It’s been a bit quiet on the blog these last few weeks. I’ve been struggling to write about the tiny, small efforts we are making at home, because I haven’t felt particularly inspired by them, in the great whirl of Extinction Rebellion protests, and the darkening knowledge of what is happening across the planet. The realization that really, only declaring ecocide an international illegality, and holding to account those that perpetrate it, will turn the tables on our current planetary trajectory. Bamboo toothbrushes, turning off the lights when we leave rooms, composting our food scraps – it all feels like too little, too late. And yet I won’t stop doing all that and more, as if on autopilot. It just jars, angrily, grief stricken, with the knowledge that the greatest changes, the ones that could really make the difference, are still being fought for.
Two years ago, I was determined to open up a zero waste shop in Newcastle, visualizing the absolute transformation to our consumer power having such a shop could create. Despite my huge doubts, the most gargantuan ones being whether quiet, introverted me could bear to be customer facing again for all the hours of every day, and how playing shop keeper would impact on my health, my children’s home education, and my need to sew and paint and read and be quiet and alone regularly. Could I be tidy enough to keep the health and safety folk at bay, and not have multiple trip/fall hazards daily? Could I be mathematically organised enough to balance the books and turn enough of a profit to keep everything afloat? As it turned out, the universe had different plans. The end of a thirteen year relationship with the father of my children, and the beginning of an adventure in single parenting, home education of two very different children with very different needs, making ends meet began. I have spent the last year rediscovering the me I had been before, and the me I have grown into. With no time or money for the zero waste shop of my dreams, I realized very quickly that it was never about one shop. That actually, there should be a package free shop in walking distance of everyone’s home – like the corner shops we used to rely on for so much years ago. So I began to promote and support the brave shopkeepers, earth keepers, pioneers, who were stepping up and making package free shopping a reality in their local areas. If I wasn’t able to do it myself, I could definitely support those who could.
This week, I took the girls to visit a zero waste shop for the first time. Despite a good number of plastic free shops springing up in the North East, we’d not been into any before. A distinct lack of disposable income has meant that travelling to any of the zero waste shops, let alone actually buying stuff there, hasn’t felt feasible. However, there is now a wonderful package free shop open directly in our path to a weekly home ed nature meet we attend, and so this week, we went in. The girls loved it, and really got, instantly, why it was such an important place, and the impact it would have. My 12 year old was very keen to weigh and measure mango and banana chips – just enough for a snack each, and totally affordable because we were buying just what we needed and no more – and both girls enjoyed a package free chocolate biscuit. I might have devoured a delicious package free ginger biscuit on the way to the bus stop too…
The children’s enthusiasm and excitement really did something to reverse the downward spiral my save-the-planet mindset has been on. And the shop itself, along with owner Lauren, really did cheer me. Good things are happening, despite the constant overwhelming feeling that we’re plunging into darker times. So many people are working hard to make a difference in their local community, and added altogether, that creates such a huge wave of change. I’m going to spend this week trying to ride the wave, and not let it carry me out to sea.
Something Good Newcastle can be found at 265 Jesmond Road, and is full of all the things you could imagine wanting plastic free. From breakfast cereal and pasta, to refillable shampoo and washing up liquid, you can bring your own containers and only pay for what you need, instead of industry standard volumes. As a space, it has all the clean lines and good organisation that makes it easy to shop, and the huge front window brings in the light, and shines like a welcoming beacon into the dark of these early winter days. Go visit them if you live close, and if you don’t find your local zero waste shop – they’re popping up all over. Support them. Buy what you can with them. One day, they will be the norm again, and the huge supermarkets, with their vast volumes of waste, will have to step on the plastic-free train or be gone for good.
“Our mission: we want it to be simple and affordable for anyone to make small, sustainable changes towards a low impact, low waste lifestyle. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to live and shop ethically.”
Lauren Wedderburn, Founder of Something Good
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