Plastic Free Shopping

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.

Refill Stores

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.

Planning

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.

The Cost

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.

Quality

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…

YES!

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.

Keep in Touch

If you are enjoying the blog please subscribe so that you don’t miss a post. I am also on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook where I share more of the day to day stuff.

5 thoughts on “Plastic Free Shopping”

  1. Great post! And good on you for trying your best to go plastic free. I wish I lived closer to a refill store (though I do live near the Totnes one in that link of stores) but that is still a good 30 minutes away. I wish more supermarkets would take this on, or more people would cash in on this and have independent small businesses. When you first went plastic free what did you find the easiest to change first?

    1. Thank you. I think the easiest was using beeswax wraps rather than cling film, buying a decent metal water bottle and solid shampoo bars. Just start by making little changes and they start to build up. I still have a long way to go but it finally feels like I am starting to make progress now 😊.

      1. I have seen those beeswax wraps. I think the hardest thing is being in my 20s and living at home it’s harder for me to go about it and get everyone on board. I am jumping on board though and starting to buy a lot of stuff from lush. I’m getting my first shampoo bar this week so I’m excited to see how that goes!

        1. Oh brill, good luck. I found shopping at Lush really helpful for getting started. I bought soap, solid bar deodorant, solid shampoo (lasts for ages), and solid bar facial serum. I can imagine it is tricky trying to reduce plastics whilst living at home. Just concentrate on the small changes and don’t underestimate the impact they have when combined with lots of other people making small changes as well.

          1. Definitely. I love that their products are more natural, and their black pots (when you hand them back) get crushed up and made into new pots so I’m totally going all Lush for now! Very hard definitely, but I’m happy to take it one small step at a time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *