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Independent health store advice on low-waste shopping

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health food store can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This month we speak to Susie Falco and Elise Clitheroe, the co-founders of REco Store in Tiptree, Essex.

The main philosophy behind low-waste shopping is trying to reduce plastic packaging wherever possible and reduce people’s household waste. Here at REco Store we sell everything from household cleaning products to body washes, shampoos, conditioners and hand soap. However, the difference is that people bring their empty bottles to us to be refilled instead of throwing them out into landfill. Not only are these products kind to the planet but they are free from SLS and parabens, so they are kind to our bodies too.

The principle is the same with the wholefoods we stock. Our lentils, chickpeas, rice, beans and grains are all loose, so our customers are able to buy the exact amount they need and then take them home in their own containers without any unnecessary packaging.

Buying better

We prefer to call it low-waste living rather than zero-waste, as the idea of a zero-waste lifestyle is somewhat unobtainable. We want to encourage customers to make a few small changes and not beat themselves up about trying to be perfect. The phrase we like to use is ‘buying better’. For the customer that means being able to buy products without plastic packaging which have been responsibly sourced. For us, it’s about how a product is produced, how it’s farmed, how it’s transported and how it’s packaged. It’s about trying to make better choices for our health and the environment.

The closed loop system

One of the suppliers we work with, a company called SESI, uses a ‘closed loop system’. They supply our liquid products in 20-litre drums and when those are empty we return them to be washed, refilled and sent back to the retailers again. This means that there is no waste at all. We have consequently been inspired to source other things through our own closed loop system. For example we buy our raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar direct from an orchard in Norfolk and we have drums that go back and forth that are filled and come back out to us.

Other low-waste products that we stock include an excellent make-up range by Love the Planet which comes to us in compostable packaging. We can then dispense it in little pots and jars so that the customer can buy the exact amount they need. We also stock a zero-waste deodorant which comes in a glass jar. When it’s finished, you can bring the jar back to us and we’ll return it to the manufacturer to be cleaned and reused. We stock several products made from bamboo, such as sanitary towels, toothbrushes, flannels and make-up remover pads. Another great product is a tampon applicator made from silicon, which you only need to buy once and then you can purchase organic cotton tampons to go in it.

Low-waste lifestyle tips

For anyone wanting to follow a low-waste lifestyle, we would recommend starting with one small thing at a time. A simple choice might be changing to a milkman or switching from buying bottled hand soap to buying soap bars. Or when you shop at the supermarket, don’t buy vegetables that are packaged in plastic – go for the loose vegetables.

Another thing is to look locally and shop with independent traders. We want to encourage customers to vote with their feet and support local businesses such as farm shops, greengrocers and independent health food stores.

REco Store, Tiptree

REco Store is based at Tower Business Park, Kelvedon Rd, Tiptree, CO5 0LX.

Susie and Elise opened the store in April 2019 after realising that they had a shared interest in eco-friendly living and low-waste shopping.

After the pair visited a nearby zero-waste store, they teamed up and opened their own store 12 weeks later. They now plan to open a second store in the coming months.

To find out more, visit call 07508 505270 or follow the store on /therecostore (Facebook) and @the_recostore (Instagram)

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