The zero-waster’s refill guide to Warwickshire and beyond
Striving to achieve your green goals? Warwickshire's rising number of eco-friendly refill stores has it covered. Here's our pick of the 15 best locally.
Everyday zero-waste shopping is the growing lifestyle trend here to stay – not least in the West Midlands. Muddy writer Cat Thompson has compiled a useful guide to independent plastic-free refill stores in and around Warwickshire to help you on your eco journey.
Zero: Russell Street, Leamington Spa
Like many pioneering zero-wasters, Zero began as a pop-up run by Coventry friends Charlie Demetriou and Marisa Edworthy. Zero’s green ethos is reinforced by its commitment to local producers and its circular system of refilling its large liquid containers, rather than replacing them.
With a rise in novice bakers, flour proved a precious commodity during lockdown, and Zero shoppers were no exception. While it caused a bit of a stir, Charlie says it led to a lot of new customers flocking to the store which stocks a range of dry foods including beans and pulses, spices and tea – not to mention the shop’s own zero-waste take on Nutella, courtesy of a rather novel nut-butter machine.
As well as the essentials, non-foods items include a range of handy accessories, from wooden sporks to sandwich wraps, covering every eco-hack imaginable. Given Zero’s booming success, (named last year’s Muddy business ‘newcomer’ no less) unstoppable Charlie has set her sights on neighbouring Kenilworth – so watch this space!
Open Wed-Thurs, 9am to 12pm, and Fri to Sat, 9am to 2pm. A click and collect service is available.
CORE: Park Street, Leamington
Self-professed foodies Alex Daniels and Beth Smith took matters into their own hands after becoming frustrated with copious plastic packaging encountered during their weekly shop. They began a zero-waste pop-up stall, at the Canalside Community Food scheme in Radford Semele, before finding a permanent home for their plastic-free wares. Sustainability is truly at the heart of the aptly named store whose owners thought of everything from scaffold shelving, to old paper packaging for shoppers to note down their items, in pencil that is, so they can be rubbed out for the next customer. The store specialises in both vegan and organic goods, from cereals and cupboard ingredients to cleaning products and toiletries.
Open Wed-Sat from 10am to 5pm, Tues, 10am to 6.30pm, and Sun, 10am to 4pm.
Bumbles Coffee House and Lifestyle Store: Alcester Road, Studley
Bumbles is a family-run coffee house with a difference founded last November by 30-year-old eco-conscious mum-of-two Ella Clarke. This indie favourite not only serves delicious coffee, innovative beverages and freshly baked bread and cakes, it stocks a number of eco-friendly items including soaps, soy candles, reusable flasks as well as a paper-wrapped toilet roll, and refillable dried goods, and laundry liquid and bars, courtesy of Zero’s Charlie.
Open Wed to Fri from 9.30am to 3pm, and Sundays from 10am to 2pm. Click and collect or takeaway only.
Wild and Free: Bank Street, Rugby
As well as being Rugbian’s go-to indie store for fresh and organic fruit and veg, Wild and Free customers can also fill up on laundry detergent, toiletries and soap, and browse eco products including bamboo toothbrushes and natural cleaning materials. The team hopes to expand its zero-waste offering in the near future but, in the meantime, assures its goods are sustainably packaged and shopping bags biodegradable.
While opening times can vary, customers can generally visit the shop on Fri from 10.30pm to 4pm and Sat from 11am to 4pm, but be sure to check the Wild and Free Facebook page beforehand. A fruit and veg box delivery service is also available.
Rugby Unwrapped: Church Street, Rugby
Local girls Clair Saxton and Sharon Lee achieved their zero-waste dreams by opening a store on their doorstep after growing concerned over the carbon footprint generated by their work commute. With a focus on affordable products, the duo also pride themselves on selling items including cleaning and laundry products, toilet roll and preserves, all from producers within 30 miles.
The shop is open Tues to Fri from 10am to 5pm, and Sat, 10am to 4pm. A click-and-collect and delivery service is currently in place.
Greenbean: Smith Street, Warwick
Greenbean counts itself among the historical town’s growing legion of independent shops. Owners Michele and Stephen Forge launched the shop in November to promote sustainable living, and to turn the tide on single-use plastic. The shop boats a generous selection of dried goods including pasta, pulses, baking products and spices as well as fruit and veg, locally sourced milk in glass bottles and free-range eggs. Natural and eco products include toilet paper, bamboo toothbrushes and even refillable floss.
The shop is open Mon-Sat from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
Refill Box: Shrieves Walk, Stratford-Upon-Avon
Environmentalist Natasha Wicks recently launched Stratford’s first dedicated zero-waste store. Although lockdown has proved a challenging time for businesses, let alone brand-new ones, Refill Box has been welcomed by Stratford residents with open arms (and containers). The store’s fare is entirely vegan and largely organic with a few exceptions. Natasha says her herbs and spices, courtesy of Spicy Joe’s in Rugby, are a bestseller and brags about her vegan sweets at any opportunity.
Refill Box is currently open from Tuesday to Friday, 10am until 1pm, and Saturday, 10am to 5pm. The times are set to change later this month so keep updated via the store’s Facebook page.
The Farm, Snitterfield, Stratford-upon-Avon
This Muddy-award-winning farm shop, deli and Nourish restaurant has an extensive unpackaged range of household essentials, loose wholefood products along with fresh fruit and veg. Here artisan producers and local suppliers are the heartbeat of their business – with 95% based within a 20 mile radius.
Eco Health Shop: Abbeygate, Nuneaton
Nuneaton’s answer to eco-conscious shopping, The Eco Health Shop boasts a range of package-free ingredients and staples including vegan chocolate Smarties and other sweetie essentials! Its non-food refillable range includes eco cleaning products and items including scrubbers and metal straws.
Open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 1.30pm.
Down to Earth Organic: Earlsdon, Coventry
One of the original pioneers of the zero-waste movement, founder Suzanne Bristow’s organic veg box service progressed to an eco-friendly and package-free store in 1999, slowly expanding its range of organic wholefoods as well as household and body care items. During lockdown, the store proved popular among residents, serving the local community in a time of need and keeping them safe through a single customer policy and delivery service. Like many zero-waste businesses battling lockdown, Suzanne says Down to Earth has emerged victorious, with the message to shop local stronger than ever.
Open Tue-Fri, 9.30am to 5.30pm, and Sat, 10am to 5.30pm.
The Clean Kilo: Gibb Street, Birmingham and Mary Vale Road, Bournville
Winner of Best Ethical Food Project in the the Observer Food Monthly (OFM) Awards 2019, The Clean Kilo was founded by plastic naysayers Jeanette Wong and Tom Pell. It first cropped up on Brum’s progressive Digbeth scene in 2018, later followed by its Bournville branch. The shops sell a range of dried-goods, beauty and cleaning products, package-free fruit and veg – not to mention refillable crisps (nothing to stop us now!). The Digbeth store is currently open Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 11am to 6pm, and Bournville shoppers can visit Tuesday to Sunday. Times vary so visit the website for more information.
Solihull Zero Wasters: Lyndon Road, Solihull
An eco offering with community at its heart, this refill emporium is based above charity café, Changes Coffee. Profits from its all-vegan products help fund environmental projects and provide animal sanctuaries a welcome boost. If that wasn’t enough, founder Simone Hurst operates a recycling hub for the unrecyclable, including batteries, tubes and toothbrushes, while clothing is distributed to women’s refuges and homeless shelters.
The service is continuing to operate on an appointment only basis but plans to relaunch for visitors shortly.
Redditch Refill for Life: Winyates Craft Centre, Redditch
Not only is the store Redditch’s answer to zero-waste, it forms part of a community interest company, Inspire Community Training, a support service for people struggling with emotional and mental health issues. As well as a range of food and non-food refillables, Karen Martin’s shop sells handmade items crafted by learners benefiting from the organisation. Operating as delivery-only throughout lockdown, the team finally welcomed customers back this week.
Visit from 10am to 3pm, Mon-Fri
Nature’s Intention: Highstreet, Bromsgrove
This well-stocked store tucked at the end of Bromsgrove Highstreet is chock-full of refillable goods with some of the more luxury items including confectionary, nuts and seeds, beauty products and even hankies. Owner Emily Attwell is keen to encourage parents to buy reusable nappies as an alternative to their plastic counterparts which, despite making parent life much easier, sadly take hundreds of years to break down.
Open Tues-Sat, 10am to 5pm. It also offers a click and collect service with collection available between 5pm and 7pm on Thur and Sat.
The Zero Waste Pantry, Daylesford Organic Farm, Kingham
Launched in 2019, the Zero Waste Pantry saw all single-use packaging replaced with refillable vessels. As well as loose dry products there’s a honey dispensary featuring four organic honeys and an olive oil and vinegar dispensary, allowing customers to fill their own sustainable bottles or jars, a kombucha bar with organic kombucha available on tap, freshly made juices and a water refill station.