prized possession which I need to keep for storing my dried goods rather then looking to recycle or dispose of them. I now have an image in my mind of my cupboards, beautifully stocked with dried goods all stored in jars and containers, with no plastic in sight. This is a definite change in my thinking since visiting the Refill Store.
How to Find Your Nearest Refill Store
If you are looking for a refill store near you than this helpful article names a few of them. However, not all stores are named on here as I do know of another great one near me in Penzance called the Weigh Inn which has been open for a long time and sells loose dried goods, so make sure you also ask around locally for your nearest one.