AFTER a year of setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic, Peebles is now home to a new refill shop.

Owner Emma Reid, who also runs the Super Store in the town, has spent the last 18 months working to bring The Dispensery to life.

And she now offers a range of produce for people looking to change how they shop and cut down on their single-use plastics.

Selling pasta, rice, flour and cleaning products without plastic packaging, The Dispensery is the kind of shop Emma has always wanted to open.

She said: “This has kind of been five years in the making.

“When I took on the Super Store my vision for that was that I would have package-free produce.

“This is attempt number three at having a refill shop but we got there in the end.”

She added: “My childhood memories are in Kelso. We had a wholefoods shop and you went in and scooped your flour and your oats and all that.

“Then at some point we all went a bit environmental health and hygiene mad.

“And we’ve come full circle again, we need to reduce our impact on the planet.

“A lot of these shops are called zero-waste, but I don’t really believe in that term because nothing is really zero-waste – stuff I order still comes in packaging.

“But we can certainly lower the impact we have if we encourage people to reuse what they have at home to get products.”

When visiting The Dispensery, shoppers can bring their own containers from home – jars, lunchboxes or clean takeaway tubs – or there are jars to buy in-store along with paper bags for smaller amounts.

The shop also sells eggs from Bonnington Farm; pies from Jarvis Pickle; cheeses from I. J. Mellis; and cleaning products from Miniml.

Shopping in places like The Dispensery isn’t only good for the planet, according to Emma.

She said: “I think from a food waste perspective, if you can come and take just what you need – somebody that lives on their own maybe doesn’t need 500 grams of rice – or if you’re on a low income, you can come and just get what you need for a meal. It covers those aspects as well.

“We’re all in a rush these days, we’re all working and sometimes it’s [shopping] one more thing we need to do.

“It’s reintroducing the art of slow shopping again – coming down and having a chat.”

Quoting Anne Marie Bonneau – a zero waste chef – Emma added: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions doing it imperfectly.”

She continued: “It’s not about shaming people, though. I’m a single mum and I work all day so sometimes the only shops open by the time I finish work are either mine or the supermarket.

“There’s stuff I have to buy in plastic, so I am not shaming people.

“If you can make one change, whether that’s going from a plastic toothbrush to a wooden toothbrush, or getting your pasta package free – it’s simple changes.”

Officially opening on August 26, Huia Takau who runs The Dispensery, said of the shop’s first week: “It’s been amazing. It’s a joy to work here.

“There’s been such a positive response.

“People are coming in to see what’s available, some have made stock suggestions which is great.”

‘Zero waste’ shopping has come about largely in response to the ongoing climate crisis.

Emma told us that although governments need to make the bigger changes, individuals have a role to play in helping the environment.

She added: “While we need our governments to sanction big businesses and corporations for polluting and overusing plastics, the consumer has the power to make small changes which collectively make an impact on our planet.”

The Dispensery can be found at 9 Bridgegate, Peebles, and is open from 5-7pm on Mondays; 9am-2pm Tuesday to Thursday (with additional opening from 5-7pm on Thursday evenings); 9am-1pm on Fridays; and from 10am-1pm on Saturdays.