Brighton's Best Plastic Free Shops

Over the past few years it has been impossible to ignore the horrible images shown to us from around the world. Dying whales, trapped birds, garbage mountains of the Pacific Ocean. We do not need to look much further than streets of our own cities to recognise that the problem is in our own backyard -- waste. More specifically, plastic waste.

What was previously seen as harmless eye-sores, are now seen as a threat to our whole existence and our ecosystem. This problem cannot be ignored anymore, and luckily it is not.

However, modern life does not give many options for plastic-free life. It is almost impossible to go to your regular supermarket and have a plastic-free shop, let alone completely waste-free.

Luckily, Brighton is living up to its reputation as a hippie town. The amount of alternative, low-waste shops are plentiful for a town of this size.

Ranging from trendy to country feel, and from obvious to less obvious, I have visited and tested some of Brighton and Hove’s finest plastic and waste free shops. 

Here’s a handy list of the best sides of each of these lovely independent shops.

1. Harriet’s of Hove

The newest edition to the list of plastic-free shops is Blatchington Road’s Harriet’s of Hove. Run by the lovely couple, Harriet’s has a great business plan and a welcoming feel. Not only do they offer waste-free staples, they also keep their prices at check -- just recently, they lowered the price of washing up liquid, laundry liquid and body washes. The reason? Because they can! 

They enjoy keeping their customers informed of their purchase choices, and ask for the customer’s opinions on new orders. So in this independent shop, you can really have your voice heard. And a little tip: Harriet’s of Hove has teamed up with VeegCard app, and they offer 10% off the total bill if you show your VeegCard. (This is now an advertisement but a great deal!)

Harriet’s also does refills in kombucha and beer, which are not found anywhere else.

2. Wastenot

Situated in Brighton’s Open Market, Debbie of Waste Not shop is an independent business owner, who is tightly in contact with the surrounding community. The best thing about Waste Not is that it offers all the staples necessary with some extra, but it also works close together with other businesses in the market. 

The food market next to it offers very cheap deals for vegetables (I once got a crate of avocado for three quid. Yes please!), Smorl’s falafel place lets you buy yummy hummus in bulk, and if you are there on a Thursday, the volunteer run Green Centre lets you recycle a lot of things that the council will not touch. Go to their website to check the full list that includes aluminium, cigarette butts, crisp packages and more!

Waste Not also has a small collections of re-used containers you can take home free-of-charge. That, together with everything else that the Open Market has to offer, make this place one of the best spots to shop zero-waste in Brighton.

3. All those over looked corner shops and off-licences.

There are plenty of trendy places where to buy loose veg, but regular little corner shops around town are often overlooked. Even though not completely zero-waste in all aspects, the amount of vegetables without plastic-packaging is often astounding.

The biggest of course is Taj of Western Road, which might not fall into the category of zero-waste, but the price and quality of their vegetables is as good as any. The smaller shops around town should not be overlooked either, since most of my plastic waste at least comes from food and vegetable packaging.

Shopping in these places, you get to support small business owners, sometimes haggle on the price, and might pick up some fruit or a vegetable you have not tried before. These little shops are everywhere -- no need to cycle to the other end of town. Plus, the large variety of fruit and veg will make anyone happy.

4. Hisbe

A Brighton staple. If it is not in Hisbe, you do not need it. Although a bit more expensive, Hisbe has everything you need. Their system makes you put a plastic sticker on your loose vegetable purchases, but if it is not too busy and you ask nicely, they will work their way around that. Not completely plastic and waste free, but really working hard for years now.

The staff are always helpful, and the location is great; this is what all supermarkets should thrive to be. Going to Hisbe will fill you with joy -- just seeing what could be if all bigger shops would follow suit.

5. Down To Earth

Another special place in Hove. Situated in Portland Road, Down to Earth specialises more in organic and natural food and skincare, but it is especially good for re-filling your most important needs. Ranging from shampoos to floor cleaner, Down To Earth has everything for Hove dwellers who will find the other side of town too far away for these refills.

It is becoming increasingly easy to live a zero-waste and plastic-free life in Brighton and Hove. We need to support these local, independent businesses in order to keep them running and offering us more wonderful products. 

Living more waste-free and using less plastic is no easy task. We have grown up with the convenience of plastic packaging, and it is one of the most difficult products to avoid. 

We do not need to go completely waste-free straight away -- if each of us starts doing our best, the impact will be huge. Zero-waste does not happen overnight, and that is fine. Being more conscious of our decisions and consumption habits and making small adjustments will already make a difference.

By Saara-Maria Salonen