The Clean Kilo concept began simply over conversation between us (Jeanette and Tom) because we desperately felt like we needed to do something about the amount of plastic which ends up in the environment. We had been racking our brains for a while, sometimes coming up with little inventions which could help people cut down on plastic use; we even floated the idea of a toothbrush with a changeable head until we realised someone else had already done it!
With the frivolous use of unnecessary plastic for food packaging that we had seen, (items like single bell peppers in shrink wrap) Jeanette asked the question, 'Why is there not a supermarket with no plastic packaging?'. This then quickly reminded Tom of a bulk shop that he visited frequently during his time as a chemistry PhD student in Australia. Tom had always pondered about how great it would be to have this in the UK, however, with no previous business background it seemed a ridiculous thought to embark on such a project. Jeanette had been instrumental in all areas of small businesses during her career and so her experience in marketing and design meant that we made the perfect team to make The Clean Kilo: Zero Waste Supermarket become a reality in Birmingham.
We didn't have enough money to set up, so we decided to crowdfund, we created a ‘Panarama’ style video wto highlight how little you can buy unpackaged at the supermarket. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-clean-kilo-birmingham-s-first-zero-waste-shop#/
We had big ambitions to raise £14,700, hoping, at the very least, we would help raise awareness. We were extremely lucky to be releasing our campaign on the eve of Blue Planet II where Sir David Attenborough highlighted the detrimental effects of plastic– the starting point of the media frenzy over plastic. The crowdfunder was a roller coaster of emotions, but after getting through Christmas, we started to gain momentum by asking local businesses to help share the video and more and more of the public took interest. This led to a grand total of £20,259 from over 500 contributors in just 45 days, which helped pave the way to our success. Crowdfunding not only awarded us financially, but a community spirit was built around The Clean Kilo and a satisfying assurance that people were willing to change behavioural habits.
It was the people of Birmingham that helped bring this project to life.