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Footballer Opens Packaging-Free Supermarket

Main Image 05 September 2017 | Adam Berry

A former footballer has opened up a packaging-free supermarket in a bid to cut down on pollution.

The store, in Devon, encourages customers to bring their own containers to fill with the goods on offer.

Earth.Food.Love opens up

Richard Eckersley has opened up the store, named Earth.Food.Love, along with his wife Nicola. Together with their 15-month-old daughter, Willow, they are looking to revolutionise the way that we shop.

If you have a retail food job, you may be wondering exactly how this concept works. It turns out that it’s fairly simple. Customers simply have to bring their own packaging along – such as jars, tins, or bags – and they can then fill them up from the jars in-store.

In a way, you might call them misleading – there is a little packaging involved, as the food must be contained in some way before it is sold. The twist is that there is no waste, as the jars in the shop are reused to ensure that nothing is thrown away. The aim is that there will be no waste of either food or packaging, helping keep the shop at zero waste altogether.

The shop also stocks only organic produce, ensuring that there is no chemical waste during the production of the food either. They sell sugar and spices, raw and vegan chocolate, baking supplies and flour, beans, rice, spaghetti, vinegars, syrups, and much more. You can even opt to buy pots in-store which you can bring back and refill again and again.

"Nothing comes through the door here unless it’s unpackaged and organic. We sell everything that’s dried, so you’ve got grains, beans, pulses, legumes, rice, seeds, flours, sugars, seaweed and spaghetti, yeast flakes and stock," Richard said.

Family inspiration

So, how did a footballer go from playing sports on the field to thinking about zero waste? Richard Eckersley was a fullback at Manchester United in the 2004 season, and then went on to join Burnley in 2009. After four years there he moved on to Toronto FC, but then a source of inspiration entered his family.

"We have a 15-month-old daughter, Willow, and I have woken up and become vegan. I became more conscious about how much we consume and how we can tread more lightly on the planet," he said.

He and his wife then said goodbye to their urban lifestyle and decided to make a real change for the planet.

"Not so long ago, living a fast-paced city life in an apartment block that had no recycling facilities we soon began to notice the accumulation of recycling we (as a family of 2) created each week," Nicola said. "It was during these trips to and from the recycling plant that we thought 'there must be another way?'"

They decided to open their own shop after visiting Berlin, where they visited a German zero waste store called Unperfekthaus.

Following that model, they also sell organic and packaging-free non-food items. These include toothbrushes made of bamboo, wooden dish brushes, handmade toothpaste, and so forth.

Via their social media account, the shop also posts advice and recipes to create alternatives to packaged goods. This could be a good source of inspiration for anyone working in food packaging, in a bid to create better solutions which can still be sold in normal supermarkets.

This is a great initiative which may well fuel a spate of new packaging-free shops to crop up around the country if it does well. Certainly it fits with the vegan, cruelty-free, and raw movements which are becoming very fashionable around the UK in current culinary trends.

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