The Eco Pantry is a one-stop-shop for plastic free goods, including dried foods, household cleaners, eco friendly products, locally made products and more. They are Hairy Jayne stockists, offering their customers our shampoo and conditioner refills straight from the pump.
Inspired by the UK’s first zero waste shop in Totnes, Karen and Callum turned their dream into reality in 2018 and have been supplying plastic free goods and refills to their customers in Sevenoaks, Kent ever since.
Their commitment to sustainability and the environment is very inspiring. Within the space of 2 years they have saved around 2000 non-recyclable plastic pasta bags from landfill, helped customers refill nearly 1000L of body wash and saved over 2000 washing up liquid bottles from entering the recycling system. This year they hope to install a pollinator and wildflower garden in a patch by the store to encourage biodiversity.
1. Why did you open your plastic free refill shop?
One day I was sorting out the laundry at home and noticed the “extremely harmful to aquatic life” message on the back of one of our detergent bottles. I’d somehow never noticed it before, and now couldn’t un-see it! We began making our own small changes at home buying eco friendly cleaning products, which gradually led to trying to source refills to save the bottles from recycling. At the time, this was very limited, but we happened to visit a refill shop whilst on holiday in Devon in 2017 and was blown away by the range of refills on offer - and knew we had to make this a possibility at home in Kent!
2. Why did you decide to make sustainability a big part of your small business?
We feel sustainability is vital for our future and the health of the planet; small steps to tread lightly on our environment make a huge impact overall and we feel it’s really important to be open about our own sustainable practices as a business.
3. How does sustainability come in to the day-to-day running of your shop?
We’re really pleased to be able to say that all of our refillable cleaning products and toiletries in store are supplied to us on a circular system. This means that each container is returned to the supplier for refilling, and keeps any plastic or glass from entering the recycling stream. That’s an awful lot of bottles to store until they’re ready to return but it’s worth it! We have this system in place for some food items too, with our more local suppliers.
Lots of cardboard boxes will also be reused or gladly taken away by other customers who need them for their own small businesses or a house move. We’ve also started saving any twine from deliveries to be reused for our own in-store labels or for use in the garden at home. Saves money too!
Any in-store spillages or over-fills never go to waste; we always have a tupperware ready to create a varied snack box. Or for anything that can’t be eaten, we have a compost bin in store which we take home for our own compost bin.
4. Tell us a little about your best-seller
Often top of our best sellers are washing up liquid and hand soap from a family-run company called Fill, who manufacture their products within the UK and operate a closed-loop system for their containers. They truly are a brilliant company to work with and their products work really well even in a hard-water area.
6. What's your favourite sustainable product, and why is it important to you?
One thing I always have with me is the classic reusable water bottle, it’s a staple for me. I won’t leave home without it and can’t even begin to imagine how many plastic bottles it’s saved me from buying, not to mention money! I’ve been refilling my water bottle for at least 10 years and it’s still going strong, so it’s well worth the investment.
7. Who has helped you most on your sustainability journey?
Solo Wood Recycling based in South London is a not-for-profit organisation that we have worked with in the past to purchase some furniture for our store. They create incredible bespoke pieces from wood that would be otherwise destined for landfill.
They also run workshops with schools and children building a variety of pieces such as herb boxes, planters and bird houses. They’ve made us realise just what you can achieve with an old pallet and we’re always saving bits of wood to see what we can make with it!
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