The Refill Pantry

The UK’s best zero waste shops – and why you should use them

Unpacking supermarket shopping can be a depressing activity when you’re trying to reduce plastic waste. It’s not just the fruit and veg that’s wrapped in unnecessary packaging – stock up on dried foods like pasta, rice and nuts and the plastic pile soon mounts.

That’s why we’re such a huge fan of zero waste shops here at RAW. Not only do they offer all your store cupboard essentials in dispensers, so you can refill your own bags or jars, they also stock well-considered beauty products and household products.

One of our favourite shops has to be The Refill Pantry in St Albans, run by friends Celina and Tania. We had a chat with Celina Mendoza about what inspired them to start the shop, and why they chose to stock RAW Bottles

What inspired you to open The Refill Pantry?

The Refill Pantry came about after reading an article about and then visiting a zero waste shop in Devon. Zero waste shops buy products in bulk like rice, nuts, pasta, seeds, dried fruit, and customers bring their own containers to buy as little or as much as they want of a product using their own containers. I felt this was a great concept for St Albans, and had such a shop existed I would be shopping there… but since it didn’t, I decided to take the plunge and open one!

How did Tania get involved?

I asked my neighbour Tania if she would join me in this impulsive venture and after thinking about it while I continued my research she came back to say yes. We’ve got a great balance of skills and interests between us and work well together. Our two 19 year-old daughters helped us every step of the way in setting up which was great fun and much needed!

How is the shop going so far?

We have been thrilled with the positive response to the shop and have loved sourcing so many new products to add to our range and give people even more ways of shopping without packaging and reducing plastic pollution.

What made you choose to stock RAW Bottles?

Refill Pantry RAW BottlesI had a RAW Foundation bottle from a talk I attended last April in London, and so decided to go with those as our water bottle as they are well designed and easy to use, and we love the subtle branding. Our shop is all about reducing unnecessary packaging and waste, and reusing rather than buying new, and the RAW Bottle had the right combination of material and practicality for us. Reducing the use of single use plastic is our primary mission and reusable water bottles of course fits with this ethos perfectly.

What are your other favourite or bestselling products?

Other great items in the shop that sell well and are ‘easy swaps’ are bamboo coffee cups and beeswax food wraps (a cling film alternative). However, our bestsellers are dark, milk and white chocolate buttons which customers dispense from our wall mounted hoppers straight into their own containers!

Find your nearest zero waste shop

There are so many brilliant zero waste shops popping up all over the UK – Plastic Free Pantry’s ultimate guide to plastic free and zero waste shops in the UK or Pebble Mag’s 41 of the UKs best zero waste stores are both useful resources to find a shop near you.

If the zero waste movement hasn’t made it to you yet, there are some good online alternatives to try out: