The Alresford Gift Shop

We visited a local business, ‘The Alresford Gift Shop’, which is making concerted efforts to be more sustainable and reduce its impact on the environment. One of the owners, Susan Crook, gave us a tour and explained how the business carefully sources its stock to ensure its products are ethical, and wherever possible produced by local and UK based companies.

One area where this effort is obvious is their greetings cards, as the shop carries several ranges of ‘naked cards’. These naked cards are not saucy greetings cards, the term simply describes cards free of the unnecessary cellophane plastic wrapping. Instead, a sticky tab is used to hold the card and envelope together. Susan told us that many of the big card suppliers are now either ‘going naked’, or at least offering the option to shops.

The gift shop also stocks some lovely recyclable wrapping paper, decorated with prints created using vegetable dyes. Unlike regular gift wrap which often contains plastic, foil and glitter rendering it non-recyclable, this gift wrap can be placed in your recycling bin – provided any adhesive tape has been removed.

When visiting trade shows this Spring, Susan will be searching out eco friendly gift wrap and ribbons. She told us: “A big area of change will be Christmas crackers, which we will now only stock where they are plastic free and recyclable”.

Amongst the gifts are some lovely British paper wrapped soaps and candles; we particularly liked the beautiful candles from Devon based ‘Recycled Candle Company’, who collect leftover candle wax, largely from restaurants and hotels, and recycle it to create new candles. The shop has also supported St Eval candles for five years now, and Susan explained why: “Based in Cornwall, it is a lovely company – their energy sources for production include wind turbines, solar panels and biomass boilers. On their farm they work with the RSPB to create a network of arable fields, wildflower meadows and hedgerows to sustain insects and bees. So St Eval, apart from offering great smelling, high quality products, are close to being a completely carbon neutral company”.

The shop also stocks a variety of products to help you reduce your own personal impact on the environment. These include natural fibre turtle shopping bags to use when buying loose fruit and vegetables (rather than the shops own plastic bags), bamboo fibre and steel reusable coffee cups and beeswax wraps – a great eco alternative to cling film.

It is fantastic that the Alresford Gift Shop is considering its impact and actively working to improve on this. Thank you to Susan for taking the time to demonstrate to New Leaf the efforts being made, we found it very encouraging.