Earth Friendly Rocker: Plastic Free Shop. Part 2
This blog is the second in the series of ‘Plastic free Manchester: Meet the shop owners’ interviews.
1. What would you suggest is the easiest place to start for people on a budget, who are trying to reduce their waste?
Everyone is vastly different so what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, so I would 100% recommend starting with a bin audit to find out what you’re actually wasting. You can’t reduce your waste if you don’t know what you’re chucking away in the first place! I would recommend that for one week you keep a note of everything that you chuck away and as you throw it away, think about why you’re throwing it away too. Is it food that’s out of date? Why did it go out of date? Did you forget it was there? Is it a load of plastic wrapping that came with something you bought? That kind of thing.
Once you’ve kept your little diary, have a look at what you’re throwing away into your non recyclable bin first as that’s likely to be having the biggest impact on our planet. Once you’ve mastered that, you can move onto your recycling bins! There are some amazing resources to help you find alternatives to things and my DMs are always open for anyone too.
Don’t let anyone tell you what you need to do to reduce your waste, find out what works for you and that way you’re more likely to be able to make real, lasting changes that suit you and your lifestyle.
2. What’s your favourite thing about being based in Afflecks?
Definitely the people. Afflecks has always been a place for the lost and broken to come and celebrate who they are, free of judgement. I myself did that very thing as a bullied mosher in my teens struggling to find my place in the world, so I love the fact things have come full circle and I’m (hopefully) able to help people.
We have people of all walks of life visiting Afflecks and it’s just so unique in that respect. A lady recently visited who had not long come out as trans and was in her 50s. She’d lived her whole life as a man and finally felt able to live as her true self which is just amazing. She told me a lot of personal things about her life and it was really emotional. I helped her choose some makeup as she’d never worn it and she said she’d tried some of the big department stores but just felt like everyone was laughing at her as she didn’t really know what she was looking for which is so sad. I hope she left my shop feeling accepted and cared for, she certainly left with some lovely goodies!
I have trans men who visit my period bar as they feel more comfortable having conversations about periods and reusables without judgement than in a supermarket for example. I have lots of neurodiverse customers who I feel I can support as I’m neurodiverse myself (I live with ADHD) and try and make sure I cater to people as much as possible in that respect. I just don’t think you’d get the chance to have those sorts of conversations with someone in a bigger, more fast paced environment, focused on sales. I want people to leave my shop feeling like they’ve been really cared for, whether they’ve bought something or not. I have regular visitors who haven’t ever bought anything but come in for a chat. And I don’t mind that at all.
I also love that it’s a community of other shops. Since everything that has happened with the pandemic, there’s a real “we’re all in it together” sort of vibe and we’re trying to help each other survive. Being a small business owner can be really lonely so it’s nice to be able to chat to other people that are in the same boat as you.
3. Your store is dog-friendly and has a #PawsomePitstop at the entrance, perfect for all of the dog owners in Manchester! What products do you stock for dogs?
Quite a few! I’ve got natural dog treats which come in a handy tin, a zen spray to calm even the most stressed of doggos, dog shampoo bars, dog conditioner and home compostable poo bags. Everything is free from plastic and natural so your dog can be earth friendly too! The #PawesomePitstop gets a lot of attention and I always have fresh water out for dogs to have a well deserved break and rest whilst their humans go and treat themselves. Fun fact, the grass at the #PawesomePitstop was salvaged from a skip by a friend of mine.
4. What’s next for Earth Friendly Rocker?
I think survival is key at the moment with everything that’s going on. I can’t deny that it’s been a massive struggle to survive as I didn’t qualify for any meaningful government support due to how my business is structured and the fact I’m not in a stand alone business premises. I’ve had no funding and no savings or anything so it’s been super tough. But I’m still here and surviving! I refuse to give up. My shop means everything to me and I just want to grow it. I want to be the number one place for people from the alternative community to come and shop sustainably. I’d love to branch out into more food and I do have an ambition to release a cookbook too. Maybe one day there will be lots of little Earth Friendly Rockers round the country. Who knows! Watch this space though, I’m not going anywhere.
Due the recent announcement of a second lockdown in the UK, Earth Friendly Rocker's physical store is temporarily closed. They will be reopening in December 2020. You can still shop their great products online though - head over to their website to show them your support.