Small Business Saturday Blog

Zero to hero in Nottingham

Wednesday, November 30 at 07:00

Sarah Maloy is passionate about empowering people to live life more sustainably. She set up her business, Shop Zero, a zero waste store based in Nottingham, because she was concerned about plastic pollution and waste and wanted to do something proactive to help.
Shop Zero has a brick and mortar store that offers plenty of eco-friendly alternatives for household goods, personal care items and even gifts, helping customers to reduce their plastic footprint. Local people can come to do their weekly shop, reusing their own containers to refill food, household and personal care detergents. Those further afield are welcome to shop online: Sarah ships orders nationwide using plastic-free packaging.
Sarah told us that her business is an extension of her life and her strong connection with nature: she grew up learning about the habitats of nearby Sherwood Forest. She originally started out managing sustainability projects, before working as a primary teacher after having children. However, the plastic pollution crisis shocked her into action. She started to research zero waste and soon realised that weren't any local options for plastic-free shopping. She set up a plastic-free food pop-up in early 2019.
Sarah thoroughly investigates the supply chain of her products to minimise waste and plastic wherever possible, and where possible, she works with closed loop suppliers such as SESI, Miniml and Fill, who take back their bulk containers for refill. She chooses suppliers who pay their employees a fair wage and guarantee good working conditions. She offers affordable organic options wherever possible, as they are better for the environment and for the people growing and consuming the products. She told us, “My ethos is to think like nature does and only have items in store that are truly biodegradable. All the packaging is recyclable or home compostable.” The store is mainly plant-based and completely cruelty-free. All products are eco-friendly and there are minimal petrochemical products.
She also enjoys opportunities to collaborate with other local sustainable businesses, and to stock products created by local sustainable makers. She regularly runs workshops and pop-ups in collaboration with local businesses, telling us, “Having been a teacher, community education and advocacy is embedded in my business. My business is customer-led and my aim is to inform and introduce ideas that will empower my community to further investigate options for change that suit them and families.”
Sarah is proud to be part of the Nottingham Independent scene, taking part in local markets like this Spring's Ay Up Market and linking in with local campaigns through the BID. She is also part of the inc.everyday movement in Nottingham, which champions shopping local.
She told us, “Shop Small run by Amex is brilliant for a small business like Shop Zero. We just love being part of this great initiative to showcase local independents and get people’s attention in such a positive way.”
What next for Shop Zero? Sarah told us that coming out of the pandemic and immediatelyt into a cost of living crisis has been hard for her business. Her ambition is to get bigger and better, to offer more sustainable choices, to collaborate further, to develop more community education and to offer more opportunities for makers to run pop-ups in her store.
Ultimately, her outlook is positive and she looks forward to serving the local community for years to come. “Shop Zero is about the community that surrounds it. It wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the people that choose to shop here.”
Visit Shop Zero at 42a Friar Lane, Nottingham, NG1 6DQ or shop online here. Click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.

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