The Dispensary in Walkden is helping families across Salford to reduce their waste this spooky season with the introduction of its Halloween Clothes Swap initiative.
Fay Watts, founder of zero-waste shop The Dispensary, decided to add this seasonal extra to her shop following an earlier success at a clothes swapping event.
Fay said: “Last month we did a big clothes swap, I think we had about 50 people and everyone swapped and it was amazing and it went down so well that we had the idea that we should do it again with Halloween costumes.
“Now we have a rail outside and people just come along and they say ‘we’ve’ got some clothes’ and some want to swap them and some want to donate them.
“They pop it on the rail and then they just pick another costume that they want and then there are people who don’t have anything to swap but they want something and they normally just come in and give us a pound for the food bank that we collect for in Little Hulton.”
The former teacher reflected on her love for parties and seasonal traditions, but recognised the importance of trying to help tie it in with her zero-waste, ethically sourced lifestyle.
Having opened the shop located in Walkden centre in 2019, Fay has been on a mission to help educate Salford residents about the climate crisis and how adopting a different way of life can be impactful and beneficial not only for the planet and the wider community, but for the individual themselves.
Fay spoke about her decision to set up The Dispensary following a stage of internal conflict she was suffering whilst working as a teacher.
She said: “I was very passionate about the climate crisis and trying to educate the kids at school and I was getting there but I was dripping it, dripping it, dripping it to them and then it got to the point where I thought I’m not doing enough here and it got to the point where I had climate anxiety and I was panicking thinking why can nobody else see what’s going on.
“I thought I’m just going to open my own shop, I know it sounds a weird thing but it was the summer holidays and I thought I’m just gonna open a shop.”
She added: “I didn’t have loads of money or anything, just took a few grand out of the mortgage on my house, bought a tiny bit of stock and then just kind of re-invested, re-invested, re-invested.”
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Fay spoke about the many refillable options available to customers who visit her at the shop.
She said: “We stock refillable cleaning products, toiletries, pasta, vegan sweets, herbs and spices.
“We try and offer most things you can get in a big supermarket.”
For the customer, the experience is quite an interactive one as they are invited to bring their own containers to collect product from the shelves in a similar style to a pick and mix sweet stand.
As part of her mission to build a customer base and wider knowledge across the Salford community, Fay believes it is important to first educate customers on zero waste and how by them shopping at The Dispensary it will help to create a positive impact within the planet.
Fay said: “I think the idea of zero waste is still quite niche, that’s why I wanted to open here in Walkden because everyone was like ‘go to Chorlton, go to Didsbury’ and I’m like ‘yeah sure, go to gentrified areas’.
“I don’t want to sing to the choir, I want to try and show people we can all do this and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
“It’s about a change in mindset.”
Fay acknowledged the imitations within her business, recognising the lack of convenience her store offers in comparison to leading supermarkets.
She said: “Our main hurdle at the moment is that it’s not convenient, you can’t say it is convenient like your in Aldi you see some washing up liquid and you’re like ‘I’ll just grab that’
“Obviously it’s more effort to think ‘I’ll go home I’ll get my container and I’ll go to the refill shop’ so that’s what we’re up against but people choose it as an ethical option.
“They know it’s not as convenient, it’ll take a bit more time but they do choose it.”