The Dispensary, which is widely regarded as Salford’s first zero waste shop, hosted its very first clothes swapping event over the weekend helping to promote sustainable shopping habits.

With the environmental impact mankind is having on the planet becoming an increasingly discussed topic and experts warning there is roughly only 12 years before permanent damage is done to the Earth, finding new, Eco-friendly, ways to live our lives have never been more sort after.

The Dispensary invites its shoppers to use their refill stations which provides everything from pasta to cornflakes (credit: Faye Watts)

One great way to help shrink your carbon footprint is by shopping more sustainably, because a big problem in today’s consumer world is the plastic and non-recyclable material that our clothes, accessories and even our food are wrapped/packaged in that cannot be reused.

Recently, to help combat this problem, there has been a sudden surge in the development of sustainable goods and products that do not cause any to the planet as a whole. So much so, there are now dedicated shops that aim to generate zero waste when it comes to the products they sell. And now Salford has one of its own, too!

Fay Watts, 35, has run the Salford Dispensary in Walkden since its opening in late 2019 and after surviving three national lockdowns, she’s finally ready to get back to bringing the people of Salford a more sustainable shopping alternative, she said:

“We’ve opened up in Walkden in the town centre to try and be more accessible… these refill shops open in gentrified areas and yeah it’s great like going to Chorlton or Didsbury or somewhere like that but we were trying to make it accessible.”

Watts explained that her shop sells everything from vegan sweets to fragrances but shoppers can also expect to find the essentials the likes of Tesco or Sainsbury’s have to offer, just minus the non-reusable packaging.

As well as clothes, other goods such as plants and books are also on offer at the swap (credit: The Salford Dispensary)

But now Watts’ homegrown shop has kick-started it’s latest sustainable shopping initiative: a clothes shop swap. She explained that the rise of fast fashion has had a terrible impact on the planet as a whole and the big brands must work on being more Eco-conscious.

“Whenever I pick something up and think “wow that’s one quid?” I think how on Earth can a t-shirt be £1 like, who has payed for that  and what’s gone wrong in that (production) process to make that a pound for me?”

The clothes swapping event encourages shoppers to bring their own clothing instore in exchange for shopping tokens that they can then use to purchase their own “new 2 U” clothing items.

She explained that the idea for the the shop to put on a clothes swap had been in the pipeline for a long time, especially after visiting some other clothes swaps held by friends of friends. And when it came to this years Second Hand September, she had the perfect excuse to do it.

“It was Second Hand September and we’d wanted to do a clothes swap for a while… since my first clothes swap, I’ve kind of complete changed my opinion on fashion.”

While she understands that some people cannot go out of their way to shop at a sustainable retailer because they may not be able to afford it and fast/cheap clothing is a necessity, but rather than that Watts wants to fight those who can afford to spend a little more to help save the planet. It’s the convenience of the fast fashion that the Dispensary wants to tackle.

“I do understand that it is hard, it’s not a simple thing, it’s not and easy thing and it does have elements of stress that come with it, but you just have to acknowledge it.”

“The struggle and the mission and the plight is all much bigger than us and our shop, it’s a change in mindset and it’s massive”.

With the recent swapping event proving to be a great hit, we can only hope that other retailers in the area can take a leaf out of the Dispensary’s book and become just a bit more sustainable for the good of Salford and the wider planet as a whole.

Fay Watts’ Salford Dispensary can be found at the Ellsmere Centre in Walkden.


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