Friday interview | The woman pioneering change in our region’s modern convenience culture
When Lauren Wedderburn started to make changes to minimise her plastic use, she realised that very few businesses offered a solution to help shoppers be more eco-friendly. So she set up Something Good...
By Laura Kingston
Tell us about Something Good…
We are a zero-waste, environmentally-friendly store on Jesmond Road in Newcastle. We offer shoppers all of their daily essentials – including cleaning products, toiletries and food – without the packaging. Customers bring in their empty jars, tubs and bags with exactly what they need – weigh it, pay for it and enjoy it!
We’ve heard you were an architect before opening the shop – that’s quite a shift! Can you tell us about your journey?
That’s right! I studied to be an architect at Newcastle University. I worked for five years before leaving to open Something Good. Since January 2019, I was working as an architect during the week and then selling my sustainable cleaning and self-care products at Tynemouth Market every weekend.
The idea really came from my own everyday life. With the increased profile of our global environmental issues from films like Blue Planet and the Extinction Rebellion march, I personally had been trying to be more sustainable – but it was hard! I had to do a lot of research to find the products and then pay for each delivery separately. At the time it just wasn’t accessible in Newcastle at all. So I had the idea of pulling it all together and Something Good was born.
I got the keys to my shop in September and we opened just a month after in October 2019. It’s fantastic because now I’m able to sell food products as well.
This is a new concept for a lot of people, so let’s do some myth-busting!
Firstly, how do you ensure food hygiene?
It’s important to get away from that old weigh house mentality where people used to just put their hands into bags and produce would sit at the bottom of a sack for too long. I’ve invested a lot in state-of-the-art equipment which is completely air-tight, ensures that the food circulates and ensures that the customers don’t touch the food at all. Everything is regulated by the Food Standards Agency too.
What about the cost? Is it cheaper to shop this way?
That’s a good question. For items like herbs and spices, it’s instantly cheaper because I can buy in bulk and pass that saving on to my customers. However, some people have commented that items like our reusable food wraps are expensive, for example the beeswax wraps are £20.00. But the quality is really high and they will be reusable for years – it’s changing your mindset that items are an investment and you only need to buy them once. When you consider cost per use, it will be more cost-effective than all of the rolls of tin foil and clingfilm that you would otherwise buy in that time.
And quality? Is there any compromise there?
Absolutely not. I refer to our products as ‘beautifully sustainable’. I’ve spent a lot of time building relationships with UK-based, family-run companies who supply me with gorgeous products.
Let’s talk re-fillable beauty – how does that work?
My supplier for shampoos, conditioners, body washes and hand soaps is a family-run company based in Anglesey. They smell incredible and are all palm oil free, vegan and never tested on animals. Our bars of soap are obviously sold as they come, although we do also sell a small bag that they can be put into which works as an exfoliator too. For the liquid products, customers just need to bring either their own packaging or they can buy a bottle from us. Use it, return, refill and enjoy.
Besides products, how else can we be more sustainable when it comes to beauty?
Again, it’s about investing a little bit more in quality products that you can re-use. We sell fabric facecloths and make-up remover pads which can just be washed rather than thrown away. Also, things like bamboo toothbrushes and metal razors are great because they last for ages and reduce plastic consumption.
Our mission is that we want it to be simple and affordable for anyone to make small, sustainable changes towards a low impact, low waste lifestyle. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to live and shop ethically.
265 Jesmond Road
(NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2019)
Monday – Thursday – 10.30 – 6.30
Friday – Saturday – 9.30 – 5.30
Sunday – 11.30 – 3.30