Shopping without plastic

Information about businesses in and around Leighton Buzzard

Are you tired of putting the bin out for collection every week? Is your bin full of packaging waste?

Plastics are hard to recycle; generally they can only be downcycled, and even then can only be recycled a few times before ending up in landfill, and eventually, in the ground or in the oceans.

Plastics take a very long time to biodegrade; the non-renewable oil they contain may leach toxins into the ground, and eventually, into your food. So we need to reduce not only the amount of waste we send to landfill, but also the waste we recycle too. In particular, we need to avoid single-use plastics like drinks bottles, plastic bags, disposable cups, plastic straws and so on.

This has been a journey, changing our buying habits a little at a time, but for the year 2017-18 the UK managed to reduce the amount of waste it sent to landfill by a further 22%, increasing the amount it recycled by nearly 50%.

One of ways we can avoid packaging waste is by trying to avoid acquiring it in the first place. In Leighton Buzzard this is fairly easy to do for grocery and household items; here is a list of some of the shops that are happy to help. If you know of other, please do let us know:

  • Nature’s Harvest in North Street sell many unpackaged items – the range is constantly growing, so it’s best to visit regularly. They sell unpackaged soap and shampoo bars – the lavender and geranium one is great. it really leaves your hair clean!

Refills available at Nature’s Harvest

Although many of their food items are currently in plastic, the owner is actively investigating alternatives, and some items in their range are now sold in compostable packaging.

  • They also do refills for the Faith in Nature range of shower gels and shampoos etc., as well as refills of Ecover laundry and other products.

    • Oliver Adams bakers in the Market Square sell bread, cakes etc either in paper bags or into your own bag/container.

    • The Good Life Refill sell many food items into containers you bring yourself
    • Many of the stalls on the market are very happy to sell goods loose and let you use your own containers (ask them at the start of your purchase).
    Plastic-free veg stall

    Harris and Sons Fruit and Veg market stall on the south side of the High Street opposite Dillamores Furnishers on Tuesdays and Saturdays. They are happy to put fruit and veg directly into your own bags with no individual plastic or papers bags.Other market traders are also often happy to use your own containers, just ask them at the start of your purchase. It feels strange at first but you soon get used to it, and so do the traders.  number of local residents regularly do this, e.g. at the olive stall at the top of the High Street, at the Delisha samosa stall, one of the cake stalls and the fruit and veg stall near Boots are all happy to put their goods into your own containers. Sadiya at the Delisha samosa stall doesn’t use plastic containers. The fishmonger says he would be happy to do this too.

    The Farmers Market and Craft Markets are also a good place to ask. The Farmers Markets is the third Saturday of every month and the Craft Market is the fourth Saturday. More info on the  market website or  Facebook page.Mimic Gifts sells a range of vegan friendly bath products free from SLS and palm oil – many products can already be bought loose or in cardboard, with a discount if you bring the box back to refill, and the stallholder is working hard to remove or reduce plastic packaging and source alternatives for other products.

    • Morgan Pell Meats on the Farmers Market are happy for you to use your own containers. South Beds Friends of the Earth visited their farm where they let the hedges grow tall, and they have a number of wildflower areas.
    • Janet on the Farmers Market oilseed rape stall is happy to refill bottles or use your own empty jam jars.
    • Bucks Star Brewery on the Farmers Market will happily take back their glass eco-growlers and give you a discount on a full one.
    • Leighton Buzzard Brewing Company also sell refillable growlers which you can refill at the brewery on Grovebury Road.
    • The Honey Man asks you to return your empty jar for a discount off the next one.
    • A new venture launched mid-August – The Good Life Refill are at The Duke’s, Heath and Reach, every Friday afternoon (2-6 pm) from 14 August. They’re a mobile, zero-waste shop providing an eco-friendly shopping alternative to Leighton Buzzard and surrounding areas. Stock up on your cupboard staples and say goodbye to single use plastic! You can order online or come meet them at their pop-ups. They sell cereals and grains; beans and pulses; various types of flour, sugar and salt for baking; rice and pasta; and a selection of herbs and spices. More info on their Facebook page ( or their website (

    Other shops in the town where it’s easy to avoid plastic:

    • House of Coffee – Peacock Mews. This small coffee roasting shop is happy to grind coffee as required into your own container. One of our members started off by taking in a plastic lunch box but has since acquired lots of empty large Dowe Egberts coffee jars from a local sharing site, carefully wrapped in a tea towel to protect it in transit. It’s best to store the jar in the freezer to keep the coffee fresh. Fair trade options are usually available. A small discount is now offered to customers refilling their coffee bags or using their own containers. They also do excellent loose tea.
    • Selections on the High Street sell many hardware items loose, from replacement broom heads to individual screws. They also sell replacement gas canisters for SodaStream (as does Argos) which saves you buying using plastic bottles of fizzy water, and is also cheaper.
    • The Co-Op in Waterdell (off Brooklands Drive) has a daily delivery of Italian bread which can be bought loose.
    • Strattons Butchers (North Street end of Market Square) are happy to sell you meat without any single use plastic – ask them to weigh it onto their usual waxed paper sheets and transfer in to your own container.
    • The Little Buzzard Bakery on North Street are very happy for you to use your own bag for their freshly baked goods – but get there early as they often sell out!
    • Coffee: both Costa and Espresso Head offer a discount if you bring a reuseable mug. If you do end up with a takeaway coffee cup from another cafe, did you know that you can take them into Costa who will send them off to one of the 2 places in the UK that are able to recycle takeaway cups? The takeaway cups from Espresso Head can be composted.
    • Card Factory sell degradable confetti.
    • Waitrose stopped using single use plastic bags in 2018 – the bags they offer for fruit and veg are surprisingly strong and can be used to wrap smelly rubbish like fish bones (especially if you wrap them in newspaper first), You can also take your own containers to the meat and fish counter.
    • Morrisons will sell meat straight into your own containers.
    • The Party Shop on Market Square do sell paper straws now, but they’re wrapped in a plastic bag.

    Slightly further afield:

    • Model Farm on Hockliffe Road (just out of town past the garden centre) is a great place to buy free range eggs. Return the boxes for reuse when you next visit.
    • Pecks Farm shop (further out towards Hockliffe) deliver milk in returnable glass bottles. It costs a little more, but the additional cost can be offset with a little advance planning. The farm also sells a range of local produce, oil and vinegar refills and loose fruit and veg, including organic options.
    • Clipstone Dairy has a milk vending machine, and can sell you a bottle you can reuse, or you can take along your own bottle to fill.
    • Potash Nursery near Drayton Parslow is now selling perennials and herbs from the Hairy Pot Plant Company in biodegradable pots made of coir – you can either plant them straight in the ground, pot and all, or take them out of the pot and reuse it.