A former nurse, who is doing her bit to save the planet, has opened Clitheroe’s first, zero-waste grocery store, which is revolutionising the way we shop. Photography: Sarah Valentine
A packet of raisins, bought for her three-year-old, has transformed Justine Williams’ life and career. Former nurse Justine, who has opened the Ribble Valley’s first zero-waste eco-friendly shop, recalls: “The raisins were packaged in small boxes on a plastic tray inside a plastic wrapper. It was ridiculous! There was so much packaging and so much waste.
“I started to become really aware of how, as a family, we were using so much plastic and I started to do some research,” explains Justine, who was horrified to discover that around eight million pieces of plastic waste find their way into our oceans every day with the average person living in western Europe using their own body weight in plastic each year.
“While I wouldn’t call myself an eco-warrior, I think people are growing more aware of how much waste and how much plastic we are using. Every single change that we make will help our planet.”
Having been a nurse and health visitor for seven years, Justine saw an opportunity to open up a shop selling store cupboard basics where people could bring their own re-usable containers and buy goods by weight – and Refillution was born.
Having opened around three months ago, the shop stocks loose breakfast cereals, muesli, pasta, beans, dried fruit and nuts, herbs, spices with many products being organic.
“I have tried to get lots of organic products without the usual big price jump,” explains mum-of-two Justine.
Tucked away on Castle Street, this little gem has, since opening, evolved and now stocks eco friendly soaps, shampoos and laundry detergents that are decanted into shoppers’ own containers.
Justine hand picks eco-friendly shampoos, conditioners and body washes such as Faith in Nature’s coconut shampoo and conditioner, patchouli and sandalwood body wash and coconut and argan oil hand wash. Household items include Bio laundry bleach, Bio laundry liquid and fabric conditioners and organic laundry soap nuts.
Keen to use local suppliers, Justine adds: “We have a fresh supply of locally-made sour-dough bread and delicious vegan and sugar free bakes delivered on Saturdays. We have hand-made soaps with compostable wrapping and refillable candles scented with essential oils, made in Accrington.”
With the aim of creating a community hub, as well as doing her bit for the planet, Justine adds: “Ethical products are good for our wellbeing as well as the environment. The shop is very much community led – we have a suggestions box so we are constantly introducing new products.
“Following a recent suggestion we now have rapeseed oil from Standish so people can come in and refill their own bottles,” explains Justine, who sources many of the everyday basics from UK co-operatives.
“When I set up the shop I wanted people to be able to come here, get their basics then support their local market, butcher, bakery and organic growers, so basically they wouldn’t particularly need to go to the supermarket on a regular basis”
“With Refillution I want to make it as easy as possible to reduce waste and single use plastics within our community. The changes we make as individuals can have a huge collective impact.”
“We now have regular customers who keep coming back as they like what we are doing. A lot of them have been saying they have been wanting something like this for a long time. Something that really makes a difference.”
Justine, who lives with her family in Sawley, concludes: “When I decided to give up my job to do this I was determined to make a difference. At times I wondered whether I had done the right thing but three months in and it’s going really well and I just feel great!”
“From childhood, I have always loved nature and the sea. I just want to do my bit. I think once you become aware of how much plastic and waste there is, you can’t ignore it.”
“I want my children to be able to swim in the sea like I did, enjoy the natural world and our beautiful planet.”
Refillution, which is open to schools and nurseries enabling children to learn about what the shop is doing, will also appear as a pop-up at the Grand, Clitheroe, on 10th March at 7pm to coincide with the showing of Albatross, a documentary about the effects of plastic pollution