Continuing our series of interviews connecting with other organisations in Wales which share our core values of waste reduction, skill sharing and community cohesion, I was really pleased to catch up with Cath Richards who owns and manages Siop Sero C.I.C. in Rhiwbina. As a regular customer, I was especially keen to find out more about her not for profit initiative and what motivated her into setting up her lovely zero waste store:

“My background is in nutrition, and I have previously run health food stores. My partner, Chris, and I have always had a passion for the environment, waste reduction and environmentally friendly initiatives, trying to be as sustainable as possible. So, when we discovered that there was an empty shop in Rhiwbina, we were very excited as we thought we could combine our interests and set up an easily accessible zero waste shop for the community.

We share the same ethos as Repair Cafe Wales as one of our aims is to reduce landfill waste. Customers bring their own containers to the shop and can serve themselves, or we can help them to fill them up. If they forget their containers, we have a supply of clean, pre-used ones that they can have, or they can use our compostable paper bags. We sell everything from dried food and chocolates to toiletries and household cleaning products. It’s also very useful if customers just want to try something new, such as our oat milk, as they can take as little as they like, so this can help to reduce food waste.

Just like Repair Cafe Wales we are firm believers in closing the loop and use local suppliers where possible and companies that offer a closed loop system. Our toiletries and cleaning products are brought to us in containers which are then returned and used over and over by our suppliers.”

Skill sharing is another of Repair Cafe Wales’ core values as our visitors are invited to sit with their volunteer repairers to watch and discuss their repairs, enabling skills to be passed on. I wondered to what extent this was relevant to Siop Sero:

“Chris and I are always ready to help and advise our customers on how to reduce waste and avoid single-use plastic. We can give them advice on the easiest way to start their waste reduction journey. Many people are not aware that some teabags contain microplastics, so we raise awareness of this and have a wide selection of looseleaf tea to choose from. We also advise on environmentally friendly alternatives to harmful chemicals used in toiletries and household cleaners”.

It was clear from our conversation that community cohesion is also integral to Siop Sero, especially as Cath runs Repair Cafe Wales in Rhiwbina:

“It was important to us to be part of the community. Rhiwbina has a strong environmental focus, and we all support each other. Our Repair Café runs on the first Sunday of the month in conjunction with the Eco Team, which provide refreshments; Rhiwbina Against Plastic (RAP), which collects TerraCycle waste; and Bethyg, The Library of Things. Naomi from RAP and I have also spoken at the local WI about environmental issues. There are other local initiatives as well such as Keep Rhiwbina Tidy which does regular litter picks. We have raised money for Keep Rhiwbina Tidy to buy equipment, and as a thank you to any children that take part in the litter pick, we give them some ‘pic n mix’ from the shop. We also collaborate with Miss Tilly’s Community Café which assists disadvantaged young people to gain work experience. We have someone who comes to the shop once a week for a couple of hours and works along side me, which has been great.”

So, if you’ve been inspired and would like to find out more, have a look at Siop Sero’s Facebook page:

Rhiwbina Repair Café Wales is on the first Sunday of the month from 1.30pm – 4.30pm:

Join us next time to find out more about another Welsh organisation which shares our core values.

By Kath Jenkins