When I first met Laura back in the summer of 2017, I came away feeling as if I’d been on a date that had gone really, really well. We clicked, big time.
And that was before she’d even opened up her stunning bulk store!
Keen to show that zero waste grocery shopping could be done in style, Laura launched hetu (meaning ‘purpose’ in Hindi) in November 2017 – a vegan, zero waste bulk shop selling organic food, reusable products, organic cleaning refills and plastic-free personal care products. The shop is also conveniently located within easy reach for yours truly (hooray!); either by bus from Chelsea (hop on the 319), a pleasant 45 minute walk via Albert Bridge (the prettiest, if I do say so myself!) and through Battersea Park or a short 10 minute walk from Clapham Junction station. I like walking best.
The aesthetic inside is minimal and stylish, from stunning glass gravity bins with wooden handles, to wooden topped glass jars housing herbs and spices galore with adorable vintage spoons for scooping… everything just looks beautiful.
All of the dry goods are organic, with a growing focus on UK producers. I know Laura has some unique and interesting beans and grains coming soon that have been grown organically in the UK.
The vegetables are supplied by Oddbox who rescue wonky or surplus veg from local growers and deliver to your door and local businesses. They also partner with charities such as City Harvest, who provide free produce to local food banks.
Kitty’s Kombucha is available on tap! I had met the owner of Kitty’s Kombucha a few months ago at the Richmond market and I loved that he was operating a refillable bottle exchange scheme on his swing top bottles. I mentioned that a friend of mine was opening a bulk store and perhaps he should get in touch. Looks like he did just that! Love it when connecting people works out!
Sustainability pulses through every bubble of Kitty’s Kombucha; from using only recycled and recyclable packaging with zero plastic (and returnable/refillable!), using energy produced exclusively from renewable sources (solar, wind, tidal) at their brewing station and even delivering orders by good ol’ bicycle.
The Kombucha is brewed in re-purposed oak barrels which once housed Bourbon and whisky and originally came from responsibly managed, fast-growing forests. They impart a mellow, full body to the kombucha as well as helping to maintain a very low alcohol content (less than 0.5% ABV), taking away any vinegary notes that kombucha sometimes carries.
Crucially though, it’s delicious and there are a few flavours to choose from.
These Juice Pulp crackers have become a bit of an addiction! Made from the left over pulp in juice production, these go reeaaalllly well with cheese… or as a tasty snack on their own. I took some over to my Mum’s for Christmas and let’s just say they disappeared pretty quickly.
The nut butter machine is by German brand heyqnut – free from plastic (apart from the tiny window at the front), it grinds nuts in to a smooth and delicious nut butter – it’s also super fun to use!
Greenscents is one of my favourite cleaning brands and hetu has their washing up liquid, laundry liquid, fabric softener and multi-surface spray available in refills. All of the products are certified organic by the Soil Association, made in small batches in Somerset using pure Exmoor water and fully biodegradable. I especially love their multi-surface spray!
As well as some essential zero waste items such as reusable coffee cups, water bottles, razors and containers, hetu also stocks a selection of personal care products, from unpackaged natural soaps and shea butter in glass jars to toothpaste* and loo roll by Who Gives A Crap.
And finally, behind the scenes! Last time I stopped by to pick up some juice pulp crackers for my Mum (seriously, she’s obsessed with them!), a delivery arrived. I often hear people complaining that bulk stores likely receive their produce in plastic so what’s the point of shopping zero waste (there can be some real Debbie Downers out there!) – and whilst some things do come in plastic, I know Laura as well as many other bulk store owners work with their suppliers to avoid unnecessary plastic as much as possible. I have heard the same from other bulk stores in the U.K, including Bulk Market and Earth Food Love who all work to inform their suppliers about why less plastic is better and have helped change the way they work. Every step helps!
If you find yourself in London, make time to swing by, say “hi” and stock up on some zero waste groceries. Just make sure you pack an extra cloth bag… you’ll be wanting those juice pulp crackers for sure!
Side note: A short walk away, across the road (heading east, towards Clapham Junction station) you’ll find We Brought Beer – a convenient stop off for a refillable growler of beer with their “on-tap” offering changing all the time. Slightly further away (about 20 mins walk in the same direction) on Battersea Park Road, sits Borough Wines – one of their many locations throughout London, with a wine and olive oil refill station.