Harriet, of Harriet’s of Hove, began her journey to opening a climate-friendly business just before Christmas in 2018.
Spurred on by increasing concerns about the damage plastics are doing to the planet, Harriet and her partner Mhiran opened a plant-based refill shop in Blatchington Road.
Customers can now browse from more than 500 plastic-free products and stock up on food, household products, toiletries and gifts.
A former nurse, Harriet had no previous experience of setting up a small business. As a result there have been many challenges, but building up the business from scratch has provided an opportunity to show how a different way of doing things is possible.
”We wanted to offer our community a different way to shop for sustainable and ethical products free from single use plastics,” says Harriet. “Offering a sustainable way to shop is changing behaviour and has a direct effect on reducing emissions.”
Customers can bring in bottles, jars, packets and pots to be filled – items which would normally be thrown away or put in the recycling.
On one supplier alone, Harriet’s of Hove has saved 24,000 bottles from having to be made and then thrown away.
Barrels of washing and laundry liquid remove the need for 20 individual plastic bottles.
The shop also stocks empty glass bottles that people can either keep for multiple refills or return. So far, 60% – 2,000 glass bottles – have been returned for re-use.
If everyone used refill for 2 items a week, they would save an enormous amount of packaging over a year – more than 100 pieces, much of it plastic.
Read more about how easy it is to make small changes and a big impact on reducing plastic waste.
Save money, save the planet
Shopping in this way doesn’t have to be more expensive.
With the cost of living rising, Harriet’s of Hove carried out a price comparison with a leading supermarket. The shop came out cheaper on many items, including cocoa, dried fruit, spices and rice.
You can buy just what you need, so it is easier to budget as well as producing less waste. The cost is worked out without packaging, so you only pay for the goods, not the packet, jar or bottle.
You can bring any container to have filled, which keeps it in use for longer and saves money on waste disposal and recycling.
Creating social value
Businesses can create social value by having a positive impact on their local communities, environment and economy.
Harriet’s of Hove supports local suppliers by stocking their products, and shares experiences and expertise with like-minded businesses working to be more sustainable, such as Barnes + Binns.
They help local people to take small actions to be more sustainable and support the community of local ‘high streets’ in the city.
Harriet’s of Hove is also a Brighton & Hove Living Wage employer.
“Everyone who works here wants to give people a positive experience and let them know we’re here for everyone. It’s a community hub and we want to help,” says Harriet.
Working together for a new local economy
Businesses can partner with others in their area to supply each other. For example, as well as having locally made stock, Harriet’s of Hove supplies anti-bacterials in bulk to local shops and cafes.
Businesses that are keeping products and materials in use, designing out waste and pollution and using renewable resources, are contributing to Brighton & Hove’s circular economy. The council has just published its circular economy route map and action plan to support businesses in their circular economy journey.
Harriet says: “We welcome the opportunity to work with other businesses and organisations. There’s space for all of us. If we can collaborate more positively, we will have a greater impact and make it possible and affordable for more people to be sustainable.”
Tell your story
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Our South Downs is for any business located in or around the South Downs National Park. It’s a free initiative to help restore nature and kickstart a climate-friendly economy after the pandemic. It includes the opportunity to join an internationally recognised ‘Green South Downs’ certification scheme that champions sustainability.