The People’s Pantry is a delivery service based in Muswell Hill, North London. Lisa Jones set up the business in July with her husband Stephen Thomas. Their goal was to make plastic reduction as achievable as possible and put the community back into shopping.
The People’s Pantry is an eco-enterprise selling packaging-free home and larder essentials from the back of a repurposed, vintage milk float .
The refill shop operates in two ways.
Either by ‘Ernie’, the restored 1973 milk float, that brings the store to your door and can also be booked online by neighbours or community venues.
Or by ‘Eric’ the repurposed ex-Royal Mail bike for the online orders. Simply you leave out your empties on your next delivery day for sanitising and refilling.
UK supermarkets create 900,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year, of which less than 10% is recycled. Consequently, reducing single-use plastic is a potent starting point and one within everyone’s reach.
“As consumers, we have immense power to effect change by the choices we make in what, where and how we shop,” Lisa continues. “And The People’s Pantry is all about facilitating that by making packaging-free shopping local, easy and convenient.”
Spotting a crumbling 1970s milk float on eBay was the catalyst, and ‘Ernie’ the float was painstakingly restored and converted into a zero-waste shop.
‘Ernie’ was kitted out with banks of refill dispensers. It carries around 130 products across food, oat milk, bathroom and eco-cleaner essentials, all sourced by sustainability credentials.
The People’s Pantry work with an impressive array of sustainable and eco-friendly suppliers. Wherever possible, they look to support specialist independent and local producers. Also, those on a mission to improve communities, working and production practices and their own carbon footprint. You can find out more about The People’s Pantry suppliers here: https://thepeoplespantry.biz/tpp-12/
With that focus on ‘ease and convenience’, ‘Ernie’ is booked for street visits by groups of neighbours. They then turn out with their empty containers to fill up and catch up. ‘Ernie’, the restored 1973 milk float, helps create a sociable, community ‘slow shopping’ event.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Lisa, The People’s Pantry co-founder. “So many people have been looking for do-able solutions to living more sustainably, and the fact that we bring a bit of fun and nostalgia and an old school sociable element back to shopping seems to really chime.”
A doorstep delivery service is available for those who are working or can’t leave the house.
The online orders are delivered in reusable glass containers, which are then collected, sanitised and returned to the closed-loop system.
“Such is the climate crisis, that it is about ‘reduce and reuse’ now,” says Lisa “ ’Recycle’ is a last resort. But it’s not a new concept – we are essentially replicating the historical model of the milkman.”
Historic maybe, but it looks very much like this could be the future of shopping.
To find more about The People’s Pantry, make an order or invite them to come to your London neighbourhood visit thepeoplespantry.biz
Stats sources: Companies House via https://www.tylbynatwest.com/year-of-the-startup
Images courtesy: Lisa Jones & Stephen Thomas, The People’s Pantry
Credit: Julie Kime