5 new zero waste businesses (at least for me) discovered at Covent Garden Quarter’s eco market in Leamington Spa on Sunday, 15th September
The sun was shining and business was bustling for the arts, crafts and eco traders exhibiting on Sunday’s Covent Garden Quarter market. Alongside some familiar faces from Warwickshire’s zero waste and arts & crafts community including Milik, Core Wholefoods, and Menagical Vintage, I’ve discovered a number of fascinating, passionate eco and zero waste businesses I hadn’t met before, so I thought I’d introduce them to you in case it’s useful.
1 Sage & Grace
SAGE & GRACE makes and sells essential oil candles, all hand-poured in Leamington Spa. Founder Hannah created her business out of our love for a sustainable and natural living environment. And: Hannah runs SAGE & GRACE alongside studying for her metallurgy PhD in aero engineering which is very impressive!
All of SAGE & GRACE’s candles are made from pure essential oils, cruelty free and vegan, and Hannah ensures that all of their products are recyclable. I had a sniff at those candles underneath the glass domes and the smell was divine!
Hannah says: “We believe interior design affects our mood and well-being and we have created our first project – candles, which are proven to affect our emotions and how we feel.
“The candles reflect my personal lifestyle… I wanted a brand that is vegan and cruelty free, something I started to support a long time ago.”hannah, founder, sage & grace
“I also wanted to ensure I was using the most natural materials so everyone can enjoy a beautifully scented home without compromising their health. We all deserve that.”
You can buy SAGE & GRACE candles through their online shop or at pop-up markets like this one. Make sure you follow their social media channels on Facebook and Instagram to find out about any upcoming events and new product launches.
2 Twig Plants
Coventry-based Twig Plants makes beautifully designed and handcrafted pots to go with their home grown plants. The company was founded by Sarah Cheetham in March 2019. Their mission is to help people transform their living space into an oasis of calm by bringing the outside in and reconnecting people back to nature with their stylish handcrafted pots and plants.
Having worked in conservation in places as exotic as Cambodia, Costa Rica, Congo and Papua New Guinea for the past eight years, Sarah was looking for a way to combine her conservation knowledge with her creativity and her love of design and nature.
Sarah explains: “Working in conservation, I realised the close connection people have to the land, nature and each other. As more and more people live in urban environments we are losing this inherent connection. This realisation triggered something in me.”
“I looked at the constants in my life and my ‘happy places’. After a tough day whether emotional or physical I found myself gravitating to nature – be it outside with the trees or inside with my ever growing plant collection.”Sarah Cheetham, founder, twig plants
“I’ve always been creative. I love to paint and get my hands dirty at every opportunity. So I thought about the ever increasing amount of people flocking to the cities and away from nature. So I decided to be bring the nature back to them! Plants create calm, introduce wilderness and improve wellbeing. […] Taking this idea I wanted to create beautiful, timeless designs with luscious green life reviving plants. This is how Twig was planted.”
Having seen Sarah’s stall on Sunday, I envy her green thumb and have to say, her hand-poured concrete pots are so stylish!
3 Open Heart Chocolate
Open Heart Chocolate sells handmade vegan chocolate and cacao based treats. It’s run by Chocolatier and Chanter, Asha, out of the Cotswolds.
Asha prides herself on the quality and purity of her chocolate by only using simple and honest ingredients, including cacao butter, cacao powder, maple syrup, and then the fruit or nuts and essence that are featured in each bar. All products are made without refined sugar, neither do they include any nasties such as dairy, gluten, soya, preservatives or palm oil.
In addition, all of Open Heart Chocolate’s packaging is biodegradable, which gets a double thumbs-up from me! I don’t normally eat chocolate but had to sample some of Asha’s sweet treats, and then some more, that’s how delicious they were!
“Cacao is considered by many to be a heart opener. The opening of the heart, leading to a connection to the universe can be triggered by the consumption of this sacred bean in its raw form.Asha, founder, open heart chocolate
“Upon taking a large dose of cacao many do indeed feel a warm open feeling in the heart chakra area,” Asha continues. “Often they feel a sense of joy and a deep connection to the universe and all within it.”
“This energy is the foundation for my starting Open Heart Chocolate, to share the energies from within this sacred plant. Oh, and of course, we put in extra love by chanting whilst it’s made! Namaste.”
4 The Wild Tree
Plastic free shop The Wild Tree aims to provide a selection of thought provoking, plastic-free, upcylced, sustainable, vegan, zero-waste and environmentally friendly lifestyle products and gifts. The Wild Tree was opened in 2018 by owner and founder Suzie and operates out of Snitterfield near Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire.
The Wild Tree aims to offer reasonably priced yet contemporary and stylish alternatives to the every day items that people may assume are only available in plastic. Its ambition is that, eventually, everyone will add reusable bags, bottles, coffee cups etc. to their checklist before they leave the home, alongside keys, money, glasses, etc.
All products sold through The Wild Tree webshop are delivered in recyclable packaging and sealed with paper tape, which I can only applaud! I’m a big fan of zero waste shops like this one who understand that people will use sustainable, re-usable products if they’re stylish and fun to use, and I must say The Wild Tree have a great selection!
Founder Suzie says: “Whilst out walking with my family, I started to notice more and more discarded plastic waste littering our country roads, woodlands and waterways. The shock of seeing the extent of this problem so close to home made me begin to look for plastic free alternatives to every day household items.
“I spent many a late night researching and sourcing products that were either sustainable, plastic free, compostable, biodegradable, recycled, upcycled, vegan …. or any combination of those qualities.
“With my newfound knowledge and passion to do ‘my bit’ and spread the word, the seed of the The Wild Tree was sown.”suzie, founder, the wild tree
For stylish, sustainable shopping that literally doesn’t cost the earth, head to The Wild Tree’s online shop and follow them on Facebook and Instagram to be in the loop about any upcoming events and pop-up shops.
If you’re from the area then you’re probably wondering why I’m including the Smithery from Warwick in this list, given they launched way back in October 2015… I have to admit that while I was well aware of their lovely shop on Smith Street in Warwick, I didn’t quite register founder Lara Smith’s passion for and emphasis on sourcing handcrafted, locally made, and – most importantly – eco-friendly products. So here’s a profile on The Smithery to make up for my ignorance! 🙂
Smithery is based on Warwick’s independent Smith Street, one of the few places you can still find a butcher, baker, tea shop (and a local market around the corner). The team have a passion for handmade and good design and support talented craftspeople worldwide, celebrating their skills and bringing their products to a wider audience.
Lara says: “There’s something magical about buying handmade goods, rather than a factory made object, it also helps our environment, supports our artistic community and improves our local economy. As a designer I wanted to support other makers and give them a platform to showcase their work, telling the story behind what they do.”
“Our strategy is very simple – promote handmade as much as possible. More makers means less factories churning out unnecessary waste worldwide!”Lara smith, founder, smithery, On her passion for sustainability
Proving that these aren’t just words, the Smithery were recently shortlisted for Insider Media’s Made in the Midlands Award in their Sustainability/Green Manufacturer category. Huge congratulations!
You can find the Smithery online or on 23 Smith Street in Warwick. As a reader of bluegreen.blog, you can even get 10% off your first online order with code: FIRST10
Finally, I stumbled across Tropic Skincare at Covent Garden Quarter’s market. While Tropic Skincare is a UK-wide company operating through an online shop and their local ‘ambassadors’, I nevertheless wanted to give them an honourable mention in this list. That’s because I was impressed by their commitment to freshly made, cruelty-free, natural skincare and beauty products.
Tropic Skincare have been certified as a 100% cruelty-free brand by Cruelty Free International, The Vegan Society and PETA, and are one of the few certified CarbonNeutral® companies in the UK. According to their website, Tropic Skincare sent just 0.52% of their waste to landfill in 2018, and they offer a packaging returns initiative for some of their products, while they’re working on more sustainable packaging solutions for their products.
Local Tropic Skincare ambassador Clare Green says: “I joined Tropic Skincare firstly because of my personal addiction to Elixir oil and Tamanu balm – I’ve spent years and thousands on pounds on creams, lotions and potions and can honestly say I’ve never found anything that works so well for my sensitive skin. I’d seen first-hand the results with my eczema and connecting into the Tropic Skincare community saw that I was not alone.”
Clare also offers individual and group beauty treatments using Tropic Skincare products and runs skincare and make-up workshops in the area. You can find out more and book these services on her Facebook page, and order Tropic Skincare products through her web shop. She also has an Instagram account.
Disclaimer: I’m aware of various multi-level marketing companies operating in the UK and the controversies around some of their operating models that have been documented by the UK media. I haven’t been able to confirm from if Tropic Skincare is classed as a multi-level-marketing company or not, but Clare assured me that Tropic Skincare is a registered skincare company that uses a social selling model because their products are so fresh that they could never be stocked in shops. They have also won a number of respectable 3rd party business and beauty awards, and Lord Alan Sugar is a 50% shareholder of the business (the founder Susie Ma was featured on The Apprentice) which gave me the reassurance to feature them here. This isn’t an endorsement of the company or their business model or a recommendation to join them as an ambassador.
Local markets are great for discovering new pioneering eco and zero waste businesses
I love visiting markets like the Covent Garden Quarter’s arts, crafts and eco market, or Leamington’s recent Eco Festival, because they give people who are passionate about protecting the environment and reducing plastic waste a forum to showcase their products and grow their businesses.
This blog is about building a zero waste community in Warwickshire and supporting pioneering zero waste businesses with free publicity to help them grow, so please let me know about any upcoming markets, pop-ups, events etc. in the comments below. Also, if you own or work for a sustainable business in Warwickshire and would like to be featured here, then please get in touch. Cheers, Bettina