If you’re tired of buying apples encased in plastic, individually-packed bags of rice and nuts which should be naked, it may be time to find your nearest zero-waste shop. Lauren Welch was on a mission to reduce her personal impact, but found it near impossible, so she opened up NADA, her very own zero-waste store. Lauren gave us the low-down on how NADA is helping Leicester cut back.
Who is NADA?
NADA is Leicester’s first zero-waste store. It’s independent, family-run and all products are ethically and, where possible, locally sourced. We sell dry foods including rice, pasta, lentils, grains and pulses, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, as well as baking essentials like cereal, tea, coffee and oils. These can be purchased in any quantity without packaging. Customers are encouraged to bring their own containers and we charge by weight. We also sell household cleaning products and bathroom essentials, including bamboo toothbrushes and plant-based dental floss. We also sell lifestyle products to reduce the need for single-use plastic; such as water bottles, coffee cups, straws, wax wraps and menstrual pads.
What is NADA’s aim?
The world is suffocating with plastic and by needlessly buying we are just adding to the problem. Plastic is an essential part of our lives, but the continued production of plastic products is harmful and unnecessary. Becoming zero-waste is a destination; there’s an increasing number of us on the journey, and that’s so critical to making meaningful change. Unless something is done to address the tide, there’ll be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
Everyone is aware of the programme Blue Planet – my husband and I watched it and were horrified by the effect plastic is having on the earth; honestly, I sobbed. The next day I started to look into how I could reduce my family’s household waste. I came across an American blog which explained how to reduce plastic packaging through bulk bins – which are big containers storing food, that allow customers to take the exact amount they need. I then tried to find a bulk bin shop near us but couldn’t. So, I started thinking about having one of my own and it snowballed into NADA.
What does NADA sell?
We have a large product range – which has more than doubled since opening. To begin, I started with things that I used in my daily life, and kept a list of everything customers asked for. I still have a list, and try to source things customers request and say are hard to find without plastic. I stock a lot of locally-sourced products made here in Leicester, like soaps, napkins, sponges and handkerchiefs. Our products are ethically-sourced and I use companies that understand why this is important. I have spoken to and worked with a couple of companies who have looked into their packaging and changed to plastic-free and sustainable materials.
You can buy as much or little as you need – which makes us unique. There are no limits or restrictions and there is absolutely no packaging. It has been called a new shopping concept, but I would say it’s the original way – like our grandparents would have done. In past years, you would take your basket or bag to individual shops and only buy what you needed and wanted – without the waste and packaging. Supermarkets made it convenient to buy produce packaged in plastic – this then became the status quo.
Why is sustainability important to NADA?
Being zero-waste is a commitment – it takes a long time; it’s not a quick decision or something you do overnight. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s a journey and very few people live an entirely zero-waste lifestyle – though I know that there are some. I think reducing our waste, buying in a more mindful way and being aware of what we purchase is a great place to start; it’s about reducing, reusing and keeping things out of landfill. Planning is also a big part of becoming zero-waste. Think about what you use most in your daily life and plan to deal with those situations. For example, if you drink a lot of water, carry a reusable water bottle.
I’d like to make shopping package-free easier to access – we currently have a click and collect service available. We have also started working closely with other retailers and have expanded our range. We’ve got other ideas in the pipeline too, I can’t say anything yet, but make sure you keep an eye on our blog. ■