The Story Behind the Brand
Hello. My name is Diana Szpotowicz and I'm the owner of The Weekly Shop.
In early 2018, I was working in a comfortable job in international development but I didn't feel like I was making any real impact towards the issues that mattered the most to me - climate change and the environment, people & societies and global development.
Stepping up and making a change
Ever since I had moved to London in 2014, I had always scoffed at the plastic that seemed to unnecessarily smother nearly every item of food found in the UK's large supermarket chains.
Having grown up in the beautiful city of Vancouver, Canada, where mountains, oceans and beaches hug a modern, environmentally-conscious metropolis, I'd seen plenty of examples of bulk food stores my entire life The bulk foods aisle is a staple in every large Canadian supermarket chain. A returnable deposit on plastic bottles had also existed for as long as I can remember.
In January, I wanted to do do something to make an impact outside my job. I began to write letter to companies, asking them to reduce or eliminate their single-use plastic packaging. I then decided to open an Instagram account that would document the company's responses. The account was meant to be a personal, fun project.
However, upon receiving responses that were mostly copy/pasted paragraphs full of PR jargon and irrelevant green-washing, I decided to go one step further.
We can actually do something about this
I quit my job, and the idea for The Weekly Shop was born with the belief that individuals and the collective power of social media could translate into mass purchasing power, with the message to demand real change from policymakers and polluting corporations to eliminate single-use plastic packaging.
Where are you located?
The Weekly Shop sells through its online shop as well as at various pop up shops and market stalls around London.
What's the wider purpose and vision for the brand?
VISION - To make the use of single-use plastic the next social taboo
MISSION - To introduce the mainstream customer in the UK to plastic-free alternatives and donate 10% of profits to fund environmental and development projects worldwide
The brand is a vehicle for making wider, society-wide behavioural changes that are kinder to the environment.
It's about making sure that anti-environmental choices become the latest 'social taboo'.
The way we - as consumers - choose to behave is an incredibly powerful force that has the power to shape our society.
If using a plastic-straw becomes as uncool as smoking indoors is today, the social pressure will one day completely eliminate any company from selling non-recyclable plastic or for any consumer to seek it. It's simply a manipulation of market demand and supply.
The Weekly Shop champions the pioneers who are currently adopting a plastic-free "zero waste" lifestyle. But it's not about buying a trendy piece of apparel. It's about signing up to do the hard work of steering society in the right direction, that will benefit generations to come.
We need to come together under a collective voice to get pro-environment policies passed in the UK.
I aim to use my own personal voice to work with other businesses, civic groups, influencers, governments and organisations to ensure sustainable development policies are put in place.
For example, I am currently a Community Leader as part of the Plastic Free Communities (Surfer's Against Sewage) campaign - and I'm working to get a minimum of 30 local businesses to go plastic free.
Why are you donating 10% of profits to environmental and development projects?
I envision this business as the route to making larger, society wide changes that help the average consumer make slow and steady changes to a more sustainable lifestyle.
However, I wanted to go one step further. With my background in international development, I have experience with managing projects and understanding what is needed to make effective improvements and I wanted to make sure The Weekly Shop can help to do make positive changes in the world.
Traditionally, most businesses have focused on one bottom line - profit. A sustainable business needs to focus on the triple bottom line approach - people, planet and profit - and that's what The Weekly Shop is aiming to do.
If you don't know what 'international development' really means, check out the UN's Sustainable Development Goals - which are 17 goals that governments, NGOs and organisations are working towards. They aren't the answer to everything, but they give you a pretty good idea of some of the improvements that need to be made worldwide.
The zero waste lifestyle seems difficult and expensive. Plus I'm turned off by 'angry vegans' and others who preach about their better lifestyles.
The first thing to realise is that it can take a while to switch over to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and that you should be kind to yourself in the meantime.
This is not a "you're either in or out" type of community that you're joining.
I think of it kind of like practising yoga or going on a diet. You’re not competing against anyone else. It’s really just yourself and your own habits and behaviours that you need to change. If you’re the kind of person who needs to cut everything out cold turkey and completely switch to a plastic-free lifestyle, then go for it. If you need to take baby steps to keep yourself interested in the challenge, then go for it.
At end of the day, the only judgement that matters comes from within yourself.
What matters is that unlike other lifestyles, which often only benefit yourself, going plastic free will not only benefit your future environment but everyone's future environment.
I want to reduce my plastic footprint. How do I begin?
To adopt a plastic free lifestyle, you need to use up all the plastic products in your life and as you slowly run out, you can begin to replace them with plastic-free options.
This might take a week for your supply of pasta. This might take months for your supply of shampoo. It might take more than a year for your household cleaner.
If you can just switch over one single item, that's okay too. Over the next few years a whole host of new products and items will be developed that will make it easier than ever to make the switch.
The nice bonus is that once you buy a couple of staples to get you going, you'll see the costs of your weekly shop go down - it's simply cheaper to buy in bulk and not have to pay for packaging and marketing!
But I don't just want to be a passive consumer. What else can I do to further the plastic-free movement?
We will have plenty of updates on how to get involved in various campaigns on our social media channels.