Hi, I’m Sarah and I run a zero-waste store called Shop Zero in Nottingham City centre! My aim is to empower folks to live more sustainably and reduce their impact on the environment. Many of us have been shocked by the stories of environmental disasters and threat in our world. We want to do things differently and it can be hard to know where to start. I want to help.

My catch phrase is ‘We are Nature’ – to me this means that we are part of this world, not separate from, and thus we have a responsibility to tread lightly. I use my skills and knowledge from previous work and studies in sustainability and environment to work with others for real change.

So when you come to Shop Zero you bring your own containers. This way of shopping means you avoid unnecessary packaging.. You can choose the quantity that you want (big or small). Plus you’ll even get discounts for buying food in bulk. So no more finding those old half used bags of lentils at the back of the cupboard; so maybe bring in your favourite recipe and get the exact quantities that you need.

Our stock includes store cupboard essentials like pasta, rice and pulses and baking essentials, plus little luxuries like locally roasted coffee and loose-leaf tea (much is organic where affordable). My aim is to stock dry goods that are usually hard to find without unrecyclable plastic packaging. You can also refill your household detergent bottles, and shampoo, conditioner and body wash etc. All this will save you money on the originals, plus you get to reuse a bottle that would ordinarily go to waste or recycling.

Everything you need under one roof!
Our shop may be petite, but you’ll also find a great range of natural personal care items such as reusable make-up pads, washable sanitary pads, natural deodorant and bamboo toothbrushes. And you can pick up great versions of the ‘Big 4 re-usables’ for ‘on-the-go’ swaps, which include metal water bottles, cups and lunchboxes and straws. Ultimately this ‘ditch and switch’ approach will not only reduce waste and resources, it will also save you money as you won’t need to be purchasing food and drink when you’re out and about.

Our top sellers are:
Food – organic oats, our range of organic pasta and organic rice.
For detergent refills – laundry and washing-up liquids.
For Home it’s ‘un-sponges’ (a biodegradable replacement for a plastic sponge) and wax wraps (a sustainable swap for cling film)
And personal care bamboo toothbrushes, natural deodorant and reusable make-up pads come out on top.
And for ‘on-the-go’ items, it’s definitely metal straws.

Learn Zero
We also run sustainable living workshops through our Learn Zero programme. We work with local organisations to offer great value workshops so that you can gain skills for a more ecofriendly life. Workshops so far have included make-your-own sanitary ware, fursohiki fabric gift wrapping plus ecofriendly, vegan all-natural personal care items like soap and lip balms, which form part of the part of our Zero Waste Beauty Club.

I also organised the wonderful Conscious Christmas gift market in 2019 to help people shop more sustainably and showcase local makers who work with the environment in mind.

Responsible purchasing
Choosing environmentally friendly products can be a minefield. I spend time checking out the provenance of the goods in store so you can be assured that as well as being great quality, the products as well-sourced as they can be at the present time. This includes the welfare of the people who made the items, how they are ship and be reassured that they can be disposed of responsibly if they reach the end of their life. Building in responsible purchasing is not always the cheapest. But it’s so much better to consider this up front to reduce costs to our Planet both in money problems in the future.

Not only saving the planet but also considering your purse too!
Living a lower waste life has definitely saved me money. This is an ethos that flows into my business. I am more likely to hang onto things and not rush to replace. I am more considered with my purchases and follow the ‘buy once buy well’ mantra, choosing good quality that will last longer and if I can get what I need second hand then that’s great! I also run Nottingham Fixers community Repair Café and mend before replacing items. I also plan meals carefully and cook from scratch. This helps to avoid food waste and means I am less likely to need a dash to the shops where I am likely to be tempted to buy food I don’t really need (we’ve all been there right?)

Top Tip for changes

  • Keep it simple
    Once you realise that you want to make changes, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. So I recommend not taking on too much but choose one or two things that you can realistically change. Stick to them the best you can and don’t feel disheartened if you fall off the wagon, just get back on and try again. There is no room for guilt in this!
  • Ditch and Switch. Make sure you’re on top of the Big 4 (+1) Reusables so as to avoid single-use packaging. So make sure you carry a * water bottle/*reusable cup, *produce bags (for fruit and veg and bread), *straws (if you use one) and maybe a *lunch box.
  • Shop local
    Grab your containers and search out your local zero waste shop, and greengrocers etc . They’re likely to have more unpackaged goods than the supermaket. And shopping locally also means you support your community and keep money in the local economy.
  • Audit your waste
    Take a look at what goes in your bin (and recycling bin as only 9% of plastic gets recycled). This will give you an idea of what to change.
  • Choose a room
    Maybe there is one room where you create the most waste? Could you target the bathroom and swap to a shampoo bar for example? Or get your shower gel bottle refilled? In the kitchen, switch to eco-friendly cleaning products like bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar (join us on our Eco-cleaning course in February for more ideas). Choose some sustainable swaps like wax wraps for cling film, an unsponge for that plastic sponge, washable face wipes for cotton pads.
  • Plan more
    Get yourself a bag big enough for all your reusable and keep them in there and your less likely to get caught out!

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about Shop Zero and my ideas for a lower impact life. Best wishes and see you soon,

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