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Drastic Measures Against Plastics: Your Guide to Refill Shops

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

Be a hero by going zero-waste! It is now easier than ever to transition into guilt-free grocery, self-care, and cleaning supply shopping. These refill shops are popping up everywhere to combat the issues surrounding single-use plastic consumption, recycling, food waste, and cost efficiency.

In recent years, environmentalists have encouraged us to focus more on ‘reducing and reusing’ than ‘recycling’. This is because 91% of plastic in the UK still isn’t recycled, and even that is filling up unsafe sites in Turkey and creating pollution. Although throwing away thicker plastics and jars only adds to the problem, saving and reusing these sustainable containers will reduce the amount of them in landfill, as well as reduce the need for the virgin materials and energy used to make them. Most plastic pollution and waste is needless; if only all the ‘Organisation Tiktokers’ got on board, instead of buying packaged goods to then pour into aesthetic containers and hide the packets!

Refill shops are budget friendly too; solve two problems at once by reducing food waste and your bill. You are more likely to only buy what you need when you are in control of the amount, rather than buying pre-packaged food which you cannot eat before the expiry date, and end up throwing away. On the one hand, these shops often only stock organic, eco-friendly, and fair-trade products, so you don’t have to worry about the ethics of your produce. On the other hand, big shops like ASDA have recently hopped on the bandwagon (aiming to remove 3 billion single-use plastics from its business by 2025), so customers can still find family-favourite brands like Nestlé and Kellogg’s!

Like ASDA’s refill shops in Leeds, York, and Glasgow, other big companies have started to make their products in a waste-free fashion. Skincare brands like Lush, L’Occitane, and The Body Shop all offer a refill service, or a buy-back used bottles scheme. This shows how the commercial world is changing for its consumers and means that we can still buy our favourite products- refill shops don’t always mean vague minimalist labels! All this considered however, it is good to support the independent small-scale refill businesses and celebrate local producers when you can.

This is easy to do in Nottingham because it is rich in refill shops. Shop Zero is the biggest refill chain and stocks everything from food to toiletries to household products. Dash Vegan has similar values and also resides in the town centre. Of course, we cannot forget Portland Zero, the sustainable shop on University Park Campus for readily accessible whole-foods and cleaning products, fitting a shopping trip comfortably into your daily student routine! For all those girls who have too many tote bags for their own good, use their sturdiness to hold jars full of dried goods and self-care products. Going to a refill shop instead of a massive supermarket is a fun and easy change in routine; it’s like a big pick and mix!

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Siân Wells

Nottingham '22

Hi! I’m a UoN Blogger and final year English student.