Featured Image Credit – Zero Waste Market, Facebook
So recently Heather and I have been trying to be more environmentally conscious – and while it’s easy to give up little things like wrapping paper and single use packaging, trying to get the necessities plastic free is actually more difficult than you think.
A lot of things that are apparently recyclable from big supermarkets are conveniently labelled to make you complacent – for example, you can’t recycle a meal deal sandwich box if you don’t remove the plastic film. But it doesn’t look so great on the packaging, so you’ll only find it after searching the small print. Similarly, most cardboard contaminated by food can’t be recycled as a matter of protecting public health. Happily, for residents in the East End of Glasgow, help is at hand in the form of a plastic-free zero waste market.
The shop is located on Hillfoot Street, just off Duke Street, near the Tennent’s brewery and Necropolis. Inside, the space is nice and airy, with crisp white walls and chipboard floors and worktops to help soak up any spillages. Everything on sale is displayed in big glass jars, with utilities like reusable sanitary pads, wood-handled razors and bars of sustainably made soap on a shelf just behind the counter. Fruit and veg sits in the standard big fridge you’d find in any farm shop for things like cherry tomatoes and strawberries. If you’re lucky you might catch some of the free produce that’s on it’s way out but still needs a good home. Sourdough loaves and pastries can be found on the table in the centre of the shop, but come quickly, they’re usually gone by afternoon.
Customers serve themselves (after sanitising hands!) by placing their container on a scale and removing the weight of the jar from the cost. Then, they simply select their product from the screen on the scales, fill up the container and print out a sticker with the price on. My flatmate returned triumphant today after having secured a portion of pasta for 8 pence. Whilst he might have been a little conservative with his bag filling, I went a little harder, but I struggled to spend over about £3 even with a decent bag of the more expensive items like granola mix. There are a lot of eccentric spices available from glass jars at the back of the shop, again on a self-serve basis, plus the more regular ones. In my flat we’ve had Korean kimchi and miso paste, so the shop does make it a little easier to recreate those yo sushi takeaways. Which is good, because living somewhere with so much choice makes a takeaway mega appealing.
The shop also has an oil section where you can fill your own container with different oils like olive, rapeseed and balsamic vinegar – if you don’t have one, you can buy bottles for around £1/100ml capacity to reuse. Similarly, there are recyclable paper bags for your dry stuff available for free, and produce bags for fruit and veg are only around £5. This is a little expensive to me, but I suppose they do last almost forever. Sainsbury’s and Tesco also offer produce bags for about £3 which you can use. Behind the oil station is a machine which dispenses both dairy and oat milk made in Glasgow, which Heather reliably informs me “tastes super good.” High praise indeed.
You can also buy household necessities like washing up liquid, glass cleaner and fabric softener from giant drums that pour into your container. You might have to ask for help as the dials can be a little sticky. Plus, the washing up liquid is scentless, so there’s no need to go on a spree of sniffing things to prove you aren’t experiencing a loss of smell… like I did. On the plus side, the staff are very friendly and informative, happy to help if you’re struggling with weighing or dispensing. I guess I just had the magic touch from working in a supermarket all those years ago.
All in all, residents of Glasgow will be miles better off environmentally with tools like the Zero Waste Market at their disposal. A really great shopping experience.