Earth Friendly Rocker: Plastic Free Shop. Part 1
This blog is the second in the series of ‘Plastic free Manchester: Meet the shop owners’ interviews. Previously, I spoke to Abbie from Plentiful. You can read that blog here to find out more about Plentiful, plus why I decided to start this series.
In this blog I’ll be speaking to Lauren, owner of Earth Friendly Rocker, located in Afflecks in the centre of Manchester. Based in the Northern Quarter, Afflecks was first opened in 1982. A key part of Manchester’s history, it is a mecca for alternative culture and independent businesses. For anyone who hasn’t been, it’s well worth checking out! Earth Friendly Rocker is based on the third floor of Afflecks and stocks a variety of plastic free, eco-friendly products…
Earth Friendly Rocker tote bags!
Tell us about Earth Friendly Rocker…
Alongside Earth Friendly Rocker, I work in the rock industry putting on gigs and supporting rock artists to grow their businesses, as well as having my own radio show. I’m known as the Rock Fairy in the industry. Earth Friendly Rocker started as a project as part of work I do as The Rock Fairy back in 2019 and got a bit out of hand! I started it initially as a project to raise awareness about the impact the music industry was having on the planet, as the amount of waste in the industry is insane – water bottles backstage etc. I thought stocking a few earth friendly products online would help with the project. I did my first pop-up shop in April 2019, then was asked to do another in Manchester City centre in June. This went way better than I could’ve imagined, so I took the plunge and opened a unit in Hatch on Oxford Road not long after. Things were quite tough for me down there as I don’t think I quite found my tribe so I was fortunate enough to be able to move to Afflecks from there (Bruntwood own both Hatch and Afflecks). I spent a lot of time in Afflecks growing up, so it’s a very strange but wonderful twist of fate that I’ve ended up here. I’m Afflecks’ first zero waste shop which is something I’m really proud of!
My motto is that “rocking out shouldn’t cost the earth”. I stock earth friendly products with, what I feel, have a rock and roll vibe, plus everyday essentials like bamboo toothbrushes, deodorant, skincare etc. I also have a liquid refillery, a period bar, an apothecary and vegan pick and mix sweets too. The brands I stock are UK based and independent. I try to make everything as affordable as possible to ensure earth friendly living is accessible for all. I also offer something called ClearPay on my website, which means you can pay for things in installments without a credit check. I keep an eye on things on that front as I want to make sure that I’m lending responsibly. However, sometimes the initial outlay for things that will save you money in the long run, such as safety razors and reusable period products, is a barrier to those on low incomes. I want to support people in making these sorts of changes in their lives as much as I can, regardless of their income.
Vegan Pick’n’Mix sweets
I plant a tree for every sale, which is my way of giving back to the planet. I also have a toiletry amnesty where folks can drop off their unused/unopened toiletries to be given to Emmeline’s Pantry, an amazing women only food bank in Manchester.
What made you open the store?
I started finding out more about living an earth friendly lifestyle when my friend Rachael opened an eco hair salon. It’s vegan and zero waste so naturally we had lots of conversations about those things when having my hair done. My local council reduced their bin collections to every 3 weeks and I was really struggling with bin bags knocking around. After chats with Rachael, I started being baffled as to how I was creating so much waste as a single person household, so set about doing a bin audit. This was quite shocking in itself as the amount of stuff I was just chucking away was criminal! I began making more of an effort with recycling and started researching alternatives to the products which had a lot of packaging. Slowly but surely my non-recyclable waste had reduced massively, as has the amount of stuff I need to recycle as I’d switched to package free for a lot of things too.
The main thing I noticed in this process was the lack of physical places to buy the sorts of products I wanted. I was having to order from lots of different places online, which was not only costing me more in postage, but increasing my carbon footprint too. Not to mention that as a rocker, a lot of these products weren’t overly appealing to me. Everything was sort of beige. I know some folk love that natural aesthetic, but I love quirky things! It’s entirely selfish really, I wanted to create a shop I could walk into and buy everything I need, stuff that appealed to me. I’m not going to lie, I’m totally my ideal customer!
Just some of the products in Earth Friendly Rocker
If you could choose your 3 favourite products from the store what would they be and why?
I’m not sure I can pick 3 but here are my favourites today – they change regularly!
Bottled baking mixes from The Bottled Baking Co (please don’t ask me to choose my favourite flavour!). They are everything you need to make the most delicious cakes, brownies and cookies all in a lovely glass bottle. They make great gifts and you can reuse the bottle afterwards. I’ve got some I use as vases and they’re great for refilling with dried goods too.
The Ginger Solstice scented candle from Run With Wolves. It smells like cake. I can’t even describe how amazing that candle is! Run With Wolves are a fully vegan independent business and all the candles are made with soy wax and natural ingredients, rather than artificial fragrances.
Reusable pads from Honour Your Flow. These are reusable period pads and they’ve changed my life. I always suffered with painful, heavy periods. Since changing to these pads, I’ve found I cramp way less and my periods are much more bearable, so there’s definitely some truth in the narrative that disposable period products are not only bad for our planet but also your body too. There’s no other explanation for such a drastic change in my periods since I switched! They sound grim but you get used to using them in no time, you just chuck them in the wash when you’re done. They come in the prettiest colours and are super comfy too.
Thanks so much to Lauren for taking part in this series. Earth Friendly Rocker also has an online store, check it out now. Part 2 of the interview coming next week…