Zero heroes: the couple behind the UK’s first zero-waste shop


Nicola Eckersley and her husband, former professional footballer Richard Eckersley, run Earth.Food.Love, a zero-waste shop that stocks only ethical goods and where packaging is banned

Free from packaging, adverts and robotic beeping tills, Earth.Food.Love offers a decidedly retro experience – but its owners think this is the future of shopping.

Nicola and Richard Eckersley were living in a flat in the centre of Manchester, when they became frustrated at the amount of plastic waste they were creating. “There were no recycling facilities, so we’d pile it up outside our front door,” says Nicola. “We read about a zero-waste shop in Berlin and thought ‘Wow – why aren’t they everywhere?’”

Their daughter – Willow, now 21 months – had just arrived, which made them re-evaluate things. “We wanted to feel proud of what we were doing,” says Nicola. “We wanted to do something towards a more sustainable future for Willow and future generations,” adds Richard.

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They settled in Totnes, a Devonshire town with a greenfriendly reputation, on a hunch that locals would be receptive to the idea. And in March 2017, Earth.Food.Love opened its doors. Its 200 or so products are all vegan, organic and packaging-free, and customers are encouraged to bring their own containers, which are weighed before being filled. The shop sells mostly food but also products such as bamboo cutlery, canvas bags, wooden toothbrushes and mason jars.

Recycling is a popular buzzword among people keen to reduce their environmental impact but, says Nicola, avoiding waste in the first place is even better. “Plastic can never actually get recycled,” she notes, “it just gets down-cycled, eventually becoming a ‘lesser’ plastic. So even if you recycle, it ultimately ends up in landfill or the ocean.”

As awareness of plastic pollution has soared in recent months, the Eckersleys say it is no longer only committed environmentalists who show up in search of a cleaner way to shop. “We’re seeing people of all nationalities, careers and ages,” says Nicola. “Kids come in to eat organic dried fruit as their after-school snack. It’s such an exciting time: a new wave of people are realising they don’t want toxic packaging around their food. It’s definitely going mainstream.”

It’s such an exciting time: a new wave of people are realising they don’t want toxic packaging around their food

The shop’s electricity comes from green energy company Ecotricity; the business is part of the sales donation scheme 1% For The Planet; and the Eckersleys accept…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.

I have a crazy passion for #music, #celebrity #news & #fashion! I'm always out and about on Twitter.
Sasha Harriet

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