Zero Exmouth - the plastic-free eco supermarket, open for business during lockdown

  Posted: 20.01.21 at 17:15 by Philippa Davies

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Saving money, supporting the local economy and benefiting the environment all at the same time can’t be a bad thing – and despite the Covid-19 lockdown, it’s still possible to do that in Exmouth.

The eco-supermarket Zero Exmouth in Chapel Street is open for business as a supplier of essential products, offering deliveries and click-and-collect for a wide range of food, toiletries and household products.

The shop is plastic-free and committed to selling organic, sustainably produced, fairly traded food and other items. Even the fixtures and fittings are made from reclaimed, recycled materials.

Zero Exmouth opened in November last year, as the sister branch of the Zero Exeter shop, set up 20 months ago.

The shops are owned by Faye Jennings Mosquera and her Columbian husband Ernesto. The couple raised the necessary finance by producing and selling hammock chairs, made from a mixture of recycled materials and sustainable fibres.

Faye explained that their vision for the Zero shops came from their experience of living in Columbia, where they met.

Some of the food for sale at Zero Exmouth

She said: “In Colombia in most neighbourhoods everything is package-free still, to buy in bulk for affordability, and to reduce food waste.

“We used this method to create an open and inviting space - being welcoming and inclusive to all, we truly feel shopping plastic-free enables people to reduce waste, save money, eat organic and healthy foods for the same price as lower quality foods.

“My vision was to have a space created and designed with the environment at the soul of it - practice what you preach almost.

“It took longer, and subsequently that costs more, but that’s why we did the bulk of the work ourselves, working 15-hour days to complete it. The shelving units, back wall area and signage were built by Rich Brown, a local industrial designer who's a huge enthusiast of reclaimed materials.

“It feels like such a privilege to see it appreciated, showing what we could create from junk.”

A wide range of products on display in the shop

What does Zero Exmouth sell?

Zero Exmouth sells basic foodstuffs including cereals, pasta, tea, coffee, sugar, oils and sauces, baking ingredients, herbs and spices, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. It also stocks beauty and skincare products, soap and shampoo, and environment-friendly household cleaning products.

The whole operation is built around avoiding plastic packaging and reducing food waste – two things Faye is passionate about.

She said: “People in the UK throw away around 295 billion pieces of plastic every year, much of which is single-use and cannot be recycled.

“Much of our plastic is sent to developing countries, which is grossly unfair also - being thrown upon the poorest people in the world.

Toiletries and gifts are for sale as well as food and household items

“And on top of this we have over eight million tons of food waste rotting in landfill from the UK (wasting over £22million by consumers).

“If more zero waste stores are supported, this number will dramatically decrease, saving the environment, environmental resources, and your wallet, plus the health benefits to eating organic foods is incredible, especially when you can purchase the quantity you need and you save money upon every trip.

“When you shop local it’s estimated that over 40 per cent of money that is spent locally stays locally, plus supporting local employment, local artisans, and local economic growth.”

The shop needs local support

The Zero company has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Faye said: “Every lockdown has been incredibly tricky as an independent business - in the last two lockdowns we weren’t entitled to any financial help as we are in the same category as supermarkets.

Faye at work preparing the shop for opening

“But we have lost over 80 per cent of our passing trade. We aren’t multi-millionaire supermarkets filled with plastic either for a profit - we are a self-funded eco supermarket.

“Supermarkets sell everything pre-packaged to make an instant profit - zero waste stores allow you to buy food starting from 1p so it’s been difficult to keep sustainable without all our regulars.

“Ernesto also works full-time in his day job and we have two kids at home schooling, so that’s added extra pressure.”

Faye and Ernesto are appealing to the people of Exmouth to support them now, using the shop’s delivery and click-and-collect service. They think many local residents, who are not going into town during lockdown, don’t realise the shop is still open for business and supplying so many essential foods and other household items.

Doing something positive during a challenging time

Ernesto working on the shop's exterior

And, at a time when most people are finding things difficult, Faye thinks making positive, environment-friendly changes to your lifestyle can give a much-needed boost to the spirits.

She said: “Zero waste is not about being perfect on a super clean Instagram, it’s not about shaming, it’s about living a more sustainable lifestyle and that’s about it.

“You can start little by little, taking a reusable drinking bottle or a coffee cup. Instead of a new kitchen, paint your old one.Mend your clothing - donate your clothing to those who need it more.

“You can still eat takeaways if you want, you still won’t be 100 per cent plastic free regardless of how hard you try, but just being conscious of your power to pick is a huge start and will reduce your plastic consumption dramatically and almost instantly.

“It adds a positive natural change into your days also which I love, your diet is cleaner and you feel better whilst still eating incredible foods, supporting local stores and economic growth and keeping plastic out of the oceans.”

Ernesto outside the shop

For more information on the shop's products and deliveries, visit My Zero Lifestyle

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