The zero-wasters of London

3 Mins read

We meet some new business owners who are breaking down the stigmas of zero-waste living.

Signing the lease to your new shop 13 days before a pandemic is no mean feat – especially when you’re in a radical and somewhat new industry that changes the way people look at their lifestyles. 

Jordan Perata, founder and owner of the Kilo zero-waste shop in Holloway, did just this: and to this day, the business is thriving and growing as London becomes more switched on to sustainable ways of living. 

Pasta, grains, pulses, cleaning supplies and condiments are just a handful of the household items you can buy at the shop, and all are contained in dispensers that you can fill your jar with, weigh, and take home. 

Kilo is not the only shop to do this, with 16 zero-waste shops around London according to kempii. However, because of the unique time that the shop opened and the area, Kilo is changing the way Londoners look at a sustainable lifestyle.

“I expected [the demographic] to be zero-wasters,” Jordan explains. “It’s actually not the case at all. I think because it’s a very diverse area; there’s a lot of young families and people who are lower income who can shop with us and not have to commit to a whole kilo of rice if they don’t want to.”

With the pandemic came floods of people visiting their local supermarkets to get their weekly shop. This crowding encouraged people to go into other businesses just down the road, which, for many, happened to be Kilo.

The unique combination of Holloway’s community and the effects of the pandemic opened up so many people to a lifestyle they might never have thought possible. 

Spudos being packaged, along with introduction pamphlet for new customers.
Spudos crisps packaged, along with an introduction pamphlet for new customers [Hannah Barrett]

Around this time, Jordan also encouraged her father to start a zero-waste crisp company, Spudos. After noticing a gap in the market, founder Del started to sell crisps in refillable tubs, as well as a range of ‘spud dusts’, flavours to add to the crisps in compostable ‘shake bags’. 

As Del came from a technical background, the business had to start with some external help. “I hired a crisp consultant – yes, they do exist,” he explained. After sorting the suppliers, nutrition, health and safety, he could get to the fun part, and so Spudos was born.

“It’s been phenomenal,” he remarks when talking about the reception for Spudos. “We’re a small company so don’t have the cash for big marketing, so spreading the word has been by people picking up on our [social media] posts.”

Spudos are now sold in pubs, taken to offices and shown off by influencers. They are also sold online and in zero-waste shops, just like Kilo.

As well as artisanal products such as this, Jordan’s shop sells many basics, like dried goods and meat alternatives. It is a common preconception that living a zero-waste lifestyle is costly, and only people who are making a pretty good amount of money can afford to live in such a way. 

This is a misconception that Kilo is slowly trying to show to the public. Goods like herbs and spices are much cheaper in their shop than buying a whole new container of them at a supermarket. 

Jordan, founder of Kilo in Holloway.
Jordan Perata, founder of Kilo in Holloway [Kilo/Mark Lukas]

There is also a stigma around zero waste shops, in that they are intimidating and uninviting to people who might not know how to use them. Jordan is a big advocate of how we shouldn’t have to ‘beautify’ the lifestyle for it to be accepted. 

“I got rid of all the plastic in my house and got beautiful jars and glass bottles for my cleaning products. Now I realise that’s the worst thing you can do,” she said. Instead, reusing containers you already own is the simple solution to starting in the zero-waste world. 

“Something like washing up liquid is a really easy place to start because we all have a bottle of Fairy, and when it runs out instead of throwing the bottle away, just refill it. Starting with one thing that already has a container is the best way to go.”

Planet Minimal is Kilo’s supplier of cleaning supplies, which are transported in reusable barrels and containers from their warehouse in Leyton. Hamish, the company’s founder, wanted to combine his experience in electric vehicles with reducing plastic waste in shops, so the company was created in 2019.

The products go straight from the back of the Planet Minimal van into zero-waste shops and other businesses. Now with more than 50 customers, they can stock multiple places in London whilst having a minimal impact on the environment. 

So from inception to current times, Kilo and its suppliers have been a remarkable example of how zero-waste businesses can come to be in London, as well as breaking down various stereotypes and encouraging people from all walks of life to partake in a new, sustainable way of shopping. 

If you are interested in finding a zero-waste shop near you, visit Kilo in Holloway or any other 16 shops around London. The first visit will always be the most confusing one, but as Jordan, Del and Hamish have shown, it is a lifestyle that can be easily adopted.

Featured image by Kilo/Mark Lukas.

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