About one week ago, a new shop opened its door in Merton Abbey Mills.
It’s not just another shop: it’s on a mission and the mission is to reduce the plastic waste in the area.
Welcome to Zéro, where you bring your own containers (but some are available on sale in the shop if you forget) to fill with a lovely range of products, mostly food but also washing liquids, reusable toothbrushes, organic cotton fruit nets and more.
I have met Alicia and Josh, the lovely and friendly Zéro owners, to chat about their new adventure:
- Introduce yourself
We are Alicia and Josh, we are an Anglo-French couple currently living in South Wimbledon. Having met in Italy and lived both in France and England we enjoy discovering new cultures and experimenting with alternative ways of living.
- What has inspired you to set up Zéro?
In July 2018 we joined the “Plastic Free July” challenge and tried to give up on single-use plastic for 1 month. To our surprise, the challenge turned out to be a daily uphill struggle and we realised that we couldn’t be the only ones who felt this way!
We drew our inspiration for Zéro from the continental European model of zero waste grocery shopping, where there is still a culture of going to specialised shops for individual items e.g. bakery for bread, cheesemonger for cheese etc. We used to shop in such establishments when we lived in France and Italy and thought there was no reason why the model should not be replicable in the UK. After all, this is how all shops used to be in this country as well before supermarkets monopolised the market!
- Why did you choose this location?
As soon as we came to Merton Abbey Mills we knew that the area was perfect for our shop. There is a nice mix of shops and restaurants at the Mills and there is such a positive vibe to the place.
It is ideally located for us too as we live in South Wimbledon so are able to walk or cycle to and from the shop when the weather permits as opposed to driving.
- Are you local? What do you love about Merton?
We are still relatively new to the area, having moved to Wimbledon in May 2018. Josh hasn’t moved too far though as he is originally from Farnham, Surrey.
Neither of us comes from big cities and we liked the “village-like” atmosphere that you can find in certain parts of Merton. The people we’ve met here have generally been very friendly and we like that there are a lot of green spaces and green initiatives in the area.
- What are your tips for a sustainable life?
We could go on forever with this question!
Taking the first step towards a simplified lifestyle can seem like a big leap into the unknown. But sometimes changing even the smallest seemingly insignificant behaviours can have a big impact. Make small changes, nobody alters their whole lifestyle overnight. Start questioning aspects of your daily routine such as “what do I do with my teabags once I have made my cup of tea in the morning?” gradually you can start to build on this: “do I need tea bags, are there not more sustainable alternatives available? Could I buy loose tea instead?” and then even in time “where is this tea coming from? Is it sustainably sourced?”. This type of dynamic can be applied to other aspects of your daily routine until one day you realise that you have turned a corner and are now leading a much more sustainable life!
Another good habit to develop is to simply talk about sustainability around you. You will soon realise that most people have the same concerns as you do regarding this topic and you might find inspiration in others.
- What’s the product you think will have the most success?
It is hard to tell, everyone is different… Hopefully, we can cater for various needs. We plan to expand the product range gradually, introducing new items as we go. Seeing ourselves as another form of general grocery shopping, we like to think that people will find our range appealing as a whole.
- What are your aspirations?
We hope that more zero waste shops open up and down the country in the next few years and start to be seen as an alternative to supermarkets. If we can be a small part of this, we’ll be very happy!
Thank you, Alicia and Josh!
Zéro is at Unit 7, The Apprentice Shop, 14 Watermill Way, London SW19 2RD.