Saturday, 20 February 2010
Wandering through the town centre today in Bury St Edmunds, I noticed that the health food and natural remedies store Holland & Barrett had finally moved from their side-street location into a prime hotspot in the Buttermarket, slap bang next to Marks & Spencer.
Despite being in a rush, I couldn't resist popping in to see what they had on offer and I'm glad I did, because as I browsed the shelves, I was delighted to see their brand new refill concept called "Fill and Go", which is a self-service facility for dried cereals as well as a fabulous range of olive oils and vinegars.
Empty bottles are available for customers to fill with their choice of olive oil and vinegar and customers are encouraged to return their empty bottles in exchange for a discount on their next purchase, which is brilliant news. Plastic containers are also provided for loose cereal products and fruits. And even though these are the more flimsy "disposable" type, there's no reason why they can't be returned for a top-up when empty.
However, Holland & Barrett has also introduced wider changes that will please the waste-free consumer, including the decision to become a plastic bag-free zone across all stores in the UK.
Having said goodbye to plastic bags, customers are now encouraged to use their own reusable bags each time they shop or to buy one of the store's bags-for-life, the profits of which go to The Large Blue butterfly project, a conservation programme to help reintroduce the Large Blue butterfly species back into the UK.
Isn't it amazing what you find out from just popping into a shop for a bit of a rece and the above examples are just some of the more obvious changes that are taking place in-store. Talking to the area manager today, subtle differences have been introduced too, with decisions to incorporate recycled plastic into Holland & Barrett's products as well as shrinking the size of labels and ensuring that all their consumer packaging is recyclable by 2012. The organisation's Plan-it-Green policy illustrates even more examples of sustainable operations elsewhere in the business from head office through to store management.
It really is encouraging to witness such changes on the high street and it is no surprise that with Holland & Barrett's history of ethical purchasing that they are one of the forerunners in the revolution to reduce waste.
I now hope that lots more high-street retailers - including national chains and independents - will continue to raise their game too. It would be great to think that what I saw today is a realistic glimpse of the future.