24th September 2020

It’s easier to go plastic-free in BoA

Back in May 2019, Bradford on Avon was awarded ‘Plastic-Free Community Status‘ by marine conservation charity, ‘Surfers Against Sewage‘. The initiative was led by a community steering group from Plastic-Free Bradford on Avon, who joined with the Waste Group of Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon to encourage local businesses to find ways of cutting down or eradicating plastic packaging and sundries.

With the Town Council supportive of the initiative, we are really pleased to let you know that Christine’s Sustainable Supermarket, in the centre of Bradford on Avon, has gone one step further and installed a fantastic dry goods refill station, so you can now take your own containers (or use paper bags provided if you’ve forgotten them) to buy loose foods such as lentils, nuts, rice, muesli, beans and seeds!

Jessica Thimbleby, a member of both Climate Friendly BoA Zero Waste Group and Plastic Free BoA, said:

“It’s great that Christine’s now has a refill station and we have more opportunity in BoA to reduce our rubbish at home.  Packaging waste can make up much of the rubbish in our bins – we hope more people will experiment and see how easy it can be to take your own containers to refill with the quantity you choose.
We’ve got used to the convenience of buying everything in packets but it uses lots more resources (including fossil fuels).  Our mantra on packaging is to REFUSE it where you can, REDUCE your use, REUSE any packaging where you can and IF you can’t do any of that, recycle it.”

Christine, who has run the store for over 10 years, has been offering refills on cosmetic and cleaning products, along with loose fruit and veg for some time, and reports that the refill station has been really popular since it started a fortnight ago, with many in the community eager to find more ways to reduce their impact on the environment through plastic reduction and locally sourced, sustainable groceries. Reflecting upon the past few years and more recent challenges posed by the lockdown, Christine said:

“When I took over the store more than a decade ago, we were seen as a place where mainly ‘alternative thinkers’ shopped. Over the years, I have built up a much bigger, mainstream customer base, supplying goods catering to various needs: low carbon footprints, sustainably sourced, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, compostable packaging and fair-trade items amongst many others.
We had already seen an upsurge in customers as people became more aware of the Climate crisis, but when Covid-19 hit, the community found that we often had many of the goods they could not source elsewhere, due to the fact we buy in bulk from local and small suppliers.
It’s been really hard work but also lovely to know we were able to provide the community with the items they wanted when they shopped locally. We also started up a food box fund, raising over £5000, which enabled us to provide items to many families hit hard by the sudden drops in income brought on by lockdown.
Whilst we’ve had many products available as refills for a while, such as cleaning and cosmetic items, along with loose fruit and veg, I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to go one step further to include dry goods now, and it’s a pleasure to see so many people enthusiastic about it.”

Leader of the Council, Dom Newton said:

“It’s really great to see a thriving local business really leading by example in this way, and showing that a sustainable and eco-approach to business can really be successful. As a Town Council, we’re proud to be backing Plastic-Free as an initiative, and grateful to be working alongside businesses like Christine’s to highlight the need for this change.”
The Town Council continues to work on projects related to the Climate and Ecological Emergencies that it has declared and whilst there are many areas of concern to address, reducing plastic use or going plastic-free altogether, is one big way we can all have a positive impact through consumer power.  Shopping locally, with businesses who make efforts to address the problem of plastic packaging (amongst other issues), is a powerful action individuals can take for the benefit of the environment and economy of the town.
Cllr Alex Kay, Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Town Council’s Environment and Planning Committee, said:
“We are very lucky we have Christine’s in the heart of our town, helping us to refill and reuse containers for so many great products; encouraging us all to make headway on the avalanche of plastic waste.”
If you’d like to find out more about why reducing plastic use is so important, or sign your business up to become plastic-free visit Plastic Free Bradford on Avon and there is also lots of information on Friends of the Earth’s website page: Living Without Plastic
“The new waste-free refill dispensers provide a fantastic local opportunity to reduce single-use plastic and packaging. Supporting this initiative will help send the message that consumers want to see less waste and the phasing out of unnecessary plastic, and encourage other shops to follow this lead.”

said John Pearce, Plastic Free Bradford on Avon

You may also find the BBC programmes ‘War on Plastic’ to be useful. Watch the trailer for the latest episode below:

CLICK HERE to read our previous article re: Plastic-Free Community Status