An eco-couple say they have launched Britain's first zero-waste supermarket - where all packaging is banned. Green-thinking Richard Eckersley, 28, and wife Nicola, 27, sell a range of up to 200 pesticide-free products from their store Earth.Food.Love. But in order to shop there, customers have to take their own pots, jars and sandwich bags.
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The shop opened earlier this year in Totnes, Devon and has been so successful the couple are planning to open similar stores in London and Birmingham. They came up with the idea after they discovered Unperfekthaus - a German anti waste outlet - on a trip to Berlin. Richard said: "We walked in and immediately thought, why doesn't this exist in the UK? We came back to the UK and decided to open our own sustainable store. We wanted to go somewhere that we felt would make a difference to the local community - that's why we moved to Devon."
The motto of the shop is to deliver goods that are "ethical, wholesome and organic". It stocks grains, pastas and even maple syrup - but certain items, such as alcohol and milk, are off the menu. Everyday supermarket Items such as packets of crisps are also on the strict banned list as they can have up to seven layers of wrapping.
Richard added: "By far our most popular attraction of the shop is the 'grind-your-own' nut butter machines. Filled with both almonds and peanuts, you can re-use your nut butter jar again and again and again, each time filling it with delicious, sticky goodness that's been ground right in front of you. It's not about price for us. We don't want to stock items just for the sake of it, it has to be ethical.
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"At the same time, we don't want to compete with local farms - there are many around here that sell fresh produce already. We're adding products all of time, but the supplier has to be right for us. We want to live in a world where consuming doesn't have to cost the earth. We believe returning to these simple ways will benefit not only our health, but the planets too."
The shop's energy is also ethical and supplied by Gloucestershire-based Ecotricity who produce clean, renewable gas and electricity. Richard says that although it is early days customers seem happy with what they are offering. He added: "This week we've had an influx of tourists popping in to see what the shop is all about - they're fascinated. But we have a lot of local residents too - they come in with their own boxes and bags and stock up on what they need."
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Earth.Food.Love stocks its items in bulk - much is locally sourced and biked over by local farmers, such as regionally grown oats. Shoppers have to take their own containers which they then fill, weigh and label and pay for what they are buying by the gram. The shop keeps a supply of compostable paper bags for customers who turn up without their own containers, either accidentally or because they are first-timers.
The store's Zero Waste Lifestyle collection also includes sanitary products, metal shavers that you just need to swap the blade on and bamboo toothbrushes that you can just replace the bristles on. Since opening, owner Richard says it's inspired many other shoppers.
Richard and Nicola, who have a newborn baby daughter called Willow, have also produced their very own guide to 'setting up your own zero waste shop'. This covers location, budget, suppliers, how to find dispensers and even advice on what to stock and hygiene. Richard added: "In setting up a zero waste shop, you are creating such a huge shift in the way people shop that you are directly influencing positive change, and for that, you should be proud. Remember that is only takes one person to make one change, and the ripple will be felt through the entire ocean."