Take a look inside St Leonards' new plastic-free shop

Hannah Robbins at Wonderfill in King's Road
Hannah Robbins at Wonderfill in King's Road

St Leonards new plastic-free shop got a 'kind and encouraging' welcome from residents when it opened for the first time yesterday.

Wonderfill, which stocks a range of food, household essentials and beauty products that avoid plastic or plastic packaging, has opened its doors in King’s Road.

Watch owner Hannah Robbins explain how it all works in the video above.

Hannah said of the shop's opening: "Everyone was so kind and encouraging, it was quite overwhelming actually.

"You have this idea, and you have no idea if it's what people want.

"But the thing I was really surprised by was how aware and how keen people were for it, how long they had been waiting for something like this."

Hannah, who was born in Eastbourne and grew in Lewes before living all over the UK, worked in PR and marketing for 12 years before deciding to switch her focus to setting up a zero waste shop.

She first got interested in the plastic-free movement when she attended a conference four years ago and met a sailor who was one of the first people to raise awareness of plastic in the ocean.

"At that point it was so under-reported, it was appalling," she said. "It made me conscious that every time you go shopping - you're adding to this mess."

It inspired her to attempt the Plastic Free July challenge that year, which was not easy, she admitted. "Without a shop where you can buy things loose, it's so difficult to avoid it," she said.

One of the first things she did to cut down on plastic was a bin audit, looking at what was in there and what could be swapped out.

For newcomers to the lifestyle, she said two effective moves people could make were getting their milk delivered in order to avoid plastic bottles and cutting down on cleaning products by using bicarbonate of soda instead - which she said was 'much better, and cheaper'.

Hannah is keen that Wonderfill attracts customers from 'all walks of life' in St Leonards.

She said: "I'm really keen that it doesn't just appeal to vegans and eco warriors. I want it to be a place where everyone can find a couple of things that will help them reduce their single use plastic.

"The local community is brilliantly diverse and very switched on. Everyone is very price-conscious obviously and that's a question I get asked a lot.

"And although I won't be able to match Tesco prices, because products cost me more to buy because I'm only buying for my shop, here people can buy only the quantity that they need, so that should cut down on costs."

And since opening , she said: "Quite a few people were surprised at how cheap things actually were. Some things are more expensive and some things are cheaper."

The shop is open from 10am to 6pm everyday except Monday and Tuesday, and open late until 8pm on Thursdays - but Hannah said this could change.

"This is the test period, the doors are open and I want people to come in," she said. "Whatever people need - different hours, different products - this is the time to get that feedback."

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