A Zero Waste Store has just opened in the new Burlington Food Hall in Chislehurst High Street. This followed the closure of the Workshop, a DIY and gardening shop, that had been a Chislehurst fixture for many years.

The concept for the store is highly unique as it was setup in response to a local survey conducted by Adrian Lawrence of Hunters Estate Agents in Chislehurst where the community had a say in what type of independent business they would like to see run from the vacant premises. A Zero Waste shop that supported a more sustainable lifestyle with local and organic products received overwhelming support and it is now one of the first shops of its kind in the Borough of Bromley.

It provides a range of foods including cereals, dry pastas, rice, spices, herbs, nuts, seeds, oils and vinegars. The ‘zero waste’ element is the fact that the food is dispensed from large wall mounted containers, straight into the customers own container or eco-friendly paper bags sold for free by the shop, and the oils straight into their own bottle, so everything that is purchased is plastic and package free.

In addition, there is a freezer with a range of plant-based products and vegan ice creams and a newly launched peanut butter making machine, which produces 100 per cent pure peanut butter with no palm oils.

Adrian Lawrence said, “Our Wenutbutter machine turns peanuts into delicious 100% natural peanut butter with no additives or palm oil, being high in protein is not only a family favourite but used by runners and athletes for energy. You can bring back your glass jar time and time again, thus saving waste and helping to reduce landfill”.

The move towards plastic free, zero waste shopping has been growing rapidly over the last few years as shoppers are becoming increasingly mindful of the impact that their choices have on the environment. For instance, the move to ban plastic straws in stores came after photos on social media were posted by the likes of PETA showing turtles choking on plastic straws.

This trend is not limited to small local businesses. Popular supermarket chains such as Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer are also trialling zero waste sections of their stores, with packaging-free refill stations. Marks and Spencer are even committed to being a zero-waste business by 2025.

Zero waste stores also signal the resurgence of independent shops on the high-street, especially with the community feel experienced inside them. This close customer-shop keeper interaction has become increasingly important during both the COVID-19 lockdowns where shoppers are increasingly keen to shop locally rather than driving to large shopping malls or supermarkets.

Within Burlington Food Hall, there is also a butcher called Block & Cleaver that sources their meat directly from various farms throughout the UK, Larkin’s the greengrocer and Marlborough Bakery that has been serving the local community in Mottingham for many years.

These new businesses signal a return to what the High Street used to look like many years ago prior to Sainsbury’s opening in the early 1980’s. Reinforcing this historic connection is the naming of the Food Hall after the actual building that it operates within, namely the Burlington Parade, that was built around 1890. The Burlington Food Hall is a wonderful example of a business reflecting Chislehurst’s past, but also a beacon for the future of sustainable consumer shopping.