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Refill room at Swaffham food store reduces single-use plastic

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An independent health food shop has saved over 5,000 plastic bags and 1,000 plastic bottles during 2018 through its zero-waste room.

Bosses of the Green Parrot in Swaffham say they have had visitors from Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Suffolk since installing a room specifically aimed at reducing single-use plastic.

Having installed the room last Easter, the scheme has proven very popular.

Customers bring in their own containers which are then filled up with bulk buy foods such as pasta, lentils, nuts, seeds and rice.

Elizabeth Marriott (Shop Manager)
Elizabeth Marriott (Shop Manager)

There are also refills for shampoo, washing up liquid and other household items.

The store has 25 kilo sacks of food in the refill room which has been “unbelievably successful” according to its manager Elizabeth Marriott.

She said: “We had queues all the way through the shop so we had to find a way of expanding and helping cut packaging down.

“What we did was introduce a refill room which means we have those dispensers where people dispense their food into containers.

“Since we installed the room last year, it has grown and grown.”

Elizabeth Marriott (Shop Manager) holding products in the Refill Room at the Green Parrot, Swaffham
Elizabeth Marriott (Shop Manager) holding products in the Refill Room at the Green Parrot, Swaffham

Hemp bags are also produced for the store by a group of local women, who also send them to Starlings, another independent shop located on the Market Place in the town. All proceeds from these bags go to local charities.

Mrs Marriott hopes reducing single-use plastic will be adopted by bigger chain stores in time too.

She said: “I hope that with all the awareness around, single-use plastic reduction will become more widespread and help to make stores realise it is important to people.”

After originally opening in February 2001, the Green Parrot has sold local produce food as well as expanding the business to body care, sports nutrition and household products.

All of the products are organic.

A clinic was also opened in 2002 for a range of therapies.

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