By Victoria Harris
In the last year, Leeds has seen an increase in zero waste strategies across the city centre.
EcoTopia and The Jar Tree are both plastic free and zero waste stores that operate in the heart of the city.
EcoTopia focuses on providing an affordable, yet environmentally friendly service by using a weigh-and-pay scheme.
Shoppers are able to buy as little or as much as they want, which results in them only paying for what they need and consequently reducing waste.
This varies from laundry detergents, to fruit, vegetables, pasta and rice.
The store also sells reusable containers and water bottles, alongside organic deodorants and beeswax strips.
Store owner, Samantha Newton said: “The idea of EcoTopia is to be able to do your weekly food shop in one place, which is affordable and also not harming the environment.
“We are a completely plastic free store, and we offer a service that is becoming increasingly popular across Leeds with other stores such as The Jar Tree opening up providing a really similar service.
“At the minute we are still expanding our products and we want to keep doing this so that customers have more choice to choose from as we understand stores like ours are usually very limited in what can be bought.”
Another store that operates in a similar way to EcoTopia is The Jar Tree which is located in Kirkgate Market.
The Jar Tree also offers sustainable products with limited use of plastic, in support of minimising waste across Leeds.
Katie Philpott, a customer of The Jar Tree, said: “The Jar Tree is such an affordable place to do your shopping in a sustainable way and as I am a student being able to afford the products is one of the biggest things for me.
“It’s really hard wanting to buy sustainable items when you’re a student as you’re often strapped for cash and don’t have anything to spare for this kind of items as they’re usually so expensive, but with the Jar Tree I feel they do have really student-friendly prices.
“There is a lot of variety too and I don’t feel limited at all when I shop there.
“I’m looking forward to hopefully see if this trend catches on elsewhere in Leeds because I think it would really benefit the city.”
Alongside eco-friendly stores opening across Leeds, the city centre has also seen a makeover with coffee cups and new bins as part of a LeedsByExample campaign.
Across Briggate and Trinity Shopping Centre, coffee cups and newly designed bins have been placed in order to get people to recycle their coffee cups.
Currently, 95 million cups of coffee are consumed across the UK every day, and around 500,000 of these cups are still not being recycled.
However, local organisation Zero Waste Leeds have made it their mission to help reduce the amount of plastic and other recyclable products from going to waste.
Disposing of food and drinks around the city centre is a noticeable challenge, which is where the idea of creating these bins stemmed from.
Aimee Greenhalgh, a shopper who used one of the bins in Trinity Leeds, said: “I do think this is a good idea to have across Leeds as to be honest I probably wouldn’t have recycled this cup if the bin didn’t catch my eye.
“It’s a really good way to make people like me, who have no idea about recycling, to actually recycle their cups.
“I don’t feel like many other cities have the resources for recycling as we do here in Leeds, especially now with this LeedsByExample campaign.”
Leeds is currently setting an example for other cities in the UK to follow.
New plastic free stores are also set to open in 2019, alongside more campaigning from Zero Waste Leeds.
Leeds waste fact file
- Currently, 306,000 tonnes of waste are collected by Leeds City Council every year.
- Only 40% of this waste is recycled.
- From households alone, in 2015/16 the amount was equal to the weight of 3,200 double decker buses.
- 52% of products that are recyclable are still being disposed of in non-recyclable bins in and around Leeds.
- £5.2m was saved by the council in 2015 from recycling instead of disposing of waste in a landfill site.
- National targets have been set for councils to recycle 50% of waste by 2020.