Zero waste stores across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray are urging families to play their part and help the environment – by filling “just one bottle”.
The UK-wide scheme hopes to encourage people to do their bit by refilling a single bottle they already have, rather than buying a new one, reducing the use of plastic in the process.
Refill shops across the country, including The Re:Store Moray and Refillosophy in Aberdeen, are trying to help people shop more sustainability, save money and have a positive impact on the planet.
But, at a time when the cost of living is increasing, one argument these shop owners often face is their prices are higher than those consumers would see in a supermarket.
Why choose refill stores?
Alison Ruickbie has been running The Re:Store Moray, in Lossiemouth, since August 2019.
Large containers filled with pasta, flour, rice and cleaning products are on display throughout the Queen Street store – all ready to be tipped into refillable containers and weighed.
Ms Ruickbie acknowledges independent stores like hers cannot always compete with supermarket prices, but says the whole point is that people buy only what they need.
Over time, they save money by cutting down on food and drink waste.
Hundreds of pounds-worth of food thrown out
Every day in the UK we waste 20 million slices of bread, 280 tonnes of poultry, four million tatties and more.
Ms Ruickbie said: “When I opened I realised Tesco sold flour at 7p per 100 grammes (3.5oz) and I thought ‘I can’t compete with that’.
“I’m an independent, however, what I do is sell good quality flour at a good price.
“Also the point of these shops is that you only buy what you need. If you go to the supermarket, you have to buy a kilo (2.2lb) of flour but you might only need 300g (10.6oz) for a recipe.
You can buy what you need instead of being dictated to by the supermarket.”
Alison Ruickbie, owner, Re:Store Moray.
“If you come to me, you buy 300g.
“As consumers, what we often don’t think about is the cost of the food we put in the bin.
“If you have to throw out that flour after a certain length of time because it’s gone off and is past its time, then that’s food waste and you’ve paid for it.
“Zero Waste Scotland said it’s about £400 per year that the average Scottish family waste on the food they throw out.
“Some things are dearer but a lot of my things are cheaper, and it’s because you can buy what you need instead of being dictated to by the supermarket.”
‘Conscience shopping’ for zero waste
Ms Ruickbie believes the “just one bottle” campaign has the potential to save more than 100 bottles of mostly un-recyclable plastic per family annually.
It is hoped it will encourage more people to try refill shops and have a positive impact on the planet.
Ms Ruickbie said: “It’s not an easy way to shop, I appreciate that. It’s not like popping into the supermarket and grabbing something off the shelf.
Even tiny changes you make can have a huge impact if it’s done en masse.”
“I call it conscience shopping because you’ve really got to consciously think about what you need, what’s in your cupboard and what containers you’re going to to bring.
“But once you get into the routine it’s a lot easier.
“Imagine the impact if every family just refilled one bottle.
“It’s not about thinking you’ve to got do everything to change the way you live.
“Zero waste is a bit of a misnomer. To actually live a zero waste lifestyle is not achievable unless you are going be completely minimalist.
“Even tiny changes you make can have a huge impact if it’s done en masse.”
The campaign is also supported by Gina Adie, owner of Refillosophy on Albyn Grove, Aberdeen.
Ms Adie said: “Yes, some things are more expensive but other things are more comparable to the supermarkets.
“Obviously, we don’t have the buying powers of supermarkets so we’re never going to be as economical as them.
“But there’s no food waste with it because people just buy what they need.
“A lot of our customers come to us because we’re not a supermarket.
“They know where we’re sourcing from is more ethical than the supermarkets as well, so they expect things to be more expensive and don’t actually mind paying it.”
Other stores taking part include Butterfly Effect, of Insch and Banchory, Deeside Refill, of Aboyne, Bare, of Ellon, Wholehearted Refillery, of Fraserburgh, and Fiona’s Wholefoods, in Grantown.