As part of Our Planet Our Future, residents gathered on 21st March at The Plough and Harrow in Harpenden to hear from six inspiring local eco business owners, who are all now regular traders at the Harpenden Sustainability Markets, and learn the story behind some great local produce, which also reduces carbon footprint.
Attendees learnt about chilli products being made from 800 chilli plants in a disused greenhouse space in St Albans (by Chilli Gold), landfill fabric being turned into high quality long-lasting reusable products and short term rental of reusable party kits by Jefferson Crafts. A lockdown-inspired aromatherapy business using local ingredients (Zen + Soul), a biodiversity friendly cosmetics business (So Natural Cosmetics), bulk refill deliveries saving packaging waste and heavy trips from the shops (My Refill Life), were all featured along with the brilliantly repurposed, and solar powered, horse box used as a takeaway food truck by The Weeping Chef.
Ibukun and her husband started Chilli Gold growing chillies at home; they now have 800 plants growing in St Albans in disused spaces in a commercial greenhouse. They produce a range of sauces, mashes, jams, chutney and seasonings. The additional ingredients are sourced as locally as possible – the exception being the Himalayan salt!
Sonya’s daughter Danni started thinking about what could be done with spare fabric destined for landfill and in 2018 Sonya and Danni went into business together forming Jefferson Crafts. They are an eco shop with a difference, taking fabric destined for landfill and turning it into reusables, their products have evolved over time in response to customer requests. The material they use is off cuts from local businesses and material donated by residents and customers. They have recently introduced reusable party kits.
Zen + Soul studio was formed by Mum and Son Team, Tina and Miles. Originally an Aromatherapy business, last year they branched out to make scented aromatherapy inspired products for home, body and bath. The business was launched at Sustainability Market one year ago. Tina described how they source ingredients locally and closer to home, such as UK Sunflower to replace Almond oil and Rapeseed candle wax instead of Soya wax. Also quite a few Essential oils they use are grown in the UK. Tina also spoke about sustainable packaging, such as corn starch packaging peanuts.
Viviana’s business, My Refill Life, grew out of a lockdown suggestion from her son, who suggested filling up all the small sanitiser bottles for school from a huge one. Viviana now delivers environmentally friendly home cleaning, self care and pantry products to your doorstep to Harpenden, St Albans, Redbourn and Wheathampstead. Order on her website, leave out your empty bottles and they are refilled. Viviana receives pallets of 22 litre containers which she uses to refill her customers’ bottles – the containers are then returned and reused.
Keith and his partner Alec from The Weeping Chef use local ingredients to prepare amazing vegan takeaway dishes in a food truck which is a solar powered recycled horse box. These include wraps with mellifluous mushrooms grown in Radlett, tofu produced in Redbourn and hand made falafels and salads.
Ian’s business, So Natural Cosmetics, makes cosmetics using ingredients that are locally sourced. He talked about the search to find UK and ideally local ingredients to form the bases for his cosmetics. With almond bases being out of question, Ian turned to products such as hemp seeds.
All the speakers talked about their challenges to making their businesses sustainable (in all senses of the word!). Packaging can be a challenge – Tina demonstrated ‘packing nuts’ that are made from cellulose and dissolve in hot water!
In group discussions attendees highlighted the positive impact on the local economy of shopping with local businesses who in turn purchase their raw materials locally. Viviana, from My Refill Life, described that her e-commerce website was hosted in the UK and that she now partners with other local eco-businesses, such as the Refill Pantry and So Natural, and delivers their refills and products alongside her own.
You can find these local eco-businesses and many more at the Harpenden Sustainability Markets. These are organised by Sustainable St Albans in partnership with Harpenden Town Council and the next market is on Harpenden Common on 21st May, 10-3pm
Our Planet Our Future discussion events. This event was one of our regular series of events held in Harpenden. The next Our Planet Our Future event is the screening of the award winning film “The Ants and the Grasshopper” followed by a group discussion, on May 16th at 7.15pm at The Plough and Harrow. Book your free place here