South Wales town gives the green light to new refill shop despite opening during the pandemic

Merthyr Tydfil town has zero time for plastic after newcomer store is welcomed by the community

Instructions wall at the Green Refill Shop to help support Merthyr town customers using the section.
The display wall at the refill section that provides clear instructions for customers of town to follow while refilling their glass jars and containers

The Green Refill shop opened its doors on 28 September in the Welsh valley town Merthyr Tydfil. The zero-waste store aims to cut the plastic habit of Welsh people and create an eco-friendly environment.  

Sian Bullen, the owner of the shop, said the start-up store in the town centre has begun to take off, following the slow start after opening during lockdown.

“The pandemic is putting people off coming out and doing their shopping. Now that lockdowns lifted, I’m hoping people will come and see what we’ve got,” she said.

Sian’s idea to open the store formulated during her one-hour journey to her previous refillable store based outside of her hometown Merthyr Tydfil, a journey that became 60 minutes too long for Sian to do a quick restock of groceries.

Going green in the Welsh valley

The people of Merthyr were at first reluctant to start shopping at the Green Refill Shop, “I think there’s a lot of fear around it,” said Sian, locals “didn’t realise” how “easy” it is to refill their containers. However, it takes a first refill for Sian’s customers to feel comfortable and eager to step towards a zero-waste lifestyle.  

In store customers can get their hands on a variety of products including fresh fruit and vegetables, glass-bottled milk, wooden toothbrushes and a selection of fresh vegan pastries.

I loved the fresh bakery! The loaf of onion sourdough didn’t last the journey home!

Rhiannon Jones, a customer at the Green Refill Shop

At the refill station, everything from shampoo to cleaning products are weighed and purchased. The prices of items in store “work out close to supermarket prices,” smiled Sian.

Another part of the store is the book swap corner, an area that captivates the essence of community in Merthyr added Sian, whose aim is to save the books becoming landfill.

Customers can purchase a fruit and veg’ box for delivery. The box consists of 12 unwrapped items for £12, feeding a couple for a week, explained Sian, another step towards a plastic-free environment.

The new Christmas stock has arrived at the shop, Sian’s favourite is the “wildflower card”, a festive greetings card that can be planted and blooms into wildflowers.

Fresh fruit and veg corner in the Green Refill Store promoting a plastic-free way of shopping. Alongside the image of the fresh fruit and veg, the delicious bakery image presents vegan treats for Merthyr town customers. The last image presents happy Merthyr Tydfil customers and their Green Refill Shop goodies before reaching the till
The fresh plastic-free fruit and veg section of the shop ready to be placed in customers’ baskets