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Zero Plastic, Zero Waste store aims to change the way we shop to benefit the planet

08 September 2021

As the world begins to pay closer attention to the global climate emergency, one shop in Co. Derry has a novel approach to retail that is helping to offset the impact we as consumers are having on the planet. ‘Ethical Weigh’ in the village of Eglinton offers shoppers a unique in-store experience that they won’t find replicated in large-scale supermarkets. The store’s ‘zero plastic, zero waste’ philosophy aims to change the way we shop to benefit the planet.


Serving all the usual grocery favourites such as fruit, vegetables, milk, butter, bread, eggs and cheese, the store offers shoppers the chance to forgo the plastic packaging that is having such a damaging impact on the environment. A quick browse on the store’s website or in the shop itself reveals a cornucopia of ethically made products covering every item imaginable for those concerned about their carbon footprint.


From bamboo kitchen cutlery to toiletry items made using locally sourced ingredients, at Ethical Weigh plastic is treated with contempt. The shop employs creative ways to eliminate the need for plastic. For example, food and other products are free of the plastic packaging you would normally see in other stores.


Store-owner Sinead Burley said that as a business, keeping prices as competitive as possible while offering organic, ethically sourced products is paramount for the loyal base of customers they have built up since opening.


She said:

“We were never wealthy growing up, so I think it’s important that not only the rich eat healthy. Organic produce shouldn’t be expensive, and we try to make it as accessible to as much people as possible.”


Customers who shop at Ethical Weigh are actively encouraged to bring their empty containers to the shop to refill them with the products they need. Shampoo, body wash and even washing-up liquid are all products available for sale in store as refills. 


That way, the customer is only paying for the cost of the refill, and not the plastic packaging the product would normally come in. This helps to reduce the amount of plastic introduced to the environment and at the same time, waste is decreased.


Refilling isn’t just limited to household products, as customers can also refill food items such as cereal, nuts, spices, flour or seeds. Letting the customer decide how much they need has the added benefit of reducing both waste and cost.


It all forms part of the store’s ‘Zero Plastic, Zero Waste shop’ ethos, that makes it unique in the North West.


With climate change and environmental issues becoming increasingly more relevant in our daily lives, Ethical Weigh’s approach to retail has become more pertinent, as so much plastic finds its way to landfill.


According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP):

“Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the early 1950s. About 60% of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment.”

The UNEP have also predicted that if current trends continue our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050.


Karen Phillips, Director of Environment and Regeneration, from Derry City & Strabane District Council, said: 
“Businesses like Ethical Weigh are an ideal example of how we can move towards a circular economy, reducing waste and keeping products and materials in use. They have been successful by offering customers choice and the chance to help the environment at the same time. It has never been more important to consider our impact on the planet as we endeavour to support local businesses. We would encourage everyone to think local and shop local, as a great way to reduce our carbon footprint.”


Derry City and Strabane District Council became the first council area in Northern Ireland to adopt a Climate Change Adaptation Plan in July 2020. Council also committed to wider climate action through a Climate Change Emergency Pledge. This pledge outlines the Council's climate action commitments, including a shift to net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the city and district by 2045. 


Not content with just saving the planet with the products it sells, Ethical Weigh is also noted for the delicious food it offers its customers including a to-go deli food section with a salad and sandwich bar.


The store’s food-to-go range includes vegan and vegetarian meals, all made fresh to order in store. Pan-fried falafel wraps, Thai red curry and vegetable risotto are just some of the dishes on offer for hungry punters.


Offering ethical shopping and appealing food to go has been key to Ethical Weigh’s ongoing success. In fact, the shop has recently hired more staff and a full-time chef, such is the demand for its produce. Here’s hoping other businesses will take a leaf out of the store’s book and replicate the positive impact it is having on the environment and the planet overall. After all, we only have one.



Open Tuesday-Thursday from 10am until 6pm, the Ethical Weigh shop is also open Friday 10am until 7pm and Saturday 10am-5pm.


The shop is situated just a short drive from Derry City, in Eglinton’s Benbow Industrial Estate. To find out more, visit www.ethicalweigh.com or call 028 7181 0022.