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A visit to the London vegan, zero waste shop that I am now a bit in love with

After my last (and first) attempt at zero waste shopping with my own containers was less than successful, I planned a trip to Hetu with some trepidation. I packed up a load of containers and glass jars, and set off with low expectations.

Hetu is a vegan, zero waste shop on St John's Hill in Clapham, where you can stock up on dry goods, cleaning products, and other waste-saving goodies. You bring your own containers to fill up with products, thereby saving the need for packaging. Plus you can buy exactly the among you need of anything, whether that's 5g or 500g. Genius, eh?

About two seconds after stepping inside Hetu, I became convinced this place was amazing. It the sort of bright-and-airy, pale wood, minimalist decor that looks like it's slipped out of the pages of a Scandi design book. Not only is it gorgeous to look at, they have everything you could possibly need to stock your pantry with. I think basically have a crush on this shop. (Is that wrong?)

Unlike my last attempt at using my own containers, Hetu's system is user-friendliness itself: you weigh your container, write the weight on using the pen provided, then fill up to your heart's content. When you're reading to pay, you take everything to the till, and the weight of your container is deducted from the weight of whatever you've bought (tl;dr - you don't get charged for the weight of the container.) Simple.


For a reasonably petite shop, Hetu manages to fit a lot of good stuff into a small space. On one wall, there's a range of hoppers containing all your vegan pulse and grain needs, from lentils and beans to chick peas and rice. Underneath, a range of bulk bins have all sorts of other pantry staples like nuts, seeds, polenta, and all manner of other goodies that you can shovel into your container for later.

A large wood table in the centre of the room is fully-equipped with almost all the herbs and spices you'll need. Behind that, there's dried fruit and other delights I've forgotten.

The range is impressively comprehensive: I'm pretty sure you could stock your pantry almost entirely from Hetu. As well as everyday stuff, there's a real thoughtfulness in selling those useful things like arrowroot, salt, and baking powder that you buy every now and then and are almost impossible to find in recyclable packaging.


Having a fondness for stockpiling pretty or tiny jars, I filled up on smoked paprika, oregano, and thyme, while I put old plastic tubs to work to carry out dried figs, red lentils, yellow dal, and pumpkin seeds. Were my cupboards reasonably stocked already, I assure you I wouldn't have stopped there. (Handily, if you do run out, Hetu even offers jars for free. There's a shelf for people to donate their spare glass jars for anyone who's run out and needs to pick up some bits and pieces. It's another smart touch from an extremely well-thought out shop).

As well as pure zero waste stuff, Hetu stocks some less-waste (is that the right way to refer to it? I'm guessing no! Waste reduction? Waste minimisation?) goodies that come without any plastic packaging. For example, there are shampoo bars which, unlike their liquid counterparts, come without a plastic bottle. They're not entirely waste free, as there's a cardboard box involved, but if I have to go home with packaging, I'd much rather it wasn't heavy on the hydrocarbons.

On that theme, I took myself off with a couple of rolls of Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. I didn't think when I dropped into Hetu I'd be waxing lyrical about a brand of poo tickets, but stick with me here. Who Gives A Crap toilet roll is wrapped in (recyclable) paper, rather than (unrecyclable) plastic like every other loo roll I've found, which is a yay from me.  The toilet roll itself is recycled, so there's your double yay. Aaaaand 50 percent of the company's profits get used to build toilets in areas around that don't have them. If you're not already thinking 'that sounds like some top notch bog roll', let me add the packaging's rather lovely too.


So, in short, I love Hetu. I wish every high street had one. Until the high street near me does, I'll be going back and back, touting my jars and picking up ethical toilet roll.

Hetu
http://www.hetu.co.uk/
201 St. Johns Hill
London
SW11 1TH
+44 (0)7391 700816

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8 comments

  1. Having been in some pretty sexy shops when we were in Malmö I can confirm that crushing on a shop is FINE (and normal). For the first time recently I remembered to take our empty Ecoleaf bottles to our local co-op for re-fills and I felt so proud like a puffed up bird I can't hardly tell you I was like ZERO WASTE SUPERSTAR. Only another 95% of changes to go YAS!

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  2. I am sure I would love to visit Hetu but your description of it being a bit beautifully scandi minimalist reminds me of a local bulk bin shop that is pretty zero waste. It is lovely but doesn't feel as genuine to me as a shop that is a bit ramshackle - perhaps because I was part of the uni co-op as a student. And my office will move location soon so I am closer to a food co-op and might convince me to shop there more. Glad you enjoyed Who Give's a Crap. I saw a recent comment about the downside on them being the miles the paper travels but there is a lot to love about them.

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  3. This shop sounds perfect. I used to be able to weigh containers and then fill them, but that was in another city where I used to live.

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  4. I am such a huge fan of the format! I wish it wasn't such an incredibly rarity to find no-packaging stores, but they really are such gems. It's encouraging to hear about this lovely little shop across the pond!

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  5. What an amazing place! Wish there was more places like that. Best toilet paper roll I've even seen. :-)

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  6. Oooh, I definitely have to factor in a visit here. Clapham isn't entirely handy to me but it sounds like it would be worth a trip. Thanks!

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  7. That sounds brilliant! I wish I lived near a shop like that. Your zero waste posts are giving me so much inspiration.

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  8. I loved the design of the shop too! So I can understand the shop-crush. ;) I'd love to do my shopping there but it was quite a faff to get to (took me over an hour to get to, and I wondered how much the train/bus journey un-did the good I did by buying package-free). I really wish there were a good bulk store near me... I'm very interested to see how this is going for you since I'd also like to reduce waste too. Last Sunday I managed to do a zero waste shop for the week at the farmer's market and a local greengrocers. Although this primarily worked because I didn't buy any grains or pulses and just used stuff from my cupboard, ha.

    I'm intrigued by Who Gives a Crap loo roll, I keep seeing it everywhere! So do they sell it by the single roll at Hetu? I came across their site and was interested in trying it, but didn't want to come to a box of 24 or 48 rolls. I've been buying Ecoleaf lately (which I can find at the health food shop or the People's Supermarket), which is made of recycled fibres in the UK; it's wrapped in a plastic-like substance that's apparently biodegradable (it's made of potato starch or something?). I like that it's made in the UK and of recycled fibres from the UK.

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