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New ethical shopping venture aims to cut out plastics while beating supermarkets on price

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Sinead Burley who has opened Ethical Weigh in Eglinton, where customers bring their own reusable containers for their food and household items

Sinead Burley who has opened Ethical Weigh in Eglinton, where customers bring their own reusable containers for their food and household items

Sinead Burley who has opened Ethical Weigh in Eglinton, where customers bring their own reusable containers for their food and household items

It's a shopping concept that harks back to the 1930s but with a modern day twist - where nothing for sale comes in pre-packed plastic.

Ethical Weigh in the Co Londonderry village of Eglinton allows shoppers to buy as much or as little of any product as they wish - whether that is vegetables, bread, cereal, nuts, spices, flour or seeds - and they can even bring their own container.

If they bring a bottle, they can have their fill of a range of vinegars, soya sauce, olive and vegetable oils and even milk.

It is not just food stuff that husband and wife team Paul and Sinead Burley sell - liquid soap, detergent, shampoo and conditioner along with a novel range of non-aerosol deodorants can also be bought at their unusual shop.

Everything on the shelves at Ethical Weigh is also organic, fair trade, eco-friendly, locally sourced and competitively priced.

To make things easy for the shopper, prices are given per 100 grams whether it is organic whole-wheat pasta at 30 pence, long grain brown rice at 26 pence or jumbo oat-flakes at 25 pence.

In the same way, milk can be bought at £1.20 per litre while extra virgin olive oil unfiltered is 85 pence per 100mls and malt vinegar is 90 pence per 100mls.

Sinead, a mother-of-five, told the Belfast Telegraph this is a new venture which combines her desire to reduce the use of plastic bags, containers and wrapping and food waste.

She explained: "We had for a long time tried to reduce the amount of plastic in our own house as much as we could but there are some products such as rice, pasta and even some vegetables where we had no choice.

"I was faced every day with ethical choices about price and quantity and buying something wrapped in plastic for less money than I could if I bought the same thing loose.

"I have a family of five so I couldn't always afford to go for the organic choice so what we have done is open a shop that will give people the chance to do an entire shop in an ethical way with zero plastic."

People coming to Ethical Weigh can bring their own containers even if they are plastic with a view of reusing them.

Sinead continued: "We encourage people to fill their own containers and when those containers are empty, remember to come back to Ethical Weigh for a refill. This way, packaging will be reused time and time again which in itself reduces the need for packaging.

"This way we can not only offer our produce at a competitive rate, we can often beat the supermarkets because they don't have to buy three for the price of two so they spend less.

"We are already getting incredible feedback from people who say they live alone or there are only two people in the house and love the idea of being able to buy just enough to meet their needs. This is also something that is close to my own heart. I hate to see food being wasted but even with the best will in the world, those buy two get three deals inevitably lead to food being thrown in the bin."

Amongst the produce on offer are a range of delicious artisan breads including a range of wheaten scones home-made by Paul which perfectly compliment the aromatic soup available for the hungry shopper.

Sinead added: "Paul has been a chef for 30 years and it was his knowledge of food that has brought us here because he was used to ordering food from reliable, local suppliers.

"Paul bakes the wheaten bread and makes the soup using the vegetables we have the most of, which again is the best way to make use of seasonal food," she said.

"We hope to expand soon to include a cafe where our customers can come and buy their groceries and sit a while with their friends and enjoy what we have on offer."

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