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Sustainable Hotspots - E8 + E9

Sustainable Hotspots - E8 + E9

All's Well

Tell us about yourself. 

I've been working at a restaurant called Tredwell's, Tredwells has been going for seven years. I've been there for six years. I started in the kitchen as a chef and then moved on to the reception, did the events there and then also became a manager. And then all of a sudden, a pandemic hits. And even as things opened back up, the business was very slow in Covent Garden. We relied on businesses, tourists and theatres and we lost all of those. There's not many people living in Covent Garden. So, I mean, to tell the owners decided that we want to do a pop up in a neighbourhood that would respond well to our ethos, which is being sustainable as we can be. Also...there wasn't much lockdown going on in Hackney at the time!

Yeah, Broadway Market was always chock-a-block. 

 

Exactly. So, yeah, we thought that here was the perfect place to do that. So and that's why we do this, to preserve the jobs that we had and for our own mental health and sanity. Then that's where we are, really. 

How did Hackney become your business home? 

So I've lived in Stoke Newington for a few years, I actually live in Finsbury Park now. Chantelle lives in Angel.

It's sort of like in the middle of East and we wanted to be in East or North. For me, I definitely always wanted to be in Hackney, for sure.

What is your favourite thing about the community? 

I mean, I don't think there's any other place in London like Hackney, like I've been in the city 11 years and I've lived all over the place and just so many different businesses, the food is amazing in Hackney. I just think you have the bars, the drinks, people's attitude to community sprit in Hackney and yeah, and the fact that you got like sort of amazing, beautiful buildings next, like crazy grungey places! There's just so many different communities...it's just a huge melting pot. The canal actually, that's my favourite thing about Hackney.

 

What changes have you seen in the community since opening? 

I think, yeah, it's been quite hard for us because we opened in October and we went straight into lockdown, but we did open as a shop. Yeah. So opened for five days, opened as the shop and takeaway, reopened in November for 10 days and back into lockdown 3. So in that time, though, I don't think it has changed that much, but we've got to know it a lot more. Yeah, I guess coming from a restaurant in Covent Garden, you don't really get to know the people around there because you get like constantly different people.There's not much spirit. But like here I've got the laundrette next door and the chicken shop on the other side. It's probably not where you woukd choose a resturaunt to be, but the guy in the laundrette helps me out all the time. Like borrowed his ladder yesterday, I sort of give him a coffee every morning and have a talk to the guy, and in the chicken shop, when they see me working here alone, they bring me food to the stalls. I just think the community has just such a great community feel.

Doing a bit of research, I see that you like to push a sustainable narrative, can you talk more about why you choose to do so? 

It's definitely a passionate of Chantelle's, I think growing up in New Zealand, where she's from, is quite a different sort of culture there because they're so far from everything else. You don't get strawberries in winter, but you do in the UK. So I think when she first came to England, she was a bit like, how come I can get anything I want in a supermarket, where is the seasonality? So, that's one side of it. It was eating with the seasons. The other thing that's a passion of ours is reducing waste. So when we opened this restaurant, we didn't want to buy anything. You didn't want to sort of put anything else into the world? Well, exactly. So and everything is either borrowed  or it's like the oven is on loan and the coffee machine is on loan, the tables and chairs are from a different restaurant that we bought from them. So, everything that you can see apart from the plants is secondhand, like, that's very important to us.  We just saw some things that were going to waste, like food waste in a restuarant is usually quite high, and we wanted to tackle that and then we just sort of got a bit passionate for it and didn't stop and just looked at everything that we did, really, and tried to be as eco friendly as we can be.

 

What is a hard part about running a sustainable business?

I think it's quite frustrating that sometimes it's more expensive to be sustainable, sometimes more expensive to get things fixed rather than just buy something new.

 And I think it's quite challenging, we set a challenge that we try to not buy anything for the bar apart from the spirits. What we do is we reuse things in the kitchen that would go to waste in cocktails. So, that's always quite an exciting challenge and again for the bar, something that is quite hard, is not using citrus because of lots of cocktails have it. We did actually find one farmer in the UK that does grow lemons and limes but they're not available until the autumn, being more seasonal also, I think it's hard, you know, trying to rethink classic things in a more sustainable way has been quite a challenge, but a good type of challenge. 

Yeah, definitely on the menu at the moment we've got kimchi bloody mary's. But, you know we use kimchi juice in the kitchen. we've also got a Rhubarb rose spirtz So any wine that would have gone off, they make it into a syrup and then use the rhubarb ends that they didn't need and make syrup out of them. You become very creative. 

How do you see All's Well progressing after the lockdown and COVID? 

It has done its job in terms of preserving our jobs. We employed four new people, so it's done a really good job at preserving jobs. But it is coming to an natural end at the end of August. It was just a public space, so we got it from a website called Appear Here, which is a great concept. It's a bit like Airbnb for shops and restaurants or if there's an empty space, you can rent it out. So, yes, the lease is up on that but we do want to do something in the new year and it will be more permanent. We'll be around Hackney again. I see it definitely developing, getting bigger. 

A couple of things that businesses can do to move towards a more sustainable model?

And I think, like, we change a rule of don't throw anything away. So, like jars and knickknacks, anything, we try and make a use for them. Nothing single use So I think you can always make something out of nothing. something broken - there's always a way to fix it to make something new. So I think save a lot of money business wise by using what you got, offering out and starting again.

We're telling suppliers that they have to that they can't give us plastic when they drop off items with cardboard boxes.

We take the food or the drinks, whatever, out of the cardboard box, and then they take it away so we make them reuse them, all the old crates and stuff like that.

So packaging is a really hard one.

What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone who's just starting their sustainability journey?

That's when I experiment with stuff and be creative, especially when it comes to food. You can eat most things that come to you. So we have a cauliflower dish, that sort of zero waste. So we roast the florets of the cauliflower like normal and then the stem, we pickle and the leaves, we deep fry and anything that, like, falls off. We puree it. So it's like completely zero waste. I think taking something to be like what happens if I pickle this and yeah, just doing osme experiments. I think another sort of point is that I'm not vegan and a lot of the team aren't vegan because usually people do that to help the environment. Yes, I would say if you don't want to cut out meat, what we do is use cuts or animals that people don't use as much. So when we have beef on the menu, what we do is we use a retired dairy cow. So usually when cows have done their milking, they get killed or we actually have veal dumplings on the menu and the veal when it's born from dairy cows because there's no use for male dairy cows, they don't exist. They just kill them straight away. We found a farm that rear the veal and kill them for food.

We cod cheeks on the menu at the moment. So whenever you kill a cod, it, usually the head that goes to waste but actually there's really good fish nuggets in the cod cheeks. I think it's just finding things that are being wasted and adding them to your diet. Like, just take care of the things that you've got so that you don't have to throw things away in your fridge, but just make sure that your food is sealed and putaway properly, so it doesn't spoil, ferment things that are about to go off, that's a fun thing to do if we've got, like, extra cabbage. We will ferment it if we're not gonna eat it straightaway then we can use it on the menu later.

Oh, I do quite like my meats, so I really like our lamb ribs, you never see those on menus because it's usually a part of lamb that goes to waste. You usually see pork ribs.

 

Bulk Market

First and foremost, could you tell me about Bulk Market and how it came to be?

So, in 2017, we were the first zero waste shop to open in London - I started by myself because I couldn't find anything like this at the time. There were no zero waste shops in London. I think there was just one in Devon. There were like a few places that you could refill cleaning products and stuff like that. There wasn't really a supermarket or a shop dedicated to this. I was finding it very difficult to do my shopping this way because all the places, they weren't very accommodating or they didn't have the bring your own container policy in place.

I was going to supermarkets asking for them if I could use my own container and they would say no because of health and safety, which is rubbish! I mean, it's just because they don't want to be liable for dirty containers...they didn't have training for their staff to help people around the place to shop in this way.

It wasn't very encouraging because every time I was trying to buy things in a different way, it wasn't their way and they would tell me off. I'd feel bad. Feeling punished for trying to be sustainable. I went to Whole Foods in South Kensington, it was one of the biggest places where I could refill things and then they got the security to tell me that I couldn't use my containers.

I mean, they thought that I was stealing because I was using containers and putting stuff in my containers and I got embarrassed.

All these bad experiences, I felt like, you know, nobody's doing this. Why is nobody doing this? Clearly, there is demand for it. I wanted a one stop shop. I was very tired of going to many places and needing to refill bits here, bits there. In the supermarket, you can have all your shopping done, boom, you could go back home. So, I wanted that one stop shop. At that time there was nothing like that.

I started as a pop up in Dalston, we crowdfunded in 2018 and then we got this place. I  wanted to create a different kind of supermarket, not something that you import all the stuff, from far away.

So, when you go to supermarkets to buy some vegetables, rice and grains, everything comes from far away, from China, from South America, from Africa. I don't want to ship things from abroad and create all these carbon emissions. I wanted to be able to have a supermarket and focus on the community. I could support local food makers. I could support local farmers. I have the traceability because I know where they are. So, it's not just package free, plastic free, but the whole concept, I thought, was wrong really about where we buy our food from. Everything is wrapped in plastic. Everything has pesticides, Chemicals. It's made in slavery conditions. You know, like people don't earn a decent living wage. Everything is wrong around the system.  I wanted to create a system that would be equal, more sustainable without all the packaging, with traceability, with accountability. You know, knowing the suppliers, I know their faces, I know their names. So, I have to have a relationship with these people. I also meet the customer.

People are not also used to buying ingredients  oh, I need to buy the beans, but I need to soak them, oh it's just too much work. I don't want to do that. I just want to get like a microwavable meal, like they want convenience. Convenience comes with the packaging, comes with the chemicals, comes with like sodium, fats. It doesn't empower you because you don't know how to cook a meal from scratch. You don't know how to diversify your diet. You eat rubbish. You pay a lot of money for that. So, you could save money by buying ingredients. This is empowering. Learning how to cook, learning how to plan your meals, all of these things.

What is your favourite thing about the community?

I'm always learning about new stuff and different ways of doing things. I think it's like an exchange, as an example, we have a composting scheme. We were the first supermarket that was actually composting its own waste and opening this to people to bring their food waste to compost here. Then we collaborate with community gardens. So, there is one in Amhurst Road here, the Garden of Earthly Delights and we are donating compost to them. All the food waste from last year that we created here, like from things vegetables that we don't sell or veg that gets mouldy or bad, or sometimes we get deliveries of things that aren't in a good condition

All this food waste, we are composting in the garden that we just donate to community gardens so they can, you know, use it. This is not going to become something that's going to create greenhouse gases, it's going to be useful for people to grow their own food.

So, what changes have you seen in the local community since you opened in 2017?

I think the awareness of the food waste. People, they're so used to convenience foods and packaging telling you when you need to throw something away. They understand using their senses to judge if something's too good to eat or not, about seasonality. People ask about the avocados as an example and I say, oh, there was a gap season and hey were like, oh, I didn't know. I thought they would be available the whole year. 

So, people have more knowledge. They come here and we have chats and we talk to them. it's totally different from going to supermarkets, really..

 

Obviously the pandemic is still here, it's still present, but it was a lot worse around this time last year. So, how did 2020 affect your business?

Pretty badly because it changed people's habits.  I think it kind of turned everybody's routines upside down. People had a nice, casual Monday to Friday. Were going to the office. A lot of people, they were coming here because they were working in local offices but now the offices are closed. They went somewhere else to do their shopping. They weren't so close to us anymore, so it changed. People also had to move out of the area because they couldn't afford rent anymore because they were jobless. They were applying for benefits. So, it impacted the community, impacted us as a result. Brexit also had a big impact because a lot of things are imported from Europe and other places. We've has like a shortage of things, like we would order things and they wouldn't clear customs or it would be so much more expensive to buy them 

You know, we had an example, biscuits and chocolates coming from Belgium. Yeah. We stopped buying because it was so complicated to clear that through customs after Brexit, that it was impossible, the costs involved. The product would be so much more expensive that it wouldn't be worth stocking it. So everything was very hard.

The impact of Brexit and Covid was financial, economical. Although, we were very grateful that we still had  locals and our regulars coming on a weekly basis. They kept us going. We are very grateful for building this community. But it's still been challenging.

On that topic, what is the hardest thing in general of running a business in a sustainable way?

I think is because it is such a new thing so there are no systems in place, you need to create the systems and integrate everything from scratch. Working with other suppliers who aren't aligned with your ethos is difficult too. It is a little bit hard because it's not just like convincing people to buy this way, but also convincing suppliers and other stakeholders to work with you in this way.


What things can businesses do to move towards a more sustainable model?

It is a hard question. It's not easy. Is going to be an easy one and it's not a straight line, so it's not like, you know, everything has an impact. So it doesn't mean that something Is 100 percent sustainable and perfect. There's no perfect system being zero waste like I still buy stuff in plastic. Sometimes I don't live a plastic free life like 100 percent because it's impossible. I think not trying to strive for perfection, but trying to do the best you can with the tools you have and inspire people and create something pioneering that others can use as an example. I always wanted this shop to be an example, that this can be done because I know that is a small shop and can operate with a huge impact and we did that. We inspired a lot of people to do the same. And I think that's a big achievement.

Advice you'd give someone who's just starting on their sustainability journey?

Try baby steps.

Not being super like, no I have to nail this one hundred percent otherwise it'll be a complete failure. 

The best thing I would say is like check your own rubbish bin, see what you actually buy a lot. Let's say you have like all these crisp packets. So this is one thing you can tackle. You can see where you can refill crisps, we actually sell crisps here.

Spread Eagle

Tell us a bit about the Spread Eagle and when you first started?

So I mean, me, and Sherry, we've been friends for 20 years and we've been working together, maybe for the past 10 or 15 years, doing festival projects so we used to go and do kind of mobile bars and production on festival sites and enough to do enough for a number of years and realising, you know, we were getting a bit old to be like jumping around in a field

And so, yeah, we just thought it'd be a nice idea to open some bricks and mortar like. So we thought, yeah, why not? Let's do that. And then that was kind of like a drunk conversation at a festival, you know, a few months later we came back and this is my street. And then at the end of the street, the pub came on the market. We thought, oh, let's open a pub and let's make it somewhere fun that, you know, make all the vegan food and vegan drink and, you know, put on parties on a Saturday night and, you know, take down the football screens and be a bit alternative just do something that, you know, we feel passionate about.

So, has Homerton always been the place that you wanted to sort of open up somewhere?

I mean, it's just coincidental that at the pub end of the street was on the market, you know, we've got roots in East London, you know, go back 20 years for Sherry for 15 years. So it's you know, it's like we've seen the place change infinitely over time that we've been here. And, you know, I love this part of town and I really wouldn't want to live anywhere else. So, yeah, it's just, you know, it it's great that we get to live and work somewhere that we love to hang out. Yeah.

So what is your favourite thing about Homerton?

I love the diversity. I think I like the kind of clientele that we get coming in is so broad. You know, it's amazing just to see that mix of people. You know, you can stand at the bar on a Saturday night and just see the groups - well you can't stand at the bar but hopefully one day. So no, no, I just see the various different groups, people in the pub interact. And, you know, lots of regulars have been coming here for 50 years, longer than I've been alive. And, you know, there's groups of young kids coming up. It's amazing just to see the diversity here. And I well, we've been received by the locals has been brilliant.

Do you have any, like, friendly competition with the Adam and Eve?

In a way? No, I don't think we do, because their offerings are totally different to ours, if anything they compliment us. Yeah, yeah. We get on really well with them don't we. Like and like a lot of the team mix, like when they're off shift even go in there and drink and vice versa. It's all, you know, it's nice. And I think that's what works so well.

OK, cool. So why did you feel like you needed to sort of push like an alternative sort of sustainable narrative?

Because it just wasn't there? You know, the original kind of model of, you know what the public house has always been, you know, very male focussed. You know, the demographics are very defined and, you know, it's always been, you know, very sport focussed as well. And I just thought it was definitely an opportunity to open a business that was a bit more broad minded, a bit more forward thinking to try and bring. Yeah. And modern pub, basically. Yeah. And, you know, there are other pub doing interesting things. But, you know, we were the first vegan pub in London. First one to focus on sustainability, the first one to have a Minimum waste Kitchen, and which is very important to us, you know, the first thing we did was to get rid of the plastic and paper straws because obviously those can't be recycled. So we have some straws that we use for when we were making company that we've called the week company that are compostable

So, what is the sort of mindset behind running a business with a sustainable sort of outlook on things?

I mean, we're conscious about what we purchase. Obviously, I think the main challenge that we've had is confronting suppliers with the packaging that they use, particularly because, you know, single use plastics is not acceptable.

Yeah, but, you know, you buy you go and buy recyclable cartons or glass bottles.but it will come in plastic wrap. so the problem is changing, challenging the norm. But just like the distribution of, you know, wholesale distribution is really difficult for both in the food chain and in the drinks chains as well.

Yeah, I can imagine. Okay, so obviously you've been gone for your car as a business. How do you feel like this whole situation has affected your business and what have you been able to sort of take away from it about any. Well, obviously everyone's had a history of some sort of happy go

We're lucky in that and we've been really well supported by our patrons, as you know. Yeah. And and I think that public houses have had to completely turned themselves into basically a restaurant. we've always had table service for food, so it wasn't that difficult for us. You look at some of the traditional pubs where, you know, over the bar and give a number for your food. You take it and sit down. Yeah, but not everybody can be taking orders and having to take and giving ID checks and NHS track and trace app, you know, just crazy stuff like that. It's, you know, it's difficult and costly for uss and, you know, working at a third of capacity. You employ more staff and the staff have to like take on a whole new set of things as well.

for the last time. we were closed for about five months. And, you know, the staff have been in the park drinking pimms for the past five months with, you know, you know, retraining him on how to speak to people .

Yeah, I feel like we've got to sort of adapt. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Recalibrate your senses.

You know, it's nice. And I think, you know, people have had, as horrible as it's been, people have had time to take out reassess. You know, people started new careers And people have got to spend time with the family that they probably wouldn't have. You know, a lot of family can't take it away from with your grandparents. Yeah. Or whatever. Or, you know, if you've got young kids, for example, I think it's been quite challenging in a respect. I;ve got a two year old daughter has been amazing.

So what are all things that you feel like other businesses can do to sort of adopt towards a more sustainable model?

I mean, the biggest one is like single use plastics so you could look at it like straws or, you know, and take away cartons. You need to be recompostable take away cups and trays to make sure that it can be composted rather than going to landfill and lot of it from my point of view, is minimising waste. So looking at, you know, food kitchens generally can turn out a lot of waste and you need to be very clever. as to what you turn it into.

And so I think coffee grounds, for example. we turn those into vodka. One of the best selling dishes is Pie and Mash, like a traditional east end pie and mash with liquor. Yeah. We bake the potato to make the mash and we use the skin from the potatoes. we Then use as crackling for a sunday roast so we roast that off and put, like, spices in it to make it taste like crackling

What's your favourite thing on the menu?

At the minute, we've got an asparagus and jumbo salad, which is lovely, it's not very pubby, Well, yeah, it's delicious, The menu changes pretty much every every few weeks with the seasons. Yeah, yeah. Keep it up with fresh fruit available in this year. Be quite strange because, you know, we've had no real summer. until about a month ago. So, you know, everything's late. So we couldn't, you know, couldn't have anything with strawberries and courgette. We would've expected to have had gone on a couple months ago.I mean, that's the secret, you know. Yeah. Whatever you've got available, you know, make the most of it.

Are there any 2020/2021 goals for your business?

Twenty, twenty one goals trying to make that short term try and make some money to pay the bills, you know, what we missed iin the last 12 months and short to medium term, we'll be talking to another site, which will be a natural wine bar with small plates. And again same ethos, sustainable, minimal waste.

Advice you'd give to people just starting on a sustainability journey?

Research what you're using, yeah, to make sure you're aware of the implications of a lot of things appear to be sustainable and ecofriendly and labels themselves as that. Not necessarily is that the case. And look at what the customers demand, I think is the secret. Markets get led by demand so you've got to listen to the people.

I think you've got to you've got to listen to your customer base and just be true to yourself, just like just do what you believe in, you know, try to make the best decisions that you can.

Right. That's good advice. Thank you very much.