Meet the Eco-Friendly Mother and Daughter Who Run a 'Buy What You Need' Refill Shop in Tynemouth
Living North speaks to Jackie Sewell from Buy The Kilo, an eco-friendly ‘buy what you need’ refill shop that’s fighting to help alleviate both climate change and the cost of living crisis
Buy The Kilo can be found in Tynemouth metro station, on platform one. ‘It’s a cosy shop in a renovated retail unit,’ says Jackie, proud of her convenience store which is now 100 percent plastic-free. ‘My eldest daughter Rachael and I set the business up together, we have over 550 products, ranging from foodstuffs like flour, oils, and oat milk, to cleaning and hygiene products like shower gels and shampoos.’
It’s amazing how many items we consider to be single-use that actually have refillable alternatives, or items that we assume are plastic-free which actually use micro plastics like plastic-based adhesives. Buy The Kilo sell reusable cotton buds, face wipes, coffee filters and teabags – ‘lots of different things that a lot of people don’t realise have plastic in them,’ Jackie continues. ‘Tea bags were a big surprise to me at first, but the bags from big retailers do contain plastic-based glue.’
Looking after our environment is incentive enough to reduce our plastic use, but regardless of being eco-friendly, refill shops like Buy The Kilo can make great economic sense – especially when times are tough.
‘Because of the cost of living crisis, everyone is having to watch their money more than they used to,’ Jackie admits. ‘At Buy The Kilo, since everything is refillable, you can buy things at specific quantities. No one knows what the winter is going to bring, so we’ve always advocated for only buying what you need, not the set amounts you’re forced to buy in bigger shops,’ she explains. ‘Buy The Kilo is as much about managing your food waste as it is about reusability. For example, someone might buy a jar of spice for a specific recipe, use a teaspoon, then never use the rest because they only needed it for that one meal – then it goes out of date and in the bin. Overall you’ve paid for more than you needed to and that money is then lost.’
Buy The Kilo is deserving of the label ‘community shop’. It’s clear from the outset how much Jackie and Rachael genuinely care for their Tynemouth community. They put customers and planet before business, and that’s something they can be proud of.
‘We’re not great businesswomen, we always stop people from getting too carried away and buying too much at once,’ Jackie laughs. ‘We also donate our soon-to-be out of date food to a café in town, as well as recycle clothes by donating them to a great charity in Newcastle called Smart Works. We love promoting other charities in the area.’
Challenging everyone to try and make at least one room in their house plastic-free, Jackie thinks change is an incremental process that’s making our world a little bit better one step at a time.
‘I think we have to look at the way we all shop, which is so hard at the minute because people are worried about money,’ she admits. ‘But small steps can be taken in things like refilling everything in one room of your house at a time – soon enough when you become aware of how much money and waste you’ve saved, it becomes like a fun little challenge! You can then move on to more rooms until suddenly your whole house is plastic-free. That’s how I started!’