Ella Shone’s small electric truck used to deliver milk, but now she drives it around London, selling groceries and household items without plastic packaging.
The 32-year-old bought her ‘refill truck’ last year after the first coronavirus lockdown caused her to think about innovative ways to reduce waste.
She found a lot of demand for her service, with customers picking up dry groceries such as lentils or filling bottles in large vinegar or laundry detergent dispensers.
On a rainy day in May, the 32-year-old made eight stops in the booming Hackney district of north-east London.
“It’s very simple: it’s a bit like a go-kart ride,” she said of driving the truck, which has a top speed of 48 kilometers per hour.
But she admitted that the management can get “a bit bumpy”.
At one stop, three customers bought dried mango, pasta, raisins and shampoo.
The mobile store was created to bring “no-wrap” shopping to people’s doors, tapping into a growing demand for deliveries during stay-at-home restrictions.
“I felt there was a need to make it easier, to make it more accessible, more visible,” she said.
Still, she wasn’t immediately sure her idea was viable.
“When I started this I thought I had gone a little crazy on leave,” she admitted.
During the lockdown, Shone was on government-subsidized leave of absence from his sales work at a company producing sustainable condiments.
She decided to buy the truck with the money she saved during lockdown, wishing to provide a ‘community shopping experience’.
# photo1 Truck deliveries started in August of last year and customers can book a stop online.
Electric vehicles – commonly known as milk floats – were once commonly used by milkmen to deliver bottles of fresh milk to the doorstep of households.
Customers have returned them for reuse, and Shone says his truck is causing a “nostalgic” reaction.
But it responds to very current concerns about plastic packaging, which disintegrates over time, creating ubiquitous microplastic pollution.
Activism targeting governments and businesses can help, she said, but added, “I think there is a lot to be done at the consumer level. “
– “Awakening” from the pandemic –
The UK is the world’s second largest producer of plastic waste per person behind the United States, according to Greenpeace.
A study published in January by Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency found that the UK’s 10 largest supermarket chains reduced their plastic use by just 1.6% in 2019, despite promises of change.
Shone is nonetheless optimistic about motivating people to reduce packaging waste.
# photo2 “During the pandemic, there has been a bit of a backlash towards single use (plastic) simply because people are afraid to reuse something that could lead to the transmission of Covid-19”, she said declared.
“But against the grain, I think there has been an awareness in terms of our responsibility towards the environment. “
In April, she raised £ 15,000 ($ 21,000) through a crowdfunding campaign, which allowed her to add more shelves to her float. She also quit her previous job.
Ultimately, Shone would like to see a ban on single-use plastic packaging.
“And the recycling infrastructure is pretty terrible as well. “
© 2021 AFP