Shops that help to minimise the environmental impact of our shopping habits have been springing up all over the UK; recent estimates put the number at 250+ and growing every month.
Zero waste shops allow customers to bring in their own reusable containers to fill up on store-cupboard essentials, cleaning products, toiletries and more. This saves on the need for single use packaging (vitally important when you consider that only 9% of all the plastic that has ever been made has actually been recycled).
These kind of stores first gained popularity in eco-conscious cities like London, Brighton and Bristol; in Wales, the concept was pioneered by Crickhowell’s award-winning Natural Weigh.
Why shop zero waste?
The Attenborough effect – and stories such as the dead whale with 40kg of plastic in its stomach – mean that the plastic crisis is more visible now than it has ever been. It’s impossible to ignore the fact that the way we choose to shop has a huge impact on the world around us; cutting down on our own ‘single use footprint’ is a simple and effective way to make a difference.
Zero Waste shopping can offer:
- Less packaging. Products aren’t sold individually wrapped; and so all of the excess cardboard and plastic that would usually come home with a shopping trip is swapped for either your own repurposed containers, or glass jars and paper bags available in the shop.
- Less waste. Since you can weigh out the exact quantity of ingredients you need, this means that you are only paying for what you really want. Got a recipe with an ingredient you don’t usually use? Zero waste shops allow you to buy only what you need.
- Cheaper prices. It’s amazing how much cheaper dried herbs and spices are when you don’t pay for the new glass jar every time! Buying in bulk from a zero waste shop can also work out cheaper; this also reduces the frequency of shopping trips, meaning less carbon emissions, and a chance to save time, too.
- Healthier options. Zero waste shopping isn’t just about how you buy, but what you buy too. Supermarkets provide endless options for processed foods – including discounts and promotions on sugar and fat-filled snacks and not-very-nutritious ready meals. In contrast, zero waste shops offer whole foods, and often locally sourced, organic and high quality ingredients.
Cardiff’s Zero Waste Shops
Where to shop without the pointless packaging in the Welsh capital:
Cardiff’s first ever Zero Waste shop was aptly named ‘Ripple’ in the hope that it would ‘create a ripple effect of change for the better.’
It’s safe to say that founder Sophie Rae absolutely smashed that goal. Since opening the shop in 2018 (following a crowd funding campaign which raised more than £30k) the shop has doubled in size by taking over the unit next-door, and has become a much-loved part of the local community.
Ripple stocks everything from dried goods to fresh or frozen fruit & veg, cosmetics to cleaning products and sustainable clothing. It also offers a pre-order click & collect service.
You can find Ripple at 102-106 Albany Rd, Cardiff CF24 3RT. To find out more, click here.
Siop Sero, Rhiwbina
Based in the heart of Rhwbina, this not-for-profit store offers refillable foods and non-foods, along with ethical, sustainable, local products.
Owner Catherine Richards moved to the area three years ago and became involved with local eco groups who inspired her to reduce her plastic waste and live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. Now she helps others to do the same.
You can find Siop Sero at 3B Beulah Road, Rhiwbina, Cardiff CF14 6BX. To find out more, click here.
Iechyd Da, Whitchurch
This independent, family-run health food shop is on a mission to ‘reduce waste, eliminate single use plastic and to stock good healthy products that are ethically and sustainably sourced at competitive prices.’
It stocks a variety of products by weight, including rice, pasta, cereals, herbs and spices, pulses, grains, dried fruit and nuts, baking ingredients, oils and vinegars, healthy snacks as well as body care and household cleaning products.
You can find Iechyd Da at 53c Merthyr Road, Yr Eglwys Newydd, Caerdydd CF14 1DD. To find out more, click here.
Yellow TSE, city centre
Yellow TSE is a plastic-free, zero-waste, department store, and paperless shopping experience. Using state of the art QR technology you can browse and buy your refillable goods with ease here. There’s also a co-working space with room to hunker down with a coffee and get some emails done.
Be sure to snap a selfie with their faux taxidermy giraffe, made by my pals at Broken Hare!
You can find Yellow TSE inside Morgan Arcade in the city centre, CF10 1AF.
This is the UK’s first plastic-free, online supermarket where everything is organic and plant-based. It aims to marry the convenience of supermarkets with the concept of zero waste ‘to make it easier for people to shop with confidence and a conscience’.
Forrist is a great option if you don’t live anywhere near a zero-waste shop, or simply don’t have time to get out. I’ve ordered from the Forrist a few times, and really like their stylish, plastic-free packaging (recyclable / home compostable paper bags). I tend to stock up on their organic jumbo oats, cubed apple pieces, cocoa powder / nibs and dried dates for making bowls of boujee overnight oats.
I was recently interviewed for the Forrist blog, on the topic of sustainable living. You can read the whole feature here.
There area few more zero waste shops dotted around the Vale of Glamorgan.
- In Penarth, check out Zero Penarth.
- In Barry & Cowbridge, you can find branches of Awesome Wales.
- Look out for Weigh To Go Refill’s mobile zero-waste store in a converted transit van!