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Founder and owner of zero-waste shop ‘The Store’, Rosanna Heasman knows a thing or two about not only living a sustainable lifestyle but also running a successful and profitable business that does not compromise on ethics.

Inspired by a keen interest in business and economics but also a desire to shun the consumer culture, Rosanna made the brave move to launch her own shop a year ago. At first she struggled to persuade the bank to agree to a start-up loan as they were cautious about the location of the shop and wanted Rosanna to concentrate on more affluent areas.

However she campaigned that there is a bigger opportunity to convince people to make changes who haven’t already explored those choices rather than people who may have already subscribed to that way of life in more affluent areas. She stuck to her belief that “sustainability should be available to everyone” and The Store in Bedford was born.

Any stigma about ethically-sourced products being more expensive can be quickly dismissed. A quick comparison between Tesco and The Store shows that household staples such as porridge oats, walnuts, self-raising flour and brown basmati rice, all come out cheaper when buying away from a supermarket. The most stark example of this is buying 20 x 27g sachets of Quaker Oats for ‘convenience’ costs £4.00 for 540g versus £2 for 1kg at The Store. Not only does the cheaper one have no packaging but arguably a 20g portion of porridge is not enough to sustain someone for a nutritious breakfast. Buying loose products means that you can choose the quantity and by reusing your old packaging such as jars, bags or plastic containers, you aren’t contributing to more waste. Although there are other items which are more expensive due to more costly but ethical manufacturing or production methods, being more conscious in consumption – the act of buying less but of better quality should balance out the financial implications for most customers. 

Now established, Rosanna explains that one of the biggest challenges is sourcing ethical products for The Store, “every decision I make needs to be thoroughly researched to ensure that the whole production, distribution and delivery process is ethical, it can be exhausting.” There are people who do try to find holes in the methodology, and whilst challenge is welcomed, it can be time-consuming explaining the bigger picture or reasoning behind decisions. For example, the choice between having fresh produce being organic with higher carbon footprint, or local produce with a lower footprint and supporting local farmers. Both have merit but with balance, comes compromise.

Rosanna makes no apologies for rejecting some product lines due to them not allowing packaging to be returned or a change in their processes and principles. But she does encourage people to challenge suppliers and manufacturers as they can provoke change, “it sometimes only takes one person to make a change,” she states.

In our own homes, Rosanna suggests we all look at how we can make the biggest change by looking at small but frequent uses. “Usually the biggest impact can be made when you start looking at the waste you produce in your bathroom and kitchen.” She goes on to list the items that regularly get disposed of but where there are alternatives that wont end up in landfill such as tampons, razors, toothbrushes, sponges and bottles. All of these can be sourced in a more environmentally friendly or alternative way but with the same hygienic or practical results. There are now even places that will act as drop-off points for you to recycle electric toothbrush heads. And it goes without saying that everyone should carry a reusable water bottle and a reusable cup.

Making changes towards a more sustainable lifestyle is achievable for all, one step at a time with every decision making a difference for our environment. Rosanna is leading the way for adapting to a zero-waste lifestyle and encourages everyone to look for their own local solutions “if there aren’t organisations and companies out there that support your desire to be more sustainable, be a force to make change happen yourself.”

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Sarah Canning

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