Zero waste pop up shop The Good Life Refill coming to Leighton Buzzard this weekend

A zero waste pop up shop is coming to Leighton Buzzard this weekend, before opening up permanently as a High Street store.
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'The Good Life Refill' will appear in AF Reid this Saturday and Sunday (May 22 and 23), offering shoppers the chance to reduce their impact on the environment and bring their own containers to buy products.

The eco-friendly shop will then officially open in the AF Reid building on June 12, with founder Heni Cloake hoping that the Leighton Buzzard community will support her new venture.

Heni, who grew up in the town, told the LBO: "I set up The Good Life Refill in May 2020. It's something I'd always wanted, but never had the confidence to do.

The Good Life RefillThe Good Life Refill
The Good Life Refill

"I've always been passionate about sustainability and trying to have a positive impact on the environment.

"I started out as a mobile business at markets - Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable, Winslow - it was the most accessible way to bring zero waste shopping to people.

"Leighton Buzzard has been incredible. The response has been so amazing!

"I always wanted to end up with a shop in my hometown, so when AF Reid became available, it seemed like the perfect opportunity."

The Good Life RefillThe Good Life Refill
The Good Life Refill

Tomorrow's pop up shop will offer dried fruits and nuts, seeds, breakfast cereals, pasta, rice, olive oil, sunflower oil, shampoo, conditioner, loose leaf tea, compostable dish washer sponges, and sustainable grocery bags.

Heni is supporting local businesses, too, with the shop featuring crafts from: Wombat’s Woodshop who use reclaimed wood to make chopping boards and other household items; Miss Greenfields who is a Leighton Buzzard local and has made natural dye tea towels; SoNatural, an Aylesbury company making natural cosmetics like deodorants; Kica Living, who create upcycled candles and homewares; and Ciara Callaghan, a local craft artist who has made some self-care herbal pillows

Heni's friend Zsuzsa Zicho will also be on hand to sell two delicious, filtered Columbian coffees from Blossom Coffee Roasters, and customers are invited to bring along their own cups.

Heni said: "I've met so many people who are just starting out on their zero waste journey or people who are so excited to have a zero waste shop in town.

The Good Life RefillThe Good Life Refill
The Good Life Refill

"Everyone is coming with good intentions and a desire to make the world a better place."

Heni's own business journey started when her father became ill with pancreatic cancer, and she moved back home to help.

She had previously been working in the documentary film industry, but her father's illness, from which he now has the all-clear, changed her perspective.

Heni remembered: "You end up thinking about what you want to be doing with your life. For me, it was all about connecting with with other people; sustainability; giving back to the earth.

"The best book I read was called 'Beat Cancer', which is about how food can reduce your risk of the illness. It's about going back to the basics, being able to slow down, and being able to cook basic meals from scratch again, with different grains and a wider variety of fibre. We encourage a plant-based diet. And the traceability of food from supermakets can be really hard - how can you guarantee something has been grown without pesticides?

"If he hadn't been ill, I wouldn't have taken the leap to open the shop."

Looking to the future, Heni has lots of plans up her sleeve for The Good Life Refill, including composting workshops and electrical repair assistance, as well as offering people a space to bring items that can be tricky to recycle, supporting allotment growers, and starting a veg box programme.

In the meantime, she can't wait to greet customers tomorrow on what is the one year anniversary of the business's registration - and because it's also her birthday!

Heni (who is 25 for now) concluded: "For the first 40 years of its life, the building was a grocery shop, and we will be respecting its history and keeping all its original features.

"The name? To be honest the sitcom was probably in the back of my mind because I grew up watching it.

"It was so hard to come up with a name for the store, but it's about reconnecting with food and the community. Refilling on a Good Life!"

The opening times for this weekend's pop up are: Saturday, May 22, 8.30am - 4pm; Sunday, May 23, 10am - 2pm.

The official opening date for the shop will be Saturday, June 12. More details to follow soon. Customers are advised to bring their own containers, but paper bags will be available.

Heni would like to thank the owners of AF Reid for allowing her to take on the space, Leighton Buzzard Market, and of course, her parents for all their support - for which she is "massively grateful".