At our Portholme development in Selby, we’re building homes that will help a community live sustainably, long after owners turn their front door key for the first time. Making major strides locally is Refill It, a zero-waste grocer in Selby that’s growing fast. We paid a visit and asked Emma Gregory, the owner, for a few pointers.
What was the spark of inspiration for the shop?
I've a family of four – but when my last son was born, I suddenly became increasingly aware of all the plastic waste that was being produced in our household, particularly when you take baby products into account.
So, when a friend of mine opened a zero-waste store in a nearby Yorkshire town, I kept tabs on their progress for a while. I decided I wanted to do a similar thing that supported sustainable living where we are in Selby, so I put a plan together and went with it!
Timing-wise, the pandemic posed a really big challenge as we’d just started trading, but we’ve pulled through.
Have you seen a positive response from the local community since opening up? How about any surprising changes or unexpected success?
What surprised me immediately was how quickly our social media following grew, as well as all the positive feedback we receive on a weekly basis about the store. It was reassuring to know that there was a lot of people nearby that could get their heads around such a shop.
Bringing bags, jars and boxes to the shop is still ‘new’ to a lot of consumers, but the tide is turning – and some parts of this have been an uphill battle with all the recent restrictions amid the pandemic.
People are still frightened about coronavirus, but we have a lovely and loyal customer base that’s becoming a thriving community in itself. I’ve watched people’s shopping habits change and also the amount they spend in the store.
I’ve received several comments about how it’s become a healthy challenge at home to see what other items they can replace to reduce plastic waste.
How do you make ‘zero-waste’ living accessible? Have you had many customers ask about sustainable living?
Like any grocer, being as convenient as possible to your customers is essential – we’re open seven days a week so that anyone can come into store at a time that suits them.
I source all the products personally to make sure that they are ethically produced and as locally as possible, but I also check prices. We remain highly comparable to the supermarkets as cost is an issue for most people.
In the shop, there’s a lot of conversations around sustainability and the environment, particularly in respect of becoming more sustainable at home. I’ve heard chatter about planting your own fruit and vegetables, buying local produce, reusing and repurposing items, even making old clothes into dusters, among other things.
I’ve already learnt a lot from customers that have been living more sustainably for a lot longer than I have. I learn something new practically every day, which is great!
What are your top three tips for living sustainably?
- Don’t try and rush it, take one small step at a time. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not doing things perfectly from the start either.
- Try and think outside the box with things – don’t be afraid to find sustainable ideas of your own.
- Find your nearest zero-waste shop and support them.
With an abundance of sustainably made homes – from first, family and forever homes – on the doorstep of Selby, there’s never been a better time to pay a visit to our show homes at Portholme.
Get in touch with our team today and you could be part of a growing community in no time, with move in as early as Autumn 2021.