Set to become Bristol’s very first zero waste shop, Zero Green is the brainchild of Stacey Fordham, a former Sainsbury’s employee, and Lidia Rueda Losada, a self-proclaimed minimalist. Bonding over a mutual frustration of unnecessary packaging while working for the National Trust, the duo set out to create a shopping experience free from the plague of plastic.
“I was 40 last year, so I think this may have been instead of a tattoo or sports car,” says Stacey. “Lidia is a vegan and really got into minimalism a year ago, so the stars kind of aligned. We also realised that the opportunity to do something good that we enjoy and have experience in is quite rare.”
The result, Zero Green, in Bedminster, aims to reduce waste through the use of customer-sourced containers, which shoppers will be able to fill up with grains, pulses and other kitchen essentials that will be stocked in large jars and gravity dispensers throughout the shop. “Jars, plastic bags, jean pockets, lunchboxes, whatever you’ve got,” says Stacey. “We’re not going to be preachy about it, we’re just not going to have any single-use plastics”.
It’s not just food that they will be selling. Metal razors, keep cups, bamboo cutlery and jars will all be available. They intend to set up ‘make your own’ classes and offer lifestyle advice. “Our aim is to be accommodating to however far people want to take it,” continues Stacey. “We are open to suggestions and want to be learning all the time.”
So what advice would the pair give to anyone who wants to reduce their waste but doesn’t know where to start?
“We’ve found that going local really helps,” states Stacey. “Think about shrinking your world and taking little steps – a coffee cup, a metal straw, a water bottle, a handkerchief! Three years ago people wouldn’t have dreamt about going out with carrier bags but now it’s always on your mind.”
Stacey quotes zero waste lifestyle expert and author of Zero Waste Home Bea Johnson as inspiration for the project. Watching her TED Talk and seeing similar shops pop up around the country made them realise that a zero waste lifestyle really is a viable alternative. “This is a movement that’s here to stay,” says Stacey.
The recent plastic backlash, triggered by Blue Planet II, has certainly made people aware of the negative impact of plastic waste, and they hope this will play to their advantage.
“There is a lot of people concerned about the environment and where the world is going,” says Lidia. “They want to do things naturally and we have to give them the options to do so.”
However, the duo realise that to have far-reaching impacts these options have to be affordable. “It’s not about being a high-end, fancy food shop,” adds Stacey. “For that reason we’ve been trying to set up as affordably as possible so as not to pass the cost onto our customers.”
And they’ve certainly done a good job with that. The shop floor is being constructed from affordable wood bought from the Bristol Wood Recycling Project, put together by volunteers and family. “We’d be sitting in an empty shop if it wasn’t for my Dad,” comments Stacey. “He hand-built everything and is probably at home at the moment in the fetal position with a cup of tea and a straw. My mum’s been equally amazing, getting keys cut, buying screws and making tea.”
With many local volunteers as well as family members, and with over 1000 Facebook followers, it is clear that local people are behind the project. “The community aspect has certainly been a positive addition,” says Stacey. “We have people here today giving up their Sunday to help out, as well as people coming in to volunteer all the time. We’ll be putting up a board outside to thank everyone; we couldn’t have done this without them.”
• Zero Green can be found at 12 North Street, Bedminster, and will open on 10th March
Article written by Max Thrower
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