Something pretty huge has been fizzing away behind-the-scenes. It’s time for us to spill the beans... Introducing ‘Club Zero’ – a new sustainable way to shop. Your fave pantry staples delivered to your door in returnable, refillable packaging. This is zero waste shopping with a difference.
Introducing Club Zero: the online zero waste shop
We’ve always challenged ourselves to use conscious packaging. We pioneered switching from Polystyrene to WoolCool, and have saved roughly 60,000,000 plastic bags by collecting our boxes to reuse. But that doesn’t mean the work on packaging is done.
Club Zero started with a lightbulb moment – what if we did away with single-use packaging altogether? We must remember that there are plenty of places where packaging is absolutely needed. For starters, keeping food fresh to prevent waste and preventing the contamination of allergens. But, where we can, we knew that the right thing to do was to cut out packaging waste altogether.
Enter Catherine, the brilliant bod behind Unpackaged. She started working on Unpackaged back in 2005 because “I wanted to be able to refill my packaging. I used to go to a local health food shop and fill up Ecover products and I remember coming home one day and looking at all of the single-use food packaging I had generated and thinking why can't I go to a shop and refill everything?” A great question – and one that Club Zero answers.
Club Zero was a huge leap for us. But it was a natural one. We were already collecting cardboard boxes every week – why not other packaging? So the idea for our VIPs (Very Important Pots) was born. Returnable pots designed to be reused time and time again. We admit, they aren’t easy on the eye. Which is exactly the point. We need these VIPs circulating around Club Zero because, as Catherine puts it, “the environmental benefits dramatically increase the more 'cycles' you put the pot through.”
One interesting challenge for Club Zero was choosing the material for our VIPs. “Plastic wasn’t our first choice (we would have preferred glass),” explains Stef, Head of Sustainability here at Veg HQ. “But given the fact that the VIPs need to be light enough to travel efficiently and be durable enough to make as many trips as possible we conceded that plastic was the best material for the job.” Plastic has a bad rep, and its misuse is a huge environmental challenge. But, when used responsibly, it can serve a sustainable purpose.
What makes Club Zero so sustainable?
Our goal with Club Zero is to cut out single-use packaging. How low can we go? It all starts with switching to buying large bulk portions of our pantry products. We then decant into our VIPs (Very Important Pots) to deliver to your door. Much like a zero waste shop, the bulk buying helps us to cut down the amount of single-use packaging used through the chain that gets your food from our makers to us to you.
And, for you Veg Heads, there’s no single-use packaging at all. Once you decant your organic goodies at home, we collect the VIPs to refill and reuse time and time again. Despite our best efforts to recycle and compost, often local authorities won’t have the infrastructure in place to dispose of our waste responsibly. That’s what makes Club Zero so innovative – we are cutting the packaging waste in your home right down to zero. As we reduce the waste we send to landfill, our environmental footprint treads that bit lighter.
Our delivery service also helps to keep that footprint light. Not just by taking that load off your hands (no more lugging heavy bags around!), but also through our sustainably delivery model. We carefully plan our routes to be as carbon-efficient as possible. We visit each area once a week, and incentivise our drivers to head out in the wee hours so there’s less time spent sitting in traffic. This is a huge improvement from many individual car trips to zero waste shops. Stephanie, one of our Club Zero heroes, describes the service as “a God send for people like me who'd actually have to use extra time and fuel to get to a refill shop.” By doing all of the hard work for you, we hope that make the sustainable switch to Club Zero is as simple as can be.
How does Club Zero work?