Continuing our series of interviews connecting with other organisations in Wales which share our core values of waste reduction, skill sharing and community cohesion, we are really excited to share our latest conversation with Little Green Refills.

We first covered this wonderful organisation in one of our monthly blogs, where we have been shining a light on other sustainable initiatives that share our ethos. Little Green Refills are based in Abergavenny, and have been doing some amazing things since we last caught up with them.

Speaking with Ellen, one of the co-founders of Little Green Refills, we asked what had inspired herself and Beth to create their super sustainable shop. Ellen explained that having taken time out to raise their children, both Beth and Ellen wanted to get back to work, but wanted a new challenge.

‘Little Green Refills came from a base desire to offer something to our community that allows people to shop locally in a more sustainable way.  We love where we live and the Abergavenny community is very proud of the town and the surrounding area.  We live in a beautiful place and want to look after it and encourage others to do the same.  We also have a wealth of very talented makers in the area, be it food producers, artists or crafters there is so much on offer.  We wanted to bring those offerings together in a place where people could shop ethically and sustainably for beautiful and locally produced items.  It’s easy to look at all the reports of the state of the planet and feel overwhelmed or disheartened, we think it’s common that people feel helpless.   We sincerely believe that we all take care of our own little patch of the earth, we can all make a big difference.’

Since we last covered Little Green Refills, we can see you have been busy opening your high street shop, how exciting! It’s clear to see that Little Green Refills share many of our core values here at Repair Café Wales, where we promote waste reduction, skill sharing and community cohesion. We would love to hear more about your approach to these values, and how you think having a permanent space in Abergavenny has allowed those core values to flourish.

‘Oh yes, it’s been a busy 18 months.  We took on the shop on Market Street in December 2020 and spent the winter lockdown renovating, decorating and setting up the shop, cafe and treatment and community room.  We opened our doors in February 2021, it was quite the undertaking and I think it’s fair to say that although it’s been a huge amount of hard work and an incredibly busy time, we have loved every minute. 

Obviously waste reduction is a huge part of what we do and why we do it.  Less packaging waste is the obvious one.  All our products are sold loose and we encourage customers to reuse containers they already have to fill.  This way of shopping means you can also only buy what you need, thus reducing food waste.  We choose suppliers that share our ethos and if we have any food waste from the cafe or shop, we utilise the Too Good to Go app which sees members of the community buy ‘Magic bags’ at a reduced rate.

We have a wonderful team here and are thoroughly enjoying the growing community that exists in the space.  We always wanted to be more than a shop, to have a warm and welcoming space where people can feel comfortable to try shopping in a new way without feeling intimidated.   We promote as much as possible the ethos of shopping locally; this includes our suppliers.  We are very proud to offer a wide selection of gifts and homewares that are locally produced and mainly by women.  Supporting women in business is really important to us.  Allowing women to be independent, creative and support their families in a way they choose is incredibly valuable to our society.

The Coffee house has allowed people to meet and relax whilst enjoying really great coffee, teas and delicious food that has been produced in a more sustainable and eco-conscious way using UK suppliers, vastly reduced amounts of packaging.  Hopefully  people get some new ideas of ways to use some of the many ingredients we stock in the shop.

There is also now a lovely group of practitioners using the treatment and therapy rooms and Yoga loft.  It is so lovely to see people coming in and making the most of all the aspects of the business, strengthening our relationships with each other, the environment and our own wellness.  The shop and all that it encompasses has given us a base to see all this grow and develop and we hope that it will continue to thrive, not only as a business but a real community hub.’

We think Little Green Refills has such an inspirational story, and are delighted to see the huge success it has become! So, if you’ve been inspired and would like to find out more, check out the Little Green Refills website here.