Sustainability Hero of the Month: Bovey Larder

Posted by
Food Drink Devon
Posted on
1 Sep 2021

Food Drink Devon’s ‘Sustainability Hero of the month’ is Bovey Larder!

We asked owners, Corin and Rebecca Burton, how they put sustainability at the core of their retail business…

About Bovey Larder

We are Corin and Rebecca Burton, the owners of Bovey Larder, Bovey Tracey’s very own zero-waste shop. We opened in November 2020 and stock a wide selection of pantry staples, such as cereal, flour, pasta, rice, non-dairy milk, etc., in addition to non-food goods for household cleaning and toiletries. Products are stocked in bulk with the customer either filling paper bags or their own containers to purchase as much as they need. We also stock plastic free reusables and zero waste kits such as coffee cups, water bottles, razors, beeswax wraps, face masks, kitchen accessories and bathroom supplies.  We hope the shop also serves our community as a hub of products and information to help people live a low impact lifestyle. Our three guiding principles are:

Zero Waste: We want to help our customers avoid single use plastics and, by buying as much or as little as they need, to avoid food waste. We buy in bulk as much as possible to further reduce waste.

Community: We want to be inclusive and welcoming and to become an environmental community hub. We source products locally, where possible and suppliers are vetted for their ethical credentials.

Value: We price check our larder staple products against supermarkets and competitors and aim to make shopping at Bovey Larder affordable for everyone.

We passionately believe we cannot continue to live in a world which we abuse and pollute recklessly. We believe that lifestyle and shopping habits need to change so that we can secure a good, sustainable future. Consumerism has led us to believe that quick, plastic, one-use products are what we need, and this is destroying the environment. Single use plastic packaging, even when recyclable still pollutes. We believe in 6 ‘R’s – Refuse, Reuse, Recycle, Reduce, Repair and Rot. By offering customers pantry staples that can be bought in the quantities they desire, we prevent food waste, remove single use packaging and reducing plastic waste, we can take small steps to make big changes.  We want a shop that can be used by all of the community, bulk buying needs to be promoted to all not just the privileged few.

We are also extremely enthusiastic about running and developing a business in Bovey Tracey, our hometown. It is important to be involved and support both shops and communities in small towns. With the loss of local shops, we are not only losing independent stores to big multi brands, but we are also losing interactions within the community. Consequently, communities are damaged and money leaks out of local communities and to corporate shareholders. We have a chronic epidemic of loneliness in today’s society and being recognised and speaking to people in a local town can mean a huge difference to people’s lives. Bovey Tracey has a diverse high street where shopping and eating in the local shops, cafes and pubs is not just about purchasing products or services, it is about face-to-face communication, friendliness and interest in the people within a community.

Corin has worked in business for nearly 25 years and Rebecca is a qualified Vegan Natural Chef.

What have you done to make your business more environmentally friendly?

With rampant greenwashing from big business and inertia from central governments, we need another way to drive dramatic change. Big changes will come, not from a small number of people doing a lot, but from millions or billions of people doing something. We believe one way to do that is to make zero-waste shopping available to the masses.

We opened our business in November 2020 and are supporting our customers to live a low impact lifestyle by avoiding single use plastics and by enabling them to avoid food waste by allowing them to buy as much or as little as they need. We buy in bulk as much as possible to further reduce waste. With our ‘Zero Waste Shopping for Every Day Living’ mantra, we also aim to be inclusive to allow as many people as possible to shop affordably and sustainably.

What would you like to change in the future to improve your sustainability credentials further?

We are all in this together. Our mantra stretches to our entire business community:

–        Buying from local suppliers saves distribution costs and supports local businesses. Many of the home cleaning products we sell are made within three miles and sold as concentrate to be diluted at home. Since opening, we have added goods from multiple additional local suppliers, including beeswax wraps, re-usable face masks and gaiters, soap and shampoo bars and our new range of coffees.

–        We have developed a very strong relationship with our town’s council’s, climate emergency and plastic free groups and continue to work closely with them to encourage local shopping and also to promote sustainable and plastic free shopping.

–        Our sustainable advocacy stretches to the way we engage with our suppliers. Since opening, we have used ecotricity for our energy supply. As we grow, we expect to order from suppliers in larger quantities and larger quantities commonly mean less packaging and also that the packaging is far less likely to use plastic.

–        We will continue to press our suppliers on their use of plastics, for example continuing a dialogue with our laundry and toiletry liquids supplier about their and their couriers’ use of plastic wrapping for pallets – they already supply reusable cargo nets to wrap the pallets of empty jerry cans when we return them for refilling.

–        Considering the products we sell, we are expecting to continue to expand the range of products we offer to customers, enabling them to do more of their shopping locally and sustainably. We are in the process of adding some baby products and would like to extend the range and also include sustainable feminine sanitary products in the near future.

What tips do you have for other businesses that would like to become more sustainable?

It’s important to feel supported on the journey, whether starting a new sustainable business or making change to be more sustainable. Research is very important. The information, not only about how to make changes, but also about what changes you can or should make, is now much more easily available online. There are also many support groups and communities available, populated with like-minded business owners, who are always happy to answer questions and offer experience and advice. People are always innovating and just because something isn’t available today, doesn’t mean it won’t be tomorrow. Build relationships and partnerships.

Remember other people are on a similar journey. Have patience with your suppliers, perhaps more than you want to. Often the sustainable option is newer and may be provided by a new business that is still learning or ironing out growing pains, but they will learn and will support you.

Ours has been a fantastic journey so far – long may it continue. Good luck with yours and we hope you feel free to get in touch.

Corin and Rebecca, owners of Bovey Larder

Find us on Facebook @BoveyLarder41

Find out more about Bovey Larder here.

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