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  • Sarah Lovejoy


Unless you’ve been living under a rock – most of us are aware of the environmental disaster that is happening around the world. There are many strings to this statement and it’s a complicated issue; Carbon footprint, Plastic waste, Decreasing habitats and eco systems. It’s a depressing read and a lot of us will view the problem as being too big to do anything about. But do we not have a responsibility to try? Are we now a society that gives up and goes home so easily?


Plastic pollution is just one element but one which we actually have some control over. We can all make reasonable adjustments to our lifestyles whereas other elements maybe completely out of our immediate control.


If you’ve never been brave enough to venture into a zero waste/plastic free/refill shop, they are really not the stereo-typical scary environment that many believe them to be. Most are independently owned by people who have given up careers because they felt that the problem needs addressing and our society needs change and choices away from the big corporations. These corporations have a less than satisfactory record on ethics including sourcing raw materials; worker’s rights (slavery and poor working conditions); profits and taxation; political donations; dubious investment records (such as Arms trades); animal testing 🐰. They have put the onus of plastic waste onto the customer, making it our responsibility to ensure it is disposed of in the correct manor and paying little attention to a widespread issue as it affects their bottom line and profit margins. Many have now resorted to small tweaks here and there but shout loud about how responsible they are to the environment and yet the pessimist in me feels this is mainly a marketing strategy and “greenwashing” at it’s best.


Most zero waste shops use a similar model and source the bulk of their ingredients from UK suppliers, many of these being family owned companies, co-operatives, community interest companies and individual makers. For our cleaning products we use 2 companies. The first being a family owned company based in Yorkshire who produce a range of cruelty-free vegan biodegradable and palm-oil free products for the home. Our second supplier is a Social Enterprise company based in Oxford who go to great lengths to ensure they use suppliers with strong ethics in human, animal and environmental rights. Both companies offer these products in a closed loop supply chain which I’ll explain a bit more about later.


Lots of every day products contain a mix of chemicals which I can’t pronounce and have been shown to cause issues to both the user and environment, particularly water courses. Our suppliers ensure their products are free from the worst offenders: Parabens, Chlorine Bleaches, Optical Brightener, Thiazolinones, Sulphites, Methylisothiazolinone (CMIT), Gluten, Alcohol, SLS, ALS, ALES, Formaldehyde or Phosphates.


The above list of concoctions are cheap to manufacture and is the reason why several companies can supply products at £1 bottle or less.


Is it worth paying a little extra to refill with a product that doesn’t contain as many harmful ingredients, has been sourced responsibly and is offered as a refill?


Some of the common questions we get asked about refilling include:


Is it time consuming?

Is it expensive?

What do I need to bring?

Does it work?

What’s a closed loop system?


So lets address some of these:-


You can come to a physical shop or order online. You can arrange to drop off bottles to be refilled or you can elect to have items delivered to you. Everyone’s scenario is different so we try and accommodate as many of these as possible. If you are Andover based we are happy to pick up your items for re-filling and drop these back to you or we can deliver to other areas using donated and gifted receptacles. We like to get to know our customers and address their requirements as much as possible.


It does take a bit of thinking about and organisation and every household is different on how they approach it. It’s simply a case of getting into your own groove. But we are a small shop so you can’t get lost or be tempted by things you didn’t really need (apart from chocolate 🍫 but we all need chocolate – right!) and we have parking right outside.


As discussed, the ingredients and supply chains involved are very different from many mainstream products and so yes products are a different price point to these. But they are not so ridiculously priced that lots of people cannot make a few small swaps. It’s a complicated issue and the best way to sum it up is something I tell my children – “It’s cheap for a reason”. Instead of asking “Is it expensive?” the narrative should be “Why is it so cheap?”


I will say that most people wouldn’t notice much difference re-filling their washing up liquid bottle and this is the one I always advise people to start with. Most of us have this bottle already so it’s easy to bring this along and refill. It’s a simple process, weigh your bottle, fill up using a pump system and hand it over to be re-weighed and paid for. The weight of the bottle is deducted so you only pay for the product itself. Simple!





We accept most clean items to be re-filled so you can use items that you already own.


Lots of people worry that the products don’t work as well. They work fine but because they don’t contain the same list of Sulphates etc you may well notice small differences. The main contentious one is bubbles. Sulphates make bubbles but are also a skin irritant so you tend not to find them in more eco products. Years of marketing have convinced us all we need bubbles in our life to clean our dishes and bodies. Sorry! We don’t! So our washing up liquid may not be as bubbly but nor does it need to be.

Once our 20L and 200L drums are empty they get collected on the next delivery run. They are washed, sanitised and re-filled ready to be sent to the next shop. Delivery routes are collated to be the most efficient for Carbon Footprint purposes. I’m sure in the future these will be electric vans. This is a Closed Loop supply chain and results in no wastage.


I have seen lots of companies advertising they operate a Closed Loop system when in fact the containers are merely recycled and not re-used. Re-using is always preferable to Recycling as this uses lots of resources and energy. So next time you pop your Washing up Liquid bottle in the Recycling bin, why not go and fish it out again, wash it and try re-filling instead. The environment will be glad you did.💚





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  • Sarah Lovejoy






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Now is the time when we turn our attention to events at the end of year and after last year many of us will be desperate to enjoy lots of scrummy food with our loved ones.


Cooking from scratch is one of the best ways to cut down on packaging. So below you’ll find a handy recipe to make your own mincemeat ready for baking later on.


Would you believe it - historically it was illegal to eat Mince pies on Christmas Day (my family would never of managed this). In the 1650’s in Oliver Cromwell’s period, mince pies were banned along with other treats on Christmas Day.


Traditionally mincemeat contained meat – hence it’s name. In the 18th century they would use tongue and tripe and in the 19th century this moved to minced beef. By the late Victorian period and early 20th century this had been replaced with fruit fillings with beef suet in place of the meat element. It’s easy to swap the beef suet for a vegetable version these days.


Mincemeat can be made in advance and left in a cool dark place in sterilised jars for up to 6 months. Once opened it should be kept in the fridge. The minimum time to make your mincemeat is 2 weeks to give it time to soak up and mix all the delicious flavours. So there’s plenty of time to set aside an hour to make your own.


It’s essentially a mix of fruit, spices and alcohol with a bit of suet which helps preserve and bind it. You can also add your own ingredients to personalise it with 🍎 🍐 🥕 🍒,






💡Tip: Why not share the cost of the Brandy with a friend?







To make:


· Add all your ingredients into a bowl (except the Brandy) and stir well to combine

· Cover with a tea towel and leave overnight

· Heat the oven to a low temperature (gas mark 4, 110 C)

· Cover the bowl with foil and place in the over for 2.5 hrs

· Remove from the oven, allow to cool and give a good stir

· Add the Brandy and again mix well

· Fill your sterilised jars




To sterilise your jars:

Wash in hot soapy water. Immediately turn upside down and place on a baking tray. Pop the lids on the tray. Pop in the oven 160 C - 180 C for 15 minutes




Once cooled enough to handle pop the lids on and leave to cool. Pop away in the cupboard until time to make your mince pies.

Happy Baking - Sarah xx











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