“It all started back at the beginning of last year, when I decided that 2019 was the time for me to start exploring what really mattered to me! I joined a social networking group, yoga classes, volunteered at a local festival, and organised a working road trip with my son. It was time to change my world! Then in May, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and that rather put the brakes on things in the short term. I was fantastically lucky as it was caught early, and after a successful mastectomy and bionic boob installation, I had even more impetus to do something tangible, to change the world; not just talk about it, not just think about it – but actually do something.
Plastic waste and over packaging has always really maddened me. During my recovery I spent time thinking about what Little Old Me could do to change things for the better. At home we’ve bought refills of various products for a while, but we always had to travel to Heathfield or Tunbridge Wells; there was nothing available in Crowborough and I felt that we really needed a refill option for household products here. You have to be dedicated and focused to travel out of town to buy everyday items responsibly. I’m convinced that if an environmentally conscious option is easily accessible then more of us will choose it. We’re all so busy juggling our commitments that it’s easy to lose sight of the biggest picture of all….. our environment. If a town can conveniently access plastic free products it will mean that thousands of plastic bottles can be avoided every year, and be completely taken out of the production loop. Think about that; one town with some people within it making a change to their purchasing habits saves thousands of plastic bottles being made and disposed of. Now multiply that across all of the towns that have zero waste options, and that’s an amazing reduction!
I started looking at creating a refill shop combined with an eco community hub for recycling, maybe workshops and a “library of things”, which was my ultimate dream, but after looking at rents etc I quickly realised that wouldn’t be sustainable, at all. So, I decided that the only way I was going to be able to do it was to be mobile; and my car was almost suitable. Then I realised that being mobile would actually be a huge advantage, rather than being a compromise, as there are so many towns and villages which don’t yet have their own plastic free options, so I can go to them and provide this convenient service.
One of the most important things to me when I was researching my suppliers, was to find a genuine single use plastic free supplier. Many of the eco refill products available are supplied to their stockists in 5 litre containers which then have to go into the recycling for disposal. To me, that isn’t really helping to reduce plastic as much as it could. I was delighted when I found SESI who have a completely closed loop system and re-use all of the containers from manufacture to delivery to me. Aside from the household detergents which SESI make, they have also teamed up with Cole & Co, who are based in Wales and hand make the most wonderful showering products. When I receive a delivery they collect the empties, wash them, refill and send them back out to the next stockist.
Once I’d got the products sorted out, we created a superdooper contraption that pulls out of the back of my car, which gave me my “shop”, and I was ready to rock and roll. I then just needed to find somewhere that would host me and my WeFill Local pop-up. That was a bit of a challenge, but Crowborough Community Centre came up trumps and were fully on board with the idea, which was great! They are very eco conscious themselves, so they were really happy for me to pop-up by their front door every other Tuesday evening.
I only managed to get two pop-ups in before lockdown was upon us, so for a while I was only offering deliveries locally, but now I’m back at Crowborough Community Centre fortnightly, and doing monthly deliveries further afield. I’ve also got a monthly pop-up behind Monkey Puzzle Nursery in Edenbridge and another at the wonderful Falconhurst Farm Shop in Markbeech. I’d like more places to pop-up; more villages and towns that don’t have their own permanent shop, that would like me and my plastic free products to visit once a month.
The customers and hosts that I’ve met through WeFill are totally super and I’m loving every minute of my moonlighting, eco, teeny business.”
WeFill Local is a mobile refill service supplying unpackaged household products to customers, groups and businesses in Crowborough and the surrounding area. Fortnightly pop-ups on a Tuesday evening at Crowborough Community Centre 6 – 8pm.