So today I treated myself to a sad schmuck, teenless/husbandless drive out to the supermarket (I know how to live!). In my quest to limit plastic, I’ve been researching zero waste supermarkets and pop ups in my local area and The Clean Kilo seems the nearest permanent one to me, in Digbeth, Birmingham. It takes a good 55 minutes (to be exact of course!) to get there. Thus, my trips to this place will be limited. However, today I decided to just do it! I’ve been putting it off for a while due to lack of time, but there really is no time like the present. There are other zero waste pop ups that appear sporadically at farmer’s markets, but at this time of year are in short supply, and whilst a trip out to a supermarket without kids on a Saturday morning is probably most people’s idea of hell, this was an altogether different type of trip.
Leaving at 8.15am on a Saturday was actually a pretty easy run. Parking is not on site, but at that time of day, there was a lot of off street parking around the area and there’s a big cheap car park at 50p an hour if needed.
So, let’s start with the store.
It’s in an old bank building and has been renovated beautifully, reclaimed floor boards, recycled units etc, so first impressions were pleasing on the eye. Not that I am particularly won over by things that are aesthetically pleasing on the eye (that would be shallow right?!), I do like the look of natural woods and materials, things in my weird and sad middle age I can run my hands over and go ‘aaahhhhh!’ – don’t read too much into that 😉 I took my jars, boxes and tins from home and a list of things I was running low on.
The store is laid out really easily with the dispensers around the edges of the store and the fresh produce and a few jars of lesser used products in the middle. There is a much larger range than I was expecting including herbs and spices, dried goods (obviously), pine nuts, coffee, tea, fresh veg and fruit, some bread, cheese, butter and plant milks. They also have a limited range of frozen things such as tempeh and have zero waste products such as bamboo toothbrushes, beeswax wraps (and beeswax!!), face wipes etc. They also sell laundry liquid, washing up liquid, shampoo (although the selection of liquid shampoo is limited, they do have bars – I still have to learn to love these!) and KOMBUCHA!! I was so happy to be able to buy this in my own bottle.
The staff (well, chap, as he was on his own) were friendly and immediately helped me out in my virgin visit. Jars, if they are your own, are weighed empty, you then fill and they deduct the weight of the jar from your final product. If you haven’t enough jars as (like me) you suddenly decide you need extra things that weren’t on your list, you have a choice: you can buy one of their jars, or you can use one of the recycled ones from the donated container basket. Whilst I was there at least five or so other customers came in and were buying, so it’s obviously proving a successful enterprise, let’s just hope it catches on in other parts of the country (hint, hint!)
It was a bit of a gentle massage for my over-Christmassed soul this morning. The Clean Kilo, I am really impressed and it is worth making the trip once every other month to stock up, although if you’re thinking of opening up another store anytime soon, give me a shout as there’s a town here that is desperately lacking.
On the way back to the car, I decided to do a bit of a photo exploration. Digbeth is obviously home to a lot of graffiti artists and this is truly celebrated in the area. So, massage your soul with a few amazing works of art that adorn the walls around The Clean Kilo and have a lovely week!