Zero Waste Shopping: Alexander Stores

Zero Waste Shopping Alexander Stores Beckenham header image featuring title overlayed on image of shop shelves.

It was mine and Kaya’s anniversary recently and, being the adventurous zero waste shopping enthusiasts that we are, we treated ourselves to an outing:

We went and had some cake and a coffee/milkshake before visiting a new zero waste shop in Beckenham, South-East London!

Don’t you wish you could party like us…?🎉

Zero Waste Shopping in the Heat

It was day 2 of the ‘mini heatwave‘ in the UK and we decided to go out at lunchtime – after Matilda-Niamh’s nap. As we stepped out, the heat hit us like that blast you get when you open the oven to check on your roast veg! Temperatures were well over 30°C, but we were committed.

Once we found parking in Beckenham, and got through Matilda’s slooooow walk down the stairs, we went into a little place on the high-street. There, we had some delicious chocolate cake and I enjoyed a milkshake whilst Kaya had her latte. Yep, chocolate for lunch – we know how to celebrate!🍰☕

Next came our trip to Alexander Stores; a brand-new zero waste shopping location that Kaya had discovered through Facebook. (If you know anything about our journey to live more sustainably, you’ll know that Kaya has a gift for finding new eco things to explore!) We decided to go on foot, and though Google Maps almost led us to entirely the wrong location, it did enable us to chance upon a house that was selling plants, masks and painted stones in its front garden for charity – more on that later.

Zero waste shopping: Alexander stores shopfront with large green sign and 'welcome' written on the door.

Zero Waste Shopping in Style

Finally, we arrived at Alexander Stores, sweating from the blistering heat and with a slightly agitated toddler on our hands. We had to wait outside because of a 2-person rule to help with social distancing. When we did get inside, the staff were very welcoming.

It is a humble shop that manages to fit a lot of stuff into a small space without feeling remotely cramped. To our right, there were:

  • Soaps
  • Shampoo bars
  • Bamboo toothbrushes
  • An extensive range of herbs and spices
  • Oils
  • Other similar products

To our left was the assortment of nuts, seeds, pasta, rice and other foods as well as the all-important weighing machine.

There was a real sense of attention to detail.

The place felt very light and comfortable inside, with a sleek finish to the interior and everything laid out in a simple, intuitive way. We knew what we wanted, and we had the containers for it, so the first action was to weigh those containers. The machine was simple to use and produced labels to add to our tubs so that their weight could be deducted when they are filled with food.

Zero waste shopping - A wall full of dispensers containing a variety of nuts, seeds, pasta, rice, beans and other foods for refilling containers.

Once that was done, I carefully spooned some mixed herbs into our jar, used the scoop to put some demerara sugar into a tub and filled another container with cashews. Meanwhile, Kaya and Matilda chose a bar of soap and a new child’s toothbrush from the selection.

Everything worked as you would expect, but there was a real sense of attention to detail in the way customers take what they need.

Our Thoughts

Cleanliness is clearly very important, and everything is easy to find and simple to vend. And, of course, the staff were always on hand to help with anything we needed. The shopping experience there was very pleasant, even in the sweltering heat!

We will definitely be visiting Alexander Stores again and we recommend anyone who lives in/near South-East London to have a look. If you’re interested in zero waste shopping, this could be the local solution you’ve been waiting for! You could refill your cooking oils, cleaning liquids and shampoo/conditioner here, eliminating the need to keep buying new packaged items at your supermarket.

As the Alexander Stores website says, the “concept isn’t new, but it’s important.

Zero Waste Shopping with Eco Misfits

If you don’t know the Eco Misfits, we’d love to meet you and hear about your eco journey! We plan to make more visits to zero waste shopping locations and offer our thoughts on them. As we build up our experience, we’ll be able to offer greater insight into the advantages and disadvantages of shopping this way.

One thing that will, undoubtedly, come into some people’s minds is the cost. It is not the cheapest way to shop, but that’s only if you don’t put any value on reducing your waste footprint. We are not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but we are committed to eliminating unnecessary waste wherever we can.

On the way back, we stopped by that house that was selling plants and other things in its front garden. For a mere £5, we got ourselves a cute little money plant and an even cuter painted stone for Matilda. A lovely little discovery!

Zero waste shopping: a top-down view of a money plant and a small stone with some orange flowers painted on it.

Have you had any interesting zero waste shopping experiences worth mentioning? We’d love to hear what the options are like where you live. Hit us up in the comments or contact us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to let us know!

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