When Graham Sharp said he was opening up a plastic free food store as his first business, people asked why he wasn’t locating it in Glasgow’s West End.

“I said ‘there’s numerous reasons for that’,” laughs Graham. “But the main one being we live in Dennistoun and it’s something we wanted to see here in the East End.”

Open for the past four months, Zero Waste Market has grown steadily for the new greengrocer thanks to backing from the local community, both before and after its launch.

With their online crowdfunder backed by over 200 donators, in just 28 days Graham and his partner Lizzie Loman smashed their £6000 target by £1500, securing the new shop in Hillfoot Street.

It’s a big move away from retail clothing on Buchanan Street, where Graham plied his trade for the previous six years.

Replacing fold and stack with tare, fill and weigh, Graham and Lizzie have created a space where customers buy as little or as much as they need.

Whether it’s a couple of local farmers eggs or five kilos of pasta, every transaction is made with plastic taken out of the experience.

A shopping kit made up of glass jars, bottles and an assortment of mesh and canvas bags are available for every customer to get them started on their plastic free shopping journey.

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Vital to their ethos is partnerships with local suppliers in providing fresh, quality produce for their mix of customers, as Graham explains: “We receive some of our vegetables from Andy and Max at Greenheart Growers, who run a social enterprise allotment in Parkhead.

"It’s under a mile away, so as local as you can get.”

With the aim to keep their carbon footprint as low as possible, Graham adds: “Our lettuce comes from Andy and Max, which is particularly good as it’s hard to get lettuce that’s not in plastic wrapping anywhere.

"They pretty much pick it, deliver it… plastic not involved.”

From the shop's centre island, bread and baked goods are supplied by Freedom Bakery — another local social enterprise — which trains people with convictions in artisan baking.

With news of A Wee Bit Greener — the East End’s first plastic free store located near the Barras — having closed its doors in July after just eight months, Graham and Lizzie are conscious of the challenges they face in keeping their store sustainable.

In their corner is a year's know-how of running their Zero Waste Market stall selling eco friendly products, arming the couple with the market research they needed to make the leap from stall to shop.

In their first ever business venture, Graham admits they've been “overwhelmed” by the support they’ve received, not just from the local community but also returning customers living further afield.

In an affectionate nod to his local area, Graham says: "Dennistoun is quite a nosey community... that’s good as people come in and ask us about the shop.

"It's helped us dispel the myths of what they think the shop is. There was a lot of stigma perhaps of what we do and that the store isn’t affordable for everyone.

Graham adds: "Now for example a lot of older people who might be on a tight budget just pop in for a couple of eggs and a few carrots."


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On the shop’s doorstep, regular customers Natalia and Sinead have found value in buying produce from Zero Waste Market.

Natalia says: “We’re not totally plastic free but we like to do it whenever we can. I feel there are many simple things like pasta or rice that you just cannot get without plastic that is not recyclable.

Viewing the shop as a welcome addition to Dennistoun, Sinead says: “Before the store opened we always talked about going to the plastic free store on the Southside of the city but we never got around to it.”

Aside from the plastic free element, Natalia adds: “There’s so many good vegetables here as well and products like nutritional yeast and almond milk that are made in-store."

In terms of the future, demand for their homemade almond milk and peanut butter is just one of the plans Graham and Lizzie aim to expand, along with the potential for refillable soda bottles.

Still learning as he goes along, Graham admits: "We didn’t know if it was a good idea or not, but obviously when people come in and tell we doing a good thing, it's always great."