In our latest Business Blog we went in and chatted to Shani and Amanda, owners of Bamboo Turtle, to find out more about Letchworth's plastic-free store.
For those who perhaps haven’t visited you yet, can you introduce Bamboo Turtle and what you offer?
Shani - We’re a zero waste, plastic free store offering a wide selection of food and non-food items for people to buy and take away in their own containers.
We also help reduce food waste, because we sell our products by weight, so you can buy exactly the amount you need.
When did you decide you were going to open a plastic free shop?
Amanda - We were actually having afternoon tea in Liverpool when we finally said “let’s do it”. We had the idea about six months ago, but it’s something we’ve been mulling over for a lot longer than that.
From that point it was about six months of planning, researching and sourcing products, locating a place to set-up shop, until we finally opened in March this year.
Where did/does you passion for plastic-free and environmentally sustainable shopping come from?
Amanda – For me it’s been a natural progression really. I recently went vegan and it’s the mindfulness and awareness of where there is excessive waste that spurred me to do something about it.
Shani – As we’ve mentioned, we’ve had this idea for a while, but with a greater media focus on the environment and the way Blue Planet 2 captured people’s attention, it seemed a perfect time to use our passion to help others reduce their plastic footprint.
What made you set up shop in Letchworth & what’s the reaction been like?
Amanda – It just seemed a good fit. We were aware of Letchworth being the world’s first Garden City and how it was founded as an experiment to be a self-sustaining place.
We’ve only recently become more aware of some of the early residents and the links to vegetarianism and veganism, long before it became socially acceptable.
Away from that, it’s a lovely place and it has such a vibrant community feel. It’s got so many community groups that I can’t keep track of them all yet.
Since we’ve opened that feedback and reaction has been really positive. People feel proud that Letchworth has this kind of store and feel like they’re buying in to the beginning of the trend.
What’s been the most popular product since you opened?
Amanda – Definitely the bamboo toothbrushes and bamboo straws.
Do you think people are more on-board and engaged with plastic/waste-free products and shopping than in the past?
Shani – I’d say so. Alongside the increased media coverage around sustainability I think people are more comfortable with planning their shop and increasingly only want to buy what they need.
Amanda – I’d agree. There’s a greater awareness to the benefits of waste-free products, both to the environment and to consumers.
What are the top tips you have to help people use less plastic/waste?
- Think before you buy
- Be mindful of what you need over what you want
- Buying things in plastic is fine, but try to re-use it. Containers, bottles, tubs and pots have practical uses even after their original contents are gone!
You’re part of the water refill scheme in Letchworth, can you tell people more about that?
Shani – it’s an app and initiative to try to help curb the production and waste of plastic bottles. People can come in to our shop (and other places in Letchworth) and we will refill their water bottle for them. You can find out more at https://www.refill.org.uk/.
Bamboo Turtle can be found in unit 5 in the Arcade, Letchworth Garden City.
Open from 10am – 4pm Monday to Saturday. Closed Sundays.