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A guide to sustainable shopping in Camberwell

A guide to sustainable shopping in Camberwell

With shoppers looking to spend their dollars with environmentally friendly retailers, eateries and other traders, businesses in Camberwell are responding.

Camberwell businesses are taking action in a number of ways to reduce their environmental impact, such as banning plastic bags, emailing receipts, and promoting reusable coffee cups.

Consumer demand has driven many businesses to develop more sustainable operations, to help the environment and gain an edge on the competition.

A 2018 survey by Nielsen found that 81 per cent of global respondents, comprised largely of millennials, Gen Z and Gen X, felt strongly that companies should be contributing positively to the environment.

Package-free groceries

Shops like The Source Bulk Foods in Camberwell offer a no-waste shopping experience, where consumers can buy the exact amount of groceries they need and bring their purchases home in paper bags or their own containers.

“Back when we opened [in 2014], I think the number of people who were aware of packaging waste was a lot lower,” says Bec Corbett, co-owner of The Source Bulk Foods Camberwell.

“We do find our customers, especially more recently, are more aware of their plastic consumption and how much packaging that food products come in these days.”

Shoppers can also purchase package-free fruit and vegetables, as well as fresh meat and deli goods, from Camberwell Fresh Food Market, where most items are sold loose. All customers need to do is remember to bring their own bags and containers for these items.

Recycling pre-loved linen

Camberwell’s Sheridan Studio has a recycling program that collects pre-loved sheets and towels, and offers customers a 10 per cent discount off future purchases.

The country-wide program turns recovered household textiles into new products, reducing the number of old sheets and towels that end up in landfill.

Ditching single-use coffee cups

Cafes and restaurants in the Camberwell shopping precinct are also looking for ways to cut down waste, such as ditching plastic straws and composting food scraps.

Numerous cafes now encourage coffee drinkers to bring in a reusable cup for their caffeine fix, with some offering a discount for this.

For example, Little Pony Goes To Market offers customers a 30-cent discount on their coffee if they opt for their own cup over a disposable one.

A guide to sustainable shopping in Camberwell

Sustainable swaps

Soul Sisters Cafe made the switch from single-use plastic cutlery to BioPak options made from certified Birchwood. The wooden cutlery is compostable and will biodegrade without harming or polluting the environment.

Owner Sheli Ratcliff says that almost all of their take-away packaging is recyclable and environmentally friendly.

“Customers really appreciate it when they come in and see that we’re trying to do the right thing,” she says.

“From an environmental perspective, I think it’s something that we all need to do, even though it’s dearer for us.”

The cafe, which specialises in acai bowls, smoothies, juices, raw treats and more, also gives customers the option to bring their own bowl, cup, or other reusable container.

Offsetting energy use

Stores like Bike Gallery have taken big steps to offset their energy use and improve their environmental footprint by installing solar panels on the store’s roof.

Bike Gallery’s James Cameron says that the decision to install solar panels was due to their passion for sustainability and the fact that they have a great aspect on the roof, which will boost the panels’ electricity production.

Pre-loved clothing and goods

Buying vintage fashion and second-hand goods is a great way to shop sustainably, whether you plan to just reuse the item or upcycle it.

You can find pre-loved goods at Camberwell’s op shops, such as Salvos Stores, and a number of other fashion retailers.

Purchasing second-hand items not only supports charities and not-for-profit organisations, but also helps to keep unwanted items out of landfill.

Other ways to shop sustainably

If you’ve grown out of garments that you love, or would like them adjusted in any way to make them more wearable, there’s the option to get your clothes altered at Alter It to extend the life of your favourite pieces.

When it comes to fashion, it’s also important to be aware of the sustainable practices of businesses, so you can consciously choose to support those committed to reducing their environment impact. For example, Witchery’s aim is for every one of their garments to have at least one sustainable attribute by 2020.

The next time you head to the hairdressers, make it a sustainable salon visit. Ulms Hair in Camberwell offers a range of environmentally-friendly services including recycling of products used in salon, such as plastic bottles and packaging. Any leftover chemicals are recycled into water and used in construction and road works. Once their electronic tools reach the end of their life, they are broken down and valuable parts are repurposed. Cut off hair also supports charitable causes such as oil spill clean-up projects, local community gardens, and charitable wig making services.

Customers can drive sustainable change

While industry leadership is driving change, regulations are also important — just look at the plastic bag bans that recently came into force.

Most states and territories, except for New South Wales, introduced lightweight plastic bag bans that were in place by the end of 2019.

The Victorian ban includes compostable, degradable, and biodegradable plastics, and applies to retailers and suppliers of all sizes.

As many retailers try to reduce their environmental impact, Ms Corbett says it is important for customers to know that many businesses are limited by how suppliers make and transport their goods to stores.

“A lot of the time, the majority of waste comes from how businesses receive their products,” she says.

As the sustainability movement continues to gain momentum, it’s important to remember there is still a long way to go. But the main lesson is that customers can drive change on a wider level by supporting and shopping with businesses who are doing their bit for the environment.


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