20 Zero Waste Shops across Herts & Beds
The eco shopping scene is thriving and there are lots of plastic free options. Re-style the weekly shop with guilt-free groceries, cleaning products, gifts and more.
By the time I finished researching this piece, I had vowed to head to The Refill Pantry in St Albans to stock up, had signed up to a local community veg box scheme, discovered a packaging-free flower delivery service, with the blooms grown a few miles from my house, and I’m now on the look out for a milkman.
We all know that sustainable living is super important, and, thankfully, it’s getting easier and easier to achieve. In this first installment (farm shops and local veg deliveries to come – there’s just so much out there, which is great!), I’ve sought out the best zero waste shops in Herts & Beds, and there are loads of options. Time to re-think your weekly shop, perhaps.
First up is the Refill Pantry in St Albans Established by Celina Mendoza in 2018, this fill-em-up shop, stocks everyday groceries, such as rice, nuts, pasta, dried fruit, chocolate and cleaning and beauty products, including jars of toothpaste. And, Celina also sells Hertfordshire-grown quinoa, chia seeds, red haricot beans and olive-green lentils, rapeseed oil from Sawbridgeworth and St Albans-made granola. Who knew that they could grow in Herts!
This is a local grocery delivery service. You join up (there’s a £10 initial fee), receive your first order of all things refillable (you’re getting the idea by now – pasta, rice, condiments, toiletries, cleaning products) in re-usable containers. You use’ em up, re-order and return your containers – easy peasy! This competitively priced service delivers weekly to the Hitchin area on Sundays and Mondays and fortnightly to East Beds and Cambridge.
Bamboo Turtle, Letchworth Garden City, was the first zero waste shop in Herts, and it is still one of the best. It stocks the usual dry goods, and does a great line in alternative toiletries, bamboo straws, cleaning products, and even gifts and cards. Bamboo Turtle also hosts sustainable pop ups above the store – for example, recently, with Deli Dot Zero and sustainable fashion initiative, the Pre-loved Project. Oh, and if you’re looking for recipe inspiration, check out the Bamboo Turtle recipe page.
For predominantly fair trade and/or organic products and from Growers Co-Operatives with the least air miles possible, try Wholesome Weigh, Hitchin. There’s a huge range of products on offer here – including gorgeous Faith in Nature toiletries, shampoo bars and soaps; award winning raw vegan chocolate from the wonderful local artisan chocolate maker Raw Spirit, loose leaf teams (did you know that most tea bags contain plastic?) and gorgeous local produce (including black garlic form nearby Sandy). And, a lot of the products are supermarket price matched – so it won’t cost the earth to save it.
Operating from a stall at Berkhamsted Market, The Clean Earth Pantry (stocking everyday items, toiletries, cleaning products and local produce) has given Berko residents an alternative to single-use plastic. The team will return to the market from the 12 September, after operating a delivery service throughout lockdown.
Now this is a slightly different set up. Eat 17 has a few stores – mostly in London, but one in Bishop’s Stortford. The team also works alongside convenience stores, and this happens to be in a SPAR. But don’t let that put you off – this sharply designed shop/cafe is not your everyday corner shop! The offerings are local, low waste and totally delicious – think Bishop’s stortford honey, locally made sausage rolls and pastries, awesome sourdough, refills, and locally roasted coffee.
Before we move on to Beds, it’s definitely worth mentioning B. Green Store – an eco-friendly village store, coffee shop and community hub between Hertford and Welwyn; Vida Eco Shop – an online zero waste shop, based out of Hertfordshire; Greenherts in Bishops Stortford, The Green Stores in Croxley Green and The Refill Project, Chesham. Who knew there were so many options!
The Store is Bedford’s first exclusively zero-waste outfit. They offer the full gambit – pulses and everyday groceries, which your pour into your jars and Tupperware from the neat (and fun – children love them btw) machines that line the walls; nut butter (crushed on site), cleaning products, toiletries, and also, locally grown, flowers and fresh produce. They also stock gifts, such as chocolatey treats and gorgeous smellies.
This well-stocked refill and sustainable product shop is the brain child of French native, Karen, who decided to go eco when she had her first baby, and was shocked by the potential waste bringing up a child would create. She bought a set of cloth nappies, and she was off. Karen now supplies excellent packing-free quality, organic, and local food, eco-accessories and gifts from her Milton Keynes-based store.
This much-loved local gift shop offer refills for all your bathroom needs (I’m thinking of getting some chic glass dispensers on the side of the bath. Nice right?) – shampoo, conditioner, soap, shower gel. And they also offer detergents and other household cleaners, as well as bamboo toothbrushes and eco-friendly period options (don’t be scared, they’ve come a long way).
Suds, Milton Keynes
The founder of this soapy heaven was brought up with herbalism, and learned which herbs and plants could help which ailments at a young age. This wisdom has now been brought to the gorgeous range of medicinal, and also just delightfully scented, sustainably created, zero-waste bath products that are Suds’ mainstay. Each bar or jar is labelled with compostable paper, so they’re 100% guilt free.
Sustainable Life Market, Bedford
The markets are swinging back in to action after a quiet few months, and there is one event on the horizon that is a must for anyone ecologically minded – Gourmet Alternative Vegan Deli presents Sustainable Life Market, St Paul’s Square, Bedford on Sunday 25th October from 10am- 3pm. This fab event is a great opportunity to purchase food, drinks, toiletries and more from ethical, local brands. Refill Bedford and Plastic Free Bedford will both be there – containers at the ready!
Made in Bedford is an absolute delight. Pop in for a coffee and pick up work from local artists, designers, makers and producers. The creators also run Bedford’s largest arts and crafts markets the twice yearly Artisan Fairs, so they really know their crafty stuff. At the cafe the menu is kept small to avoid food waste and the coffee is from the Wooden Hill Coffee Company, roasted just 16 miles away.
This awesome Ampthill boutique stocks everything from homewares and gifts to eco-living essentials. Upcycled furniture is one of the mainstays of the business, with beautifully pre-loved pieces re-imagined in a range of chic hues. Locally crafted gifts are also on sale, including super-tempting pottery pieces and pretty cushions. The ‘kind living’ (enjoying that term a lot) offering includes bamboo products, wildflower bee bombs and great herbal soaps and bars from Suds (see above).
Cut out the middle man and fill up re-usable bottles with wonderful fresh milk from the Clipstone Dairy. This herd is treated like royalty – the low intensity farming practices mean they can roam free to graze in the lush fields and are not forced to produce huge quanitties of milk, like in many other dairy farms. The milk itself is gently pasteurised at a lower temperature than usual and is then available from the farm vending machine. It’s never more than 48hrs from milking to your fridge. Can’t get fresher than that.