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'Ethical Ernie' zero waste and vegan shop opens in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 16:04 20 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:41 21 May 2019

Graham Rutherford, owner Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Graham Rutherford, owner Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

If you're visiting Ethical Ernie's don't leave your shopping bags at home - Norwich's newest store asks customers to bring their own containers but it is all for the good of the planet.

Nuts and pulses on offer at  Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella WilkinsonNuts and pulses on offer at Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

From dried pasta to flour, rice, pulses and nuts to spices, oils and even tea, you can buy it by either 100g or for some smaller items, by the 10g. All you need to do is take your own jar along, fill up at the dispenser much like an old-fashioned sweet store, weigh it on the scales and pay.

Fear not though some paper bags are available if you forget your bags.

All items are also vegan and along with consumables the shop also stocks shampoo, conditioners and household cleaning products which are all chemical-free as well as items such as plastic-free cotton buds, greetings cards made from recycled paper and reusable cotton face wipes.

The shop, the brainchild of Graham Rutherford, who used to work making Booja-Booja chocolates, and partner Laura Colman, a counsellor, is bucking the trend in that many retailers are choosing to close high street outlets to go online-only. However, this couple started online but did so well, they decided to go into the high street, opening for the first time last week.

Loose nuts on sale at Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella WilkinsonLoose nuts on sale at Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

"We're both vegan and we just found it hard to find items so we started sourcing items ourselves and then selling them on market stalls. We raised £8,400 from crowdfunding to open. We just went for it, we think there is a market for this. It's difficult to buy dried goods online so we thought we would open a shop."

The new store, which has opened in what was formerly the Little Shop of Vegans at 137-139, Magdalen Street, also stocks Yare Valley oils, available to be poured into your own jars and a popular purchase so far has been the different flavours of vegan fudge. Vegan 'pic 'n' mix' is coming as is the ability to make your own varieties of milk using almonds or cashews in the shop. But there are also all kinds of other items from soy waxed food wraps to paper snack and sandwich bags and toothbrushes made using bamboo for the handles and bristles from castor oil.

However, if you are looking for 'Ethical Ernie' himself prepare to be disappointed - he is a made-up character chosen simply because both Graham and Laura liked the name.

Graham Rutherford, owner Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella WilkinsonGraham Rutherford, owner Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

You may also want to watch:

Graham Rutherford, owner Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella WilkinsonGraham Rutherford, owner Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store opens on Magdalen street. Picture: Ella WilkinsonErnie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store opens on Magdalen street. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Graham Rutherford, owner Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella WilkinsonGraham Rutherford, owner Ernie's Zero Waste, a plastic free, container free, ethical food store. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

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