Manchester’s first zero-waste store set to Flourish as city chases green targets

Manchester is set to welcome its first zero-waste store just months after Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham launched the first ever city-wide plan to drive down the use of single-use plastics.

The pledge was announced at the Green Summit in March after the River Tame, which flows through Greater Manchester, was declared the worst polluted river in the world.

Flourish Foods will provide the city with an opportunity for people to buy groceries and household items without plastic packaging.

With their ethos, “Fill, Eat, Rinse, Repeat”, the store wants to encourage people to bring their own containers, reduce their plastic waste and help ensure that the city fulfils the Mayor’s goal in just two years’ time.

Nikki Steel-Bryan, the founder of Flourish Foods, said: “I’ve always been an advocate for reusing and recycling – I’ve been carrying a reusable coffee cup since 2001 – but it was really living in America for a while where you could shop quite easily in bulk that reminded me we can do more.”

The first ever zero-waste store in Britain was opened by ex-Manchester United player, Richard Eckersley and his wife, Nicola, in March 2017 in Totnes.

Like Nikki, the couple decided to “start a revolution” after they had been living in a building in central Manchester that did not own recycling bins. They were shocked by the amount of waste they accumulated as a family of two and wanted to make a conscious effort to become eco-friendly.

Richard said: “We decided to do it because we just felt there was a need for it in Manchester City Centre and we were infuriated about the amount of plastic packaging that we would accumulate.”

Earth. Food. Love sells organic, plant-based, gluten-free foods with no packaging. The store encourages customers to make a conscious effort to reduce their waste and Flourish Foods will be sure to follow in their footsteps.

Richard said: “People come to the shop on a daily basis so I’m hoping people will use Flourish Foods as much as people use ours.

“I think it’s going to be a ripple effect now. Once people experience this way of shopping they can’t go back to buying plastic bags – it’s as simple as that.”

Flourish Foods has seen an overwhelming amount of support from the people of Manchester and the founder is sure that “the city is ready for this”.

Since the plan was launched earlier this year, many businesses in hospitality have been quick to sign the pledge, including Wetherspoons, who have already introduced biodegradable straws at all their branches.

Manchester’s smaller businesses have also made an effort to drive down their use of single-use plastics.

Bundobust, the critically acclaimed “beer and Indian” joint situated a stone’s throw away from the Northern Quarter, is just one example of a small business that has made the conscious choice to be entirely plastic-free and switch to biodegradable straws.

Restaurant Manager, Eden Young, said: “People might think it’s a bit trivial but it’s very important.

“It seems like such a minor thing but it will make a massive change.”

The plastic-free pledge has set a tone for the city and provided a direction for both businesses and consumers alike.

Nikki said: “It reminds us that the choices we make here in Manchester can and do ripple outwards when we lead by example.

“Flourish is signed up to the plastic-free pledge and I believe we can do anything here in Manchester if we put our minds to it.

“Our city has been home to so many ground-breaking socio-political movements and now we’ve set our sights on being plastic-free. We can do that too.”

In a study carried out earlier this year, it was revealed that the River Tame had the highest levels of micro-plastic pollution ever recorded. The river had dumped billions of plastic particles into the sea in just one year.

Nikki said: “We have a problem, it’s a global problem but some of that is hitting home in Manchester and so my feeling is that it is time for more government regulation on waste more generally, less packaging at source would be a wonderful start.

“These are huge chances though, and so we may have to accept that it will be up to grass-root organisations within communities, like Flourish, who will make the biggest impacts.”

Campaigns such as Plastic-Free July have encouraged people to make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of single-use plastic they consume on a daily-basis and have helped people make small changes in their everyday lives.

Richard said: “At the minute, there is too much plastic going astray and going into our oceans and we need to make massive changes now as opposed to waiting a year or until 2020 even.

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