Meet the owner and find out why reducing waste could never be easier
There has been an explosion of ‘zero waste’ shops in the past 5 years thanks to an increasing consumer awareness of environmental issues and the ‘war on plastic’. Harriets of Hove is one such shop and is a real gem in the heart of BN3.
I was particularly interested in talking Harriet as I’d heard on the grapevine she was an NHS nurse. Having worked in the NHS myself I was keen to explore her thoughts on the medical profession and the environmental sciences which, historically, have been worlds apart. Similar to me, Harriet witnessed first hand the environmental impact of the NHS. Our chat reminded me of why I moved into the area of sustainability. I was horrified at the amount hospital food that was wasted and the use of cheap, factory farmed meats.
For Harriet, seeing the sheer amount of disposed plastic lead to the epiphany that ultimately resulted in her pantry. Despite taking up a role as a NHS sustainability ambassador she was frustrated how slow it was to change. On top of this, Harriet struggled to fit in ‘zero-waste’ shopping with nursing shifts as it was time consuming. Going it alone and setting up her own business seemed like the ideal solution.
Walking into the pantry you are faced with a wonderful display of plastic-free/eco goodies. The refillable products range from floor cleaner to shampoo. Harriet tries to source local, environmentally friendly brands such as the Green Goddess. There’s also an enticing range of dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Despite 90’s dance music playing in the background the shop had had a tranquil feel! Customers took their time to browse, chatting about the products and environmental issues. As I spent more time there I couldn’t help but feel that shopping in this way is a much more socially enriched experience than going to other, larger retail outlets.
facts about Harriet and her plastic free pantry
It was great to meet Harriet and we had so much to chat about. Understandably she is really enthusiastic about her shop, products and team. I’ve chosen some great facts from our interview:
- It only took 3 months to take her dream of having her own ‘zero waste’ shop to a reality. She describes the whole process as ‘really fun and exhilarating’.
- Her refills are very affordable. I witnessed myself the nervousness of a new shopper re-filling their plastic container and the pleasant surprise when it came back “much less than I imagined!” As Harriet quite rightly pointed out “if it was expensive it wouldn’t be good for business”.
- Every product has a story. Many brands have started with people who have wanted to make real change for the good.
- Harriet stocks a wide range of goods from soap to olive oil. I particularly liked the toothclean tablets (tubes are impossible to recycle!)
- If you can’t get into her shop you’ll soon be able to buy online. Keep an eye out: harrietsofhove.com
- Harriet’s favourite product is the sustainable glitter (made by a lady ‘just round the corner’) and the Apple Cider Vinegar (the company come and collect the empty vat as a new one is delivered as part of the service).
- HOH isn’t just stopping at being a retail outlet. Future plans include hosting workshops, arts + crafts activities, talks and discussions when the shop isn’t in use.
Harriet’s ‘zero waste’ top-tips
- Save shampoo and conditioner bottles as they are the most durable bottle for refilling
- Try Beeswax wraps instead of cling film (sold in store)
- Make a container out of anything; plastic bag for rubbish, empty tins for pen pots etc
Try and get into a habit of re-using containers in a way that works for you. I find having one full bottle in use and another spare, empty version in a box near the door. This is so that when you’re about to leave you can see your refill pile totting up. The number of times I’ve failed to fill up a my bottle and then had to buy a whole new product because I not got out in time to refill it!
If you are in the Brighton and Hove area, I highly recommend popping in! You can find Harriets of Hove here: