Fillup in Alton
Our article in February ‘It’s a Wrap’ focussed on packaging and the vast amount of waste that can be produced from packaging and postage/delivery.
Some will be aware that in Alton we now have a ‘Fillup’ shop (just opposite the Resurrection Furniture shop) where you take your own containers and fill them up so eliminating wasteful packaging. As well as starting to use it regularly, we thought that it would be interesting to interview its founder and owner, Louise Bagnall.
Tell us something about your personal background
I have lived in the Alton area all my life, growing up in Farnham and studying for A levels at Alton College. Having lived in both London and Cornwall, I have now been back living in Alton for the last 7 years and absolutely love being back in the area and bringing up my daughter here too. Professionally I have spent the last 10 years working in the events industry.
What inspired you to start Fillup?
When the pandemic struck, I was placed on furlough and with live events feeling particularly vulnerable I put my head to a business idea I had been working on over a couple of years. Living sustainably and being environmentally aware have always been important to me. I had visited Zero Waste Shops in other parts of the UK and realised that what they offer would give me the capability to convert my own household consumption to being as sustainable as possible, I just needed one local to me for it to make sense.
How do you decide what products to stock and how to source them?
There are so many fantastic products and initiatives out there now that starting off on a plastic free journey can be slightly overwhelming. One of my main incentives for Fillup is to take the leg work out of the process and offer a shop with tried, tested and researched products. I have started off by stocking products that I would consider household staples; everyday products and ingredients used by many. Fillup isn’t a specialist health food shop, although supplying raw ingredients rather than anything processed and packaged it is in many ways by default a shop selling healthy food! By offering goods packaging free my aim is to provide a convenient alternative to a supermarket shop, giving households the ability to make a big reduction to the amount of discarded waste accumulated through everyday consumption.
What you see as the benefits for individuals/the town/wider society?
We are facing a global environmental crisis and the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the issue with disposable PPE now included in the waste washing up on our shores and adding to landfill. We are incredibly lucky to live in a very beautiful part of the world and my hope is that Fillup offers our community an opportunity to minimise our contribution to this growing concern and stand and be counted as an area committed to steering our path towards a more sustainable future.
What are your impressions after your first few months?
It has been wonderful getting to know customers over the last four months and the response to the shop has been fantastic. It was really important to me that Fillup is somewhere that anyone feels they can walk through the door, it doesn’t take just one type of person to have an environmentally conscious mind. Changing consumer habits is for everybody and doesn’t mean it will cost more either. I price match Sainsburys with like for like products wherever possible and although it is probably one of the main challenges I face, it is usually more possible than not.
At Fillup you can find food and drink items, cleaning products and bathroom essentials available to be dispensed into your own containers (we have produce bags and a selection of jars too if needed).
Thank you very much Louise, it has been a pleasure to talk with you and we wish you all the best for the future.
Martyn & Sue Dell
On behalf of Eco Church