Being zero-waste has never been more convenient.
From Cardiff to London, zero-waste shops are popping up around the UK as more of us are looking to reduce our impact on the world, and live a more sustainable life. But, for those who don’t live in large cities or towns, it can be hard to break-free from the packaging that encases our food and everyday essential items. Husband and wife duo Jack and Gemma are helping the fight against waste in a slightly unconventional way – with the use of their trusty van.
Our journey began five years ago with an around-the-world trip – which lead us to transition towards a zero-waste lifestyle. We had a few local stores that were package-free, but we began to realise that not everyone was as lucky as us in having those options. We both had careers in retail and wanted to start a business that we were passionate about; in our case it was giving people better access to zero-waste shopping. Incredible Bulk focuses on refillable, unpackaged store-cupboard food essentials and home cleaning products, as well as lifestyle items that promote living with less waste and reducing the impact on our natural environment.
Incredible Bulk is in a mobile van – so we’ve created an opportunity for people to do their household shop in a way that doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment. It’s a shopping experience, but it’s also a great social event as lots of communities come together to stock up on goods; it's a more personable way to shop where people can connect with each other and share ideas.
Being mobile is really important to us – there are a lot of smaller communities and villages in Cornwall that want a zero-waste shop but may not have a large enough population to have one permanently. Moving around in our van makes it easier for our customers to reduce their impact, while also making it more accessible for communities, saving people the need to make a special trip into larger towns. Social media is also great for sharing ideas and inspiring people that are outside of our local community.
We carefully balance of looking at locations and timings – to ensure we have a schedule that works for people. Being mobile means we can go to places of work so people can shop in their lunchtime or be available at school pick up time for busy families to stock up.
We were very conscious of CO2 emissions when choosing our van – we researched the available options and selected the one that had the least impact, but that would also serve the needs of our shop. Ideally, we wanted an electric van but couldn’t find one big enough for our range, or one that would travel the distances we need to cover. Our schedule is organised to make sure we keep travelling distance and time to a minimum. We also work with local charities to offset our CO2 emissions, having recently donated funds to the Down to Earth Foundation (dtef.org.uk) for local tree-planting in Cornwall – we were involved in planting the trees, too, which was great fun.
We look to be as zero-waste as we can – we shop locally, make a lot of food from scratch, only buy what we need and look to avoid all unnecessary packaging when shopping. It's not always easy, but you start to accept that you may not be able to have certain things and that that's actually not a bad thing. Being zero-waste is a very creative way of living and you learn a lot, connecting with the things around you along the way. We are by no means perfect, but it is important to us to live by our values. We look to challenge ourselves to minimise our waste as much as possible, so we can inspire and help our customers on their own journeys, too.
More people are becoming zero-waste – we meet so many great people from all walks of life that are looking to do their bit. We still think there is a long way to go, but we really believe this is an infectious way of life; once you start, you can’t go back, and only want to keep on going further and further to reduce your impact on the planet.
Our main aim is to make the business sustainable and successful as possible – especially while we’re still in our infancy. We understand that changing people’s habits can be difficult, but we are determined to make this as easy and enjoyable as possible for our customers – who knows, maybe we’ll need a second van in the future?