Independent Focus: We meet NADA – Leicester’s first zero waste store to open this summer

nada zero waste leicester

The reduction of plastic is a hot talking point at the moment with many bars, cafes and restaurants across Leicester removing all plastic straws and pledging to cut down on their use. Now, one Leicester lady, Lauren Welch, is taking Leicester’s plastic reduction to the next level by opening up NADA, Leicester’s zero plastic and zero waste shop. The brilliant new opening will be launching in July in St Martin’s Square and we caught up with the owner, Lauren, to find out more.

How did you first come up with the idea for NADA and how long in the pipeline? 
It was back in February this year. I was inspired after watching the Blue Planet documentary on the BBC, I think that affected everyone that watched it. I was searching the internet for ways to be more plastic free and eliminate single use plastics from mine and my family’s lives. I started to research it and one popular suggestion from many Europeans and Americans was ‘bulk bins’. Buying in this way eliminates the use of single use plastics as you take your own container, it also saves on food waste as you only have to purchase what you want to use and not be left with a bag of black rice, for example, that you may never use again, left languishing in the back of your cupboard (thanks Jamie Oliver, but I never made that breakfast!) This idea sounded great but access to that way of shopping near me was non existent. So, I decided to open my own! The name NADA is a slang word for ‘nothing’ – which seemed appropriate!

nada zero waste

What products will you be selling and where will I be sourcing them from.
We’ll be selling various dry goods: cereal, muesli, granola, grains and pulses, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, dried fruit and snacks, herbs and spices and vinegars and oils. There’ll be household products such as washing powder, floor cleaner, laundry liquid and a range of shampoos, conditioners and body/hand wash. Plus a range of soaps that are made in Leicester too! 

As well as food and household stuff, we’ll also be selling reusables to help avoid other single use plastics such as bags, jars, straws, cups and water bottles to name a few. You’ll have to visit the store to see the full range! 

I have a number of stockists that I’ll be purchasing in bulk from and I’ve sourced a range a soaps that are made right here in Leicester. We’ll also have the most yummy range of chocolate covered fruit and nuts from the raw chocolate company. Who, I may add are an absolute delight to deal with! 

This idea is a new concept in Leicester but has it been successful in other areas?
This does seem like a new concept doesn’t it, but in fact it isn’t. It’s how everyone used to shop before the supermarkets took over and filled our homes with plastic. People would do their shopping for what they needed when they needed and only bought what was necessary. This wasn’t that long ago either! 

Plastic free shops are popping up all over the place! The first one in the uk opened in Devon last year – ‘eat, food, love’ and has been a massive success and has kind of become a blueprint for others. There’s now about 5 in London and nearer to home, 2 in Birmingham and plans for one in Notts. I started my Instagram as a way to get ideas as well as followers and have been blown away with all the support. Naturally I anticipated it’d appeal to socially conscious young people, but it’s transcending that – which is brilliant,  as it’s not a hipster, zeitgeist movement; its essential and a means to maintaining a future for us and the planet. 

What are you main hopes for the store this year?
My plan is to open in the summer (and still be trading at Christmas). It’s a different way of shopping and I’m confident the people of Leicester are ready for it. I’ve had a lot of interest and people saying that they would love to shop in this way, I just hope they don’t revert back to supermarkets and what they’re used to.

You’re currently crowdfunding – how can people get involved?
Follow this link and check out the rewards. I’d be so grateful for any support. SUPPORT – https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/zerowaste-leicester/

Leicester has such a fantastic independent community, who are some of your other favourite independent retailers in Leicester?
First off it has to be Harriman and co. I just adore that shop. If I could move in, I would! My hairdresser of 15 years, can now be found in Flappers and Gentleman, so I couldn’t not mention them.  Bread and honey on King street, I made my husband bring me their Bacon and Brie sandwich the morning after giving birth as I’d missed it for 9 months! He did, but they’d sold out and so they made one from scratch. Also, Grounded kitchen on Queens Road is fantastic and so pleased to see it moving into town too. I love Pink Pigeon Vintage and can’t not mention the new addition to Leicester, Doughnotts.

Have you had a lot of support from the local community so far?
Not yet, as I haven’t asked anything of them. I’d been keeping quiet as have been working hard on getting the right location and stock. I’m almost ready to open now and so am now putting myself out there. If people want to support then they can pledge or, even better, come in and shop and see what’s its all about. 

When and where will you be opening?
We’re hoping to be open for July as it’s plastic free month. Also happy to confirm that we’ll be opening in the sublime St Martins square opposite St Martins Coffee/Crafty. 

nada zero waste leicester

The idea of plastic reduction has been very prevalent across bars in Leicester (removing straws etc) so far in 2018 – what do you hope the next steps will be?
Shopping plastic free at NADA of course! 

Plastic is a valuable commodity, but there’s really no need for single use so I’d hope it’d be banned entirely. The planet is fragile and in a bad way and anything we do now is damage limitation. In order to have a future at all we need to act now and take some responsibility. That, like so much, starts at home and if we can be more conscientious by simply changing how we shop then I see no reason not to. We know we can’t change the world, but we want people to have the option. In fact, the tag line from the shop has always been ‘make tiny changes to Earth’ which people may recognise this as a Frightened Rabbit lyric. We are of course devastated about the tragic news of Scott Hutchinson, but feel this statement has real resonance to what we’re trying to do.

Lauren Welch, pictured above with her family, hopes to help improve hers and other families’ futures through the much needed reduction of plastic in society.

How can people find out more?

Instagram: zerowasteleicester

Facebook: zerowasteleicester

Website: www.zerowasteleicester.co.uk

Get in touch and email us: [email protected]