The Burton Latimer store tackling plastic pollution

We've all seen the heartbreaking images of marine life stuck in plastic discarded in the sea.

Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 2:38 pm
Danielle Betts.

And yet most of us still buy food and other items wrapped in unnecessary packaging on a weekly basis.

Now a shop in Burton Latimer is doing their bit to tackle the plastic pollution problem.

The Refill Station, tucked away in The Galleria in High Street, allows customers to bring in old plastic tubs and fill them with items including dried pasta, nuts, spices, lentils and chickpeas. It not only ensures that one piece of plastic is re-used, but means another is not needlessly set on a chain of events that could see it contribute to an animal dying.

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The store also sells pollution free items such as straws and brushes.

Owner Danielle Betts, 30, said: "In supermarkets it's cheaper to buy things packaged and I don't understand how. You go to a shop and you get three peppers for 80p, wrapped in plastic, or one unwrapped for 50p. That's part of the problem.

"You don't have to shop here to the value that you do in a supermarket. If you only want 60ps' worth, you can have 60ps' worth. If you want 200g, you can have 200g.

"And you're re-using plastic that otherwise would have gone in the bin."

Refill stations are starting to pop up more and more nationally but they are few and far between in Northamptonshire.

Loose spices and dried goods are sold by weight and dispensed into customers' own plastic tubs.

One opened in Oundle earlier this year with another found in Market Harborough in nearby Leicestershire. Danielle was a regular visitor to the Market Harborough store when she decided she needed to do more for the environment.

After the birth of her daughter Ella, who is now 14-months-old, she soon realised how much plastic she was going through with nappies and began using re-usable ones which she now sells.

After several trips with a friend she decided she could run one herself in her home town and opened in June, selling refillable goods on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

As well as dried foods she sells refillable shower gels, washing liquids and detergents as well as pollution-free toothbrushes, soap, books and straws. She also makes her own almond, cashew and oat milk.

Liquids such as washing up liquid and shampoo can also be dispensed into re-used plastic bottles.

Danielle, who now lives in Raunds, said: "People can bring whatever they like to put things in really.

"That way they can take as much or as little as they want.

"Some people bring bottles that are half-full and that's fine if they want a top up. We even had one customer bring an old bread bag to put their refills in, which I thought was quite inventive."

Every day about eight million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans. It's estimated that by 2050 the ocean will have more weight by plastic than fish.

Danielle, whose mum Caroline helps run the shop, said she finds images of plastic pollution "heartbreaking".

The shop has been popular with customers travelling from across the county to visit. Since the store opened Danielle has sold 30kg of pasta alone, preventing about 60 plastic pasta bags from going into a bin.

Regular customer Silke Spingies said: "I live around the corner and bring any old containers to come and get lentils, chickpeas and oats.

"Like everyone else I've seen pictures of animals in the sea struggling with plastic and it's upsetting.

"I think there should be more of these refill stations. It's not a big ask to take your own container to a shop and it does make a difference."

Many of the loose items are not only more environmentally friendly but cheaper than a supermarket. 10g of sage, for example, costs just 12p. In Tesco a 12g pot can cost 74p.

Last weekend Danielle took her refills for a pop-up event in Wellingborough and she said she hopes more similar shops will open across the county.

She urged Northamptonshire families to think about their plastic use and make a difference.

She said: "Even by making one change at home as a family you are making a difference.

"If every family could identify their biggest use of plastic and make that change it would have an impact on our planet."