In July 2018, inspired by the drive towards plastic-free shopping, a group of local people in Cheltenham realised there was nowhere to buy loose food and household refills in their area.
Global Footsteps, an ethical campaigning charity, worked with the group to create the town’s first loose food and refills shop by offering them the use of both their retail space and legal umbrella as project owner.
Over the next 12 months, word spread and the project – run by five volunteers, and called FoodLoose – grew, attracting a community of loyal customers and the capacity to employ a full-time shop manager.
In June 2021, the time came for FoodLoose to stand up as its own business. FoodLoose Limited was established as a Community Benefit Society, managed by the team of volunteers. Now, they’re hoping to expand even further, through crowdfunding support.
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“We are a volunteer-run Community Benefit Society, dedicated to offering ethically-sourced and sustainable food, cleaning and beauty products that are plastic-free at the point of sale,” they tell Smiley News.
Their core products include: loose dried food, including flours, sugars, rice and pasta; loose tea and coffee beans; liquid cleaning products, like washing up and laundry liquids; personal and beauty products; and household and kitchen products.
“Since opening in December 2018 and despite the challenges of the past few years, we have gone from strength to strength. As customer demand for products and services has grown we are finding our current premises no longer meet our needs and investment is needed for us to move the business to the next level.”
The volunteers at FoodLoose are seeking to raise between £40,000 and £75,000 – primarily to fund the move of the current shop to larger premises but, if enough is raised, to also cover the first year’s costs of employing a shop manager, the installation of an integrated electronic point of sale system and expanded options for delivery.
“The interest and enthusiasm of our customers is our constant inspiration,” they say. “The natural growth of the business over the past few years has shown us that the desire for our way of shopping is there. We wanted to bring the community on board to really take the business to the next level and inspire others on their journey of more sustainable and ethical shopping.”
[Discover more positive stories about people giving back on Smiley Movement]
Removing the use of single-use plastic
Single-use plastics make up a huge proportion of our landfill, with only a small percentage being recycled. Without efforts being made to drastically reduce the production and consumption of these plastics the impact on climate change and the natural world is only going to continue to worsen, they say.
“By working with our communities to show that it is possible to drastically reduce, if not eliminate, our reliance on single use plastics in our food chain we hope to educate and inspire people to make changes in the way they approach shopping and consumption,” they say.
“We believe that by each doing something we can collectively make a big difference and promote real change.”
To support FoodLoose, donate on Crowdfunder.