Posted on 25 Comments

We’re changing what we do

Dear customers and supporters of Plastic Free Pantry,

We’ve decided to embark on a change of direction.

It’s been 2 years since the walk on the beach that kick started Plastic Free Pantry. Back then there were few places to buy food without plastic packaging and so I decided to start an online shop. If we had this problem, I thought, others must too. And you really did! Just 2 weeks after launching I was surrounded by boxes in my living room and crying to my husband about how I felt like I’d never get all these orders out and I was going to let everybody down. Shortly afterwards I moved the business out of the living room in to a small rented space. I slowly started to increase the range and I became we as the team became 2, then 3. Then we needed a bigger space as we were tripping over each other and the sacks of produce, so we moved here to our bright space just a short walk from my home, and the team grew to 5. We’ve gone from 13 products to over 200.

However things have changed significantly since we first started out. There are now zero waste shops popping up all over the country. I’m not interested in competing with them; buying locally and with your own packaging is absolutely the best way to go if you’re able to do that. I’d rather support them in finding plastic-free goods.

Project pasta changed things for us.

We stopped selling pasta a few months ago because the best we could find was 5kg catering packs in plastic packaging. We tried and could not find an alternative. Well we briefly did but they couldn’t supply enough to meet our needs. Cutting out our biggest seller was a huge risk for us, and we took a significant financial hit. 

When we ordered our machine and embarked on this wild idea of making our own pasta, we were again just trying to solve our own problem. But we found that lots of people have this problem.

So, we’ve decided to refocus our priorities on making our own goods rather than buying in bulk and repacking. We want to create products which are designed to be plastic-free and low impact from the very beginning. This is how we started out with our coffee roastery Roasting House, and so we’re returning to our producer roots.

Right now Plastic Free Pantry is incredibly resource heavy. Refocusing on creating our own products allows us to simplify. It will allow us to support other zero waste shops through creating truly plastic-free products that they are struggling to source rather than compete with them. Obviously we’ll start with coffee and pasta as we’re already doing them, but then…who knows?

It’s risky of course. I know that so many of you who shop with us regularly will be disappointed, and the reason that people shop with us is because of our wide range. But continuing to operate in that way isn’t really sustainable for us.

So, as products go out of stock we won’t be replacing them. Once we’ve finished our pasta pre-orders, we’ll start to produce for general sale and working with all of the amazing zero waste shops who’ve been incredibly excited about our pasta to help get it out in to the world. We’ll also be putting much more of our resources into our coffee roastery which has been somewhat neglected since we started Plastic Free Pantry.

This is a big scary change, but it very much feels like the right one for us as a business and for me as a person. This may seem sudden, but for us it’s been a long time coming.

Thank you so much for your support so far in this journey.

Kimberley, 

Director of Plastic Free Pantry

Posted on 25 Comments

25 thoughts on “We’re changing what we do

  1. This is great news for us at The Bottle Top, we want to expand out low waste offering but struggle to keep up financially and struggle to find truly plastic free and low waste products close to home and competitive price wise so we cant wait to see what comes from this. Good luck with everything and keep us informed of how you do. Here to help in anyway we can too!

    lots of love
    The Bottle Top Notts

  2. Totally see where you’re coming from – and as much as I’ve been relying on getting some products from you, I realize that it’s really a deferring of responsibilities on my part, so I commend you for this step of sticking to your priorities. It’s the next logical step anyway; and as long as you still do the coffee I’m perfectly happy – you had me worried there for a minute! 😉

    1. This makes so much sense – good decision- I applaud you. May the zero waste movement continue its growth! I only wish we had a zero waste shop near us. Best of luck in your new venture

  3. I totally support your change and see where you are coming from. Bad for me as I don’t have any zero waste shops near me and I haven’t found any online that are open about their supply chain. So I will probably have to revert to plastic, after nearly a year if hardly any 😒.
    Good luck in your venture.

    1. If you can get enough people together for a buying group then that’s definitely worth doing. Suma is best in the north of the UK, Essential in the South West or Infinity in South East. Or I think Jolly Wholefoods in Thame now do online deliveries as do Ecotopia in Leeds

      1. And Unwrapped in Crookes, Sheffield, and Lembas in Heeley, Sheffield.[Lembas not plastic free but many products with less-plastic, and do do delivery.

    2. Hey Soo,

      A lot of us have the same issue. I think a platform called Loop from TerraCycle will be coming out soon hopefully. Right now there is Zero Waste Club, but most of their stuff is not in stock often.

  4. Wow, that was a bolt!
    Good luck out there, you’ll be missed.

    1. Thanks Gavin

  5. I was so enthused by Plastic Free Pantry that I mentioned you in our briefing at Good Gym. I said that you offer a discount for litter picking as one of our recent tasks was litter picking our local park. I’m glad you are still fighting the war in plastic and also really happy that you will be supporting local zero waste shops. (It turns out there are some great ones Nr me.) This website is brilliant for finding plastic free shops:
    http://www.useless.london
    I also found Local markets and Milk and More really reduced my plastic consumption.
    Keep going guys. Let’s take care of our planet and make the change happen.

    1. Thanks Clare 🙂

  6. I’m gutted as I’ve never managed to source gluten free oats from anyone else. Or the magical gluten free yeast extract without resorting to the dreaded amazon. But I totally understand the need to move your business in a direction you want to go in.
    I shall miss you.
    Good luck!

    1. If you use FB there’s a list of other shops that deliver UK wide on our page

  7. I’m going to be lost without you. You may THINK there are loads of shops, but that’s in London. In Liverpool there isn’t a single one. When you stop supplying goods, I will have no access to a plastic free way to stock my cupboards.
    Of course I hope only good things for you in your new venture, but you will understand if I continue to hope that you will someday soon return to doing what you’ve been doing…you reduced my single use plastic waste considerably.

    1. Hi Anahid. In Liverpool you have Windmill Wholefoods who have a scoop section provided by Refill. They are also working with Just Little Changes to offer a delivery service. Waste Not Want Not in Wirral also has a delivery service or you can visit their shop

  8. Hi, this is good news for you moving forwards.
    I have put some orders through for pasta, what will happen with these?

    With thanks

    1. All pasta orders are going out, our own produced pasta and coffee are our main focus going forward

  9. I fully understand why you are changing what you do and I wish you all the very best. However for me personally it’s bad news 🙁 I live out in the country and I don’t drive. Therefore online delivery is a lifesaver and you solved the plastic problem for me and enabled me to reduce my plastic consumption by about 80%. Even though there are a couple of zero waste outlets in Swansea (my nearest big town) they are difficult to access for me as they are still many miles away and not on a bus route. Good luck though!

    1. Hi Linda, Natural Weigh are based in Crickhowell and will deliver all over the UK

  10. As an independent business owner myself I very much appreciate doing what is right for you personally! You will be very missed, we have had very well stocked cupboards this year thanks to you! Do you know of any plastic free companies in the West Midlands area (near warwick)? Or others that are online for delivery to the midlands? Thanks so much for your hard work, it’s been a real pleasure! x

    1. I’m fairly sure there’s a shop opening soon in Leamington Spa. The nearest delivery services to you are probably Waste Not Want Not in Wirral who will deliver all over the UK, or Just Little Changes who work with Refill to deliver UK wide, based in Liverpool

  11. I do understand your need to focus on what is sustainable for your business, but for us personally, it is incredibly disappointing as we live in rural Wales and online delivery from yourselves was one of the very few options we had for plastic free food. I have spent this morning searching for zero waste online shops and although some do offer delivery, so far it is only within a small radius of their shop. I have checked the Zero Waste Club and I will keep searching for other options, but for the present we will be sadly returning to plastic packaging. Thank you for the service you have provided, whilst you may feel the market is becoming crowded, from our point of view you were unique! I do wish you all the very best with you new venture and I’m sure your pasta will be a great success. 🙂

    1. Hi Kathryn, Natural Weigh are based in Crickhowell and will deliver all over the UK

  12. I found your shop when trying to source nice leaf tea without plastic packaging and at an affordable price. I was so happy when I placed my first order and you sent me the best quality foods without plastic packaging. I have found that it is possible to buy plastic free food but it isn’t organic, and organic is important to me for health and environmental reasons. The foods I valued most were dried fruit, nuts, beans and pulses and tea. So I am really sad that you are stopping your wonderful shop and I will be totally lost again. I don’t live near a self-serve shop that offers organic food and cannot find many of the products you sold from other online stores… especially the tea! Its such a shame that it is not sustainable.

    Good luck with your new venture and thanks for the year of the best quality organic produce in paper packaging!

  13. Hi
    We’ve just opened Waste Nott in Sherwood and would love to talk with you about how we might collaborate. We certainly want to order your pasta etc.
    If you are interested, I’d be very happy to meet with you at your place.

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