Based in Walthamstow, Greener Habits is a store on a mission to reduce grocery packaging that ends up in landfill, to incineration and the ocean by making bulk food shopping easy and accessible to everyone. They take care to stock ethical brands who are putting the effort in to reduce waste and create sustainable products. Greener Habits is all about encouraging just that: greener habits. Small changes make a big difference. We spoke to Amber and Hannah all about the company, its ethos and its background.
1. Tell us about the beginnings of Greener Habits and the inspiration about the store.
Greener Habits came about when Hannah [Green Habits’ founder] had taken a trip to southeast Asia and found the beaches completely strewn with litter, specifically plastic waste that had likely found its way over there from countries like the U.K. She got stuck right in with trying to clear it, participating in beach cleanups and the like, before realising that, while absolutely a necessity, it wasn’t the solution. Whilst Hannah was already vegan and had implemented some small changes in her life, such as using a reusable bag and bottle, it dawned on her how bad the global packaging problem was and how her small changes were nowhere near enough.
After this realisation, she pledged to change her lifestyle, reduce plastic and single use waste in her life where possible and through this process, noticed that all she was doing was making simple changes that developed into habits, greener ones specifically!
However, it hasn’t always been easy to find alternatives that work, are effective or taste as good whilst being vegan and cruelty free. Thus began the journey of Greener Habits! Originally an online shop that catered to anyone trying to make planet friendly choices with occasional pop ups at markets and festivals, we now have a physical store in Walthamstow, East London with a wide range of low impact, vegan products, but we still do the occasional pop up at a market or festival!
2. What does sustainable living mean to you?
My views on this have changed and adapted many times over the years I’ve been working in sustainability. Initially it was primarily about plastic reduction, which, whilst still important, I realised is not the be all and end all when it comes to sustainability. For example, if buying pre-chopped frozen vegetables in a small plastic bag means someone will use it all, versus buying loose fresh vegetables but accidentally letting them go to waste because they forgot about them in the back of their fridge, to me that’s a more sustainable option as it reduces food waste which is a huge issue in our current system. Packaging needs to evolve of course, but nuance needs to be accounted for.
Currently, it means trying to look at the big picture of our system, what I can personally change or influence, weighing up locality, seasonality, durability in what I purchase, as well as weighing up wants vs needs. This helps me to reduce my desire to over-consume, so that I don’t needlessly feed into unnecessary supply and demand. I look at the longevity of what I buy, the likelihood I’ll still like it in x amount of time, how long it will serve the purpose (i.e am I buying this to just feel better now or will it continue to provide joy over time).
Sustainability also means understanding that the climate crisis will not be fixed at the hands of mine alone, so it involves petitioning MP’s in regards to better environmental policies and encouraging others to do the same. Finally, it means not beating myself up for small mistakes, or just for being a human being. If we feel terrible about every small thing that could be considered bad, that in itself isn’t a sustainable practice. Grace needs to be applied as, after all, 71% of global greenhouse gas emissions between 1988 and 2015 come from 100 fossil fuel producers alone.
3. How do you picture the future of Greener Habits?
My sincere hope is that Greener Habits will survive the economic turmoil in the near future and continue to provide people with not just eco grocery and household items, but a safe community space. I like to think that Greener Habits is somewhere that people come with the intention to reduce their environmental impact, but come out with a sense of comraderie as we exchange useful tips, stories, laughter and sometimes (very occasionally) even tears.
Working in the shop, you see snippets of people growing in their lives, getting promotions, travelling, starting families and you become a small part of that; it’s incredibly humbling. The people who shop with us aren’t just customers, they become friends who simply support us, whether that’s just refilling what they can, or helping us donate to local initiatives like food banks or community cafes. We’re extremely grateful for what we’ve achieved so far, and can only hope that we can continue to make a difference with our space.
4. What are three principal values that you champion as a store?
Community, sustainability and harm-reduction.
Engaging with and supporting our local community however we can, championing and supporting new sustainable practices in a wide variety of ways, and reducing harm to people, animals and the planet.
5. Lastly, which is your favourite H!P bar?
Mine is probably the Salted Caramel, so is Hannah’s, and Seb’s is the White Berry Crunch! Although I do have to give an honourable mention to the new Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffle Bites - I don’t even like peanut butter all that much and they are incredible!