Re:Store zero waste shop in Hackney Downs celebrates a brilliant first year
When Megan Adams started to cut down on single use plastics it became something of an obsession.
Faced with a big commute to her nearest zero waste shop, she decided to ditch her career as a management consultant and set one up.
A year after it opened, Re:Store in Hackney Downs Studios is going from strength to strength and recently joined forces with plastic-free retailer Unwrpd to offer an online shop selling items for the bathroom like cotton buds, soap and shampoo. Local Buyers Club members save 10% (info here).
Megan, 29, said: “At the beginning of 2018 I had started to read about plastic and at that point, while I was fairly conscious about recycling, I hadn’t taken it to that next level of not using any single use plastics. You realise how hard that is and how we are surrounded by single use plastic. It became something of a passion – an obsession. I found it fun to switch things out and discovered new products like toothpaste in a glass jar.”
It was the owner of a zero waste shop in Wood Green who first suggested Megan open her own store.
“I thought – maybe I could,” added Megan. “At that time I wasn’t feeling so inspired by my job and wanted to do something more meaningful. I gave myself a target to start writing a business plan over the summer and, if something put me off I’d decide it wasn’t supposed to happen. But by the time it was written I was as determined as ever and I started to search for a location.
“I lived in West London, originally the plan was to open there but the spaces weren’t suitable – everything went very quickly and the landlords there wanted a year’s rent in deposit up front. Which small business has that?!
“When I came across this place at Hackney Downs Studios it was perfect. They want to foster a community spirit here with creative businesses - and they actively encourage start ups.
“If I was in the high street I would get more natural footfall but it wouldn’t be so focused. Here there is a yoga studio, a café and a cocktail bar and a business space with lots of small businesses. This footfall is targeted and it works.”
Re:Store started off working with a handful of wholesalers selling dried food and herbs and spices, but, as Megan has got to know more people in the industry and networked more, she’s learnt of new products and now has a deli section selling, primarily vegan, fresh foods and also stocks household cleaning products, soaps and shampoos and lifestyle products like reusable coffee cups, water bottles and beeswax wraps.
Many of Re:Store’s suppliers are Hackney based and some deliver their products via cargo bike.
Megan added: “I think convenience is the main barrier to people shopping in places like Re:Store - in an age where people get Ocado to deliver their shopping to the door. And there’s a perception of zero waste being more expensive. I’ve made sure my shop isn’t more expensive overall – basic expenditure is the same.
“People can be nervous about trying new products – there are customers who come just for basic refills like rice but are worried about trying other products.”
Now Megan’s home is free from any single use plastics. She’s done all the research, sourcing the best ethical, plastic free products to save you the hassle.
Here’s her 5 top tips for those going plastic free
1. Tackle a room at a time, starting with the bathroom!
2. Plan which containers you’re going to take when you visit a zero waste shop and keep it light (cotton bags, lunch boxes, old takeaway boxes or old freezer bags that you can reuse).
3. If using a shampoo bar, cut it into quarters so it lasts longer.
4. Keep your conditioner bar warm in the shower so it stays warm and is easier to use.
5. Hang on to things – keep jars and containers and refill them. You’ll save money and produce less waste.
Megan added: “Running my own business is good – it’s freeing to be able to make my own decisions although at times it can be quite overwhelming. I’m always bouncing ideas in my head. The most stressful point was the month before opening I was worried but it hasn’t been that stressful since.
The last few months have got really busy – I have seen a steady increase of customers coming in and new people come all the time.”
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