The Refill Shop
If you haven’t heard of the concept of a refill shop before (also known as a zero waste shop) it’s where customers bring their own containers to refill products and therefore cut out the need for plastic packaging. All sorts of products can be refilled, from lentils to laundry liquid, from shampoo to sesame seeds and from vinegar to vegan sweets
TurtleBee was founded in Summer 2019 by Claire Plowes, a former primary school teacher and mum to three children. As a busy family of five, the household created a lot of waste, mostly packaging from food and cleaning products. Whilst unpacking the family supermarket shop one day, Claire was suddenly horrified at the amount of plastic and vowed to find ways to reduce the family waste.
Researching ways to reduce waste led Claire to start using the local greengrocer with her own reusable bags for fruit and vegetables. She also came across the concept of a refill shop but the nearest one was a 25 minute drive away which didn’t seem very eco friendly! With encouragement from her husband, Claire decided to open her own shop in Great Harwood with the hope that other people would want to shop this way too and that it could become a business.
A second shop was opened in Padiham, near Burnley in December 2019 and a third in Samlesbury at Huntley’s Country Stores on the A59 near Preston in October 2020.
“We were getting customers travelling from Preston to our shop in Great Harwood, so it seemed like there was a need for eco friendly shopping in that part of Lancashire,” recalls Claire. She researched various suburbs of Preston whilst looking for a location but when a unit came up at Huntley’s, it felt like the perfect fit. “It’s a great location with plenty of free parking and easily accessible from the M6. As well as plastic free refills of dried foods and cleaning products, customers can buy loose fresh produce next door in the food hall.”
If refill shopping seems daunting at first, pop in the shop to see the sorts of items they stock then you will know that next time you run out of a product, you can simply take in the empty packet/jar/bottle to refill. Staff are always on hand to help you. The important thing is that more people start to give this way of shopping a try. It really does make a difference. As an example, in less than two years, customers refilling at TurtleBee saved over 2000 plastic bottles of washing up liquid!