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Unwrapped: Plastic-free produce

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Unwrapped at 152-154 Crookes. Photo by Unwrapped.

A few years ago it was an unknown concept, but now zero-waste shops are opening all over the country. It's partly down to the growing awareness of plastic pollution, much of which ends up in our rivers and oceans, virtually forever. We spoke to Rebecca Atkinson, ex-scientist and co-founder of Unwrapped, to find out how they tackle the plastic problem.

What inspired you to found Unwrapped?

We have always been environmentalists and running a business that reflects our values was very important to us. We were aware of a small number of zero-waste shops that had opened in the south of England, but there weren't any in our region at the time. We wanted to make zero-waste shopping accessible and located in a city district with good public transport links. We wanted to be a community-focused shop.

We'd like to see supermarkets have loose options and find ways to lower the impact of their goods

For those who haven't been before, how does it work?

The idea is to bring your own containers from home, anything from tupperware to glass jars and fabric bags. You weigh your container, fill up with produce, then come to the till. It's really easy when you get the hang of it.

What products do you offer?

We sell a good range of wholefoods, with both non-organic and organic options. We also have detergent and cleaner refills, shampoo, conditioner and handwash. There's an oil and vinegar section at the back of the shop that is easy to miss. You can also freshly grind your own peanut butter in store.

What do you think big supermarkets could take from zero-waste shops?

Packaged food in supermarkets is extremely important for some people, like those with allergies. We'd like to see supermarkets have loose options and find ways to lower the impact of their goods. For example, demand fully recyclable or home compostable packaging from manufacturers, move towards closed-loop systems and broaden the range of vegetarian and vegan foods.

What are your plans for the shop?

We have just advertised for new staff and we're hoping they will bring new ideas with them. With their help we'll continue to expand the products we have in the shop. We may well purchase another nut butter machine...

Sam Gregory

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Photo by Unwrapped

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