What’s Going On Here?
Waitrose is the first major retailer in the UK to introduce a plastic-free shopping experience. The new zero-waste stores will let customers use their own containers to shop on a refill basis.
What Does This Mean?
As one of the top 10 UK supermarkets contributing to 810,000 tonnes of ‘throwaway packaging’ every year (according to Greenpeace ocean plastics campaigner Ariana Densham), Waitrose is making a bold move to help reduce that number.
Customers can fill their boots/containers from a choice of 48 different refillable products. Including grains, frozen fruit, coffee, cleaning liquids and even alcohol.
Initially, this is only being offered in one store, in Oxford, in an 11-week trial to see if ‘customers will ditch convenient plastic packaging’. Considering that it takes 66 days on average to form a new habit, is this enough time to judge the nation on whether they adapt to a ‘new way’ of shopping?
Why Should We Care?
This isn’t a new way of shopping – just ask your grandparents. Around 100 independent Zero Waste shops have opened across the UK in recent years. These ‘refill shops’ are founded by passionate individuals. They are often sacrificing careers, salaries and leisure time while beavering away to bring Zero Waste shopping back to our high streets.
“It is a good indication to all the independent zero waste shops, that we clearly have been noticed!”Jeanette and Tom, Clean Kilo, Birmingham.
However, the big boys like Waitrose have economies of scale, presence and certainly a bigger voice to bring awareness to our shopping habits on a national scale.
“Just because it can be bought plastic-free, doesn’t mean it was sourced that way.”Harriet, Harriet’s of Hove, Sussex.
It’s the independents driving the refill revolution who are working towards providing a plastic-free supply chain.
“It’s great they have decided to jump on this very important bandwagon, I just hope they manage it properly”Tammy, Harmless, London.
Wherever you shop, you’d better get those containers at the ready to accompany the reusable shopping bags we’ve all mastered so well 😉
1. This is only one Waitrose in the whole of the UK, but there are plenty of other plastic-free shops! Find your ‘local’ using Zero Waste Near Me.
2. Hold Waitrose to account. How are they sourcing their ‘plastic-free’ produce? Here is what they have to say on plastic packaging.
3. Frankly, I could go on and on and write so much more than this. So that’s exactly what I will do! Look out for my opinion piece on this in the next few weeks and hear more from the independent Zero Waste shop owners I chat to. If you want to have your say and be included in this, please give me a shout on Insta at @charlottes_cupboard.