COP26, looming climate anxiety, and what seems like irreversible damage to the environment; this is the world we live in today. However, in the midst of a seemingly bleak present (and future), there are some bright spots in our communities if you look for them.


One of those bright spots is Healthier Without, a zero waste shop run by Marjorie Watts, her family, and aided by local volunteers. Of course, the pandemic was difficult for them as it was for most independent businesses. But after closing for three months and adapting to a changing world of face masks, constant disinfection and anxious customers, Healthier Without has come out of the pandemic stronger than ever. 


Walking in to Healthier Without, you’re immediately greeted by Marjorie, the owner, but also by wholesome decorations that truly emphasise the community-oriented nature of the shop. The atmosphere is kind and uncomplicated, which is no doubt why it’s popular across generations. Their decisions on what to stock are also influenced by what the customers want to see. Being constantly bombarded by plastics is a common concern people have about shopping, and while there are some big names like Iceland who pledge to become plastic free, locally-run businesses like Healthier Without are definitely pioneers in terms of listening to consumers.

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If you are unaware of what a zero waste shop is, they are part of a growing revolution in the way people shop for necessities. Customers bring their own containers and take what they need from the bins of food (mostly easy to store things, like rice, pasta, pulses and the like). Then they weigh what they’ve taken, and pay accordingly. Quite simple, right?

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When asking about people’s opinions on the idea of zero waste shopping, a common thought was “there’s probably the same amount of single use packaging behind the scenes as there is in major supermarkets”. Assumptions like this discourage people from branching out and shopping smaller or make use of the zero waste facilities in their areas. Healthier Without’s suppliers recycle containers and make use of compostable materials to package goods. No part of Healthier Without’s system feels disingenuous, or even like a shortcut. 

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Another common assumption: the previous generation are mostly apathetic about issues to do with the climate. This idea that entire generations can be reduced into monoliths is false, and the elderly are frequent customers of Healthier Without, making conscious efforts to reduce their carbon footprints sometimes as much as (or more than) young people. It’s important that when people talk about environmental issues, it’s about everyone who is and was affected. Creating more divisions only helps perpetuate these problems in the first place. We need to make sure that we are all listened to by people in power.



Marjorie Watts’ vision for the near future? Zero waste shops on every high street. Having accessible options for people might lessen people’s skepticism about zero waste shopping, and make it not just a viable option, but the first option.