I thought I’d create a post for you this week during plastic free July, that will give you some options for local shopping close to Banbury, Oxfordshire, where you can get products without the packaging and supporting independent retailers too.
Market: Let’s start here! The market comes along every Thursday and Saturday and there is always a super range of fruit, veg, breads, cheese, meat and sometimes fish and plants (seasonally). As of last week (7th July), most were taking cash.
Nothing but Footprints: in our very own Castle Quay, the wonderful Dan and Vi have started this shop from a market stall and lots of loyal custom to a wonderful growing shop in the centre of town. They stock just about everything you can want from pulses, grains and cereal to household cleaners, sanitiser and women’s period products. Take your own refillable containers, weigh and pay for what you need. If you don’t have refillable or you forget, they have cotton bags you can purchase or glass or aluminium bottles too. Their stock is constantly getting bigger and if you follow them on their facebook page, they update with things like fresh bread when it comes in too!
Farmshops: Wykham Park and Bodicote are the ones I know best and have a huge range of loose fruit and veg. Wykham also sells frozen goods loose in their freezer which you can take home in their bags (sadly plastic) or your own bags, milk in bottles and has a big deli and butcher counter. Bodicote also has a fantastic range of things for your horses, chickens and other farm animals including straw and hay.
Petstores: This is often a bit of a bone of contention (no pun intended) as everything is always wrapped and double wrapped in the mainstream shops, however, Crofts on Broad Street, whilst selling the main contenders, also has a selection of treats for your pets that you can buy loose and for weight.
Toiletries and household:
Again Nothing but Footprints in Castle Quay have women’s period products, sunscreen, toothpaste (fluoride and non), brushes, make up, cleansers, deodorant etc. In the household area there are detergents, hand wash and sanitiser, dishwasher powder, bicarb, vinegar (to make your own), cream cleaner and a variety of multi purpose cleaners.
The Natural Health Store on George Street is a little hidden, but is a gem of toiletries. Not all of their products are zero waste, but they do sell soaps in cardboard or without packaging and some products in glass or metal containers. They also offer limited refills of household, primarily washing up liquid and laundry detergent.
Gifts and Other:
Banbury Museum Shop in Castle Quay have a super array of gifts made by local artisans; pottery, jewellery, scarves, woodcraft. I often pop there if I have a birthday to buy for. It’s nearly all without wrappings or plastic.
I am super excited for this to eventually open. It will be a ‘warehouse’ style home to pop ups: delis, cafes, artisan food and crafts. It’s still under construction right now but it’s getting there.
Abraxas in the market place is a lovely treasure trove of cooking and baking equipment. You will find just about anything you need in there (including a lot of what you don’t!). They have mason jars, kilner jars, seals, fermenting equipment, bread making baskets etc. Be warned, if you like your kitchen, you may not come out of there for sometime!
Finally, much as many people whinge about the amount of them, we do have a certain amount of good thrift stores in the town: The third tenet of zero waste is to re-use, so if you can’t refuse or reduce, then step three is to buy what has already been bought before.
Flowers and Coffee:
I’ve found a couple of fantastic places in recent months that sell ‘garden’ flowers and wrap in brown paper and paper tape or string. Firstly in the village of CULWORTH, there is a cute little stand on the side of the road that sells flowers at weekends. These are fresh from her garden and she sells small posies for a fiver and large ones for £10. Whilst you’re there, you could also stop for just about the.best.coffee. in the whole of the shire at ‘The Forge’. I am a total coffee snob and therefore I do speak from much experience. I have not tasted coffee this good since I lived in the USA (yup, I know, not exactly renown for their brilliant coffee, but we had a super indy coffee shop right near our house that sold coffee that it has taken me 10 years to find a replacement). They ALSO sell their coffee in compostable cups and lids – yes, all of it! SO, whilst we are currently in an environment where we can’t use our own reusable cups, this little independent set up is also trying hard to ensure they keep their carbon footprint to a minimum! Brilliant! Oh, they also do bread and cakes too! If you are still in Culworth, the local butcher (Mumfords) also needs a shout out. They also sell fruit and veg and it’s all from the local farmers.
The second place for flowers is Wilderness Wildflowers. She is based in Mollington. Her website states flowers for funerals but I think if you contact her via facebook, she will create bunches. I get mine from a friend who lives in her village. These are several days old now, but still look so lovely and there is something so aesthetically pleasing about wildflower bunches over the commercially produced ones.
Outlying villages and ‘other’:
There is a great recycling centre in Farthinghoe where I’ve bought Demi Johns, plant pots and kilner jars before (make sure you have some sterident or similar on hand to just sterilise them but a blast in the dishwasher and you’re good as new!).
There are also sometimes repair clinics or pop ups run by the Banbury Community Action Group where you can take along your broken item/bike/coffee maker and someone may well be able to repair it. Added to that there is a fantastic emporium of broken things being mended (and not) on Bridge Street next to the ride on mower shop where a super fixer of everything, fixes just about everything. Our 10 year old coffee machine is currently in for repair for the second time in 10 years and should be back with us for a further 5 years of service very soon! I believe there is a similar venture in Bicester, but I don’t know much about it, so if you’re local to there and want to fill me in, please do!
Slightly further afield is the fabulous Objects of Use in Market street in Oxford where you step back in time to the days of washing dollies and soap flakes, just about anything you could think of is in here. The only downside I feel is the price, it is rather expensive for most people’s budget but nothing stops me having a browse when I’m in Oxford. There is also Wast0 in Witney that I visited today on my way back from dropping number 2 child in Oxford. Again, a good range of things in there from which I came out with a bag of coco pops!!
Banbury really does have some independent gems if you look hard enough, not all of which are zero waste but many sell things without extra packaging, including an art shop (The Artery) and a sewing/knitting shop (Banbury Sewing Centre) down Parson’s street, a fresh juice and coffee bar (Blend) in Empire tattooists and a vegan cafe (Tom’s) on the opposite side of the canal to Castle Quay underneath the Banbury Museum (I have yet to try this out – I only learned about it as we went into lockdown and they shut. I think they are reopening imminently so I’ll be checking them out!).
So if you’re looking to re-think how you spend your hard earned as we ease out of the lockdown and would like to not only re-think your impact on the environment, but also how you’d like to support local independent businesses rather than some of the unsavoury chains that have come to our attention during this crisis for things they’d rather we forgot, then hopefully this little guide to our town will help.