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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Roots and Hoots: Plastic-free, zero-waste, straight to your doorstep

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Brighton-based zero-waste store Roots and Hoots is shaking up the plastic-free trade with a delivery-based online service.

Look around. Roots and Hoots is willing to bet that your kitchen and bathroom have at least 100 plastic-packaged products.

The zero-waste brand argues that every week, you’re paying extra in the supermarket just to throw out the packaging at home. And it wants to help you stop that.

Co-founded by Shiv Misra, who also co-founded vegan supermarket Kindly of Brighton, and Ram Krishnan, a tech entrepreneur innovating with food waste recycling, Roots and Hoots sets itself apart from other plastic-free stores with its online model. Instead of a physical store where you can walk in and pick what you need, it lets you do that on its website and delivers products in reusable packaging via an emissions-free van.

zero waste deliveryMisra says the concept of a zero-waste shop allows people to buy only how much they like and hence helps reduce food waste. “But I also know that customers are reluctant to use zero-waste shops as they don’t want to lunge heavy packs from the shop to their house,” he adds. “There are quite a few physical zero-waste shops, but not many players that deliver such products to your doorsteps.”

Even with those shops, Misra says the paper packaging leads to wastage. Roots and Hoots’s plastic-free packaging combined with its eco-friendly delivery sets it apart. The co-founder points out that no other brand does so, with Tesco only beginning a trial with such a service with Loop. “Even with Tesco, you need to pay a deposit for the packaging material, which is not the case with us.”

The name of the Brighton-based brand comes from the founders wanting to “go back to the roots” when people used to shop more sustainably and responsibly. “We want to be hooting about it when we do this, and hence the name.”

carbon neutral deliveryMisra feels there is a strong relationship between veganism and zero-waste living, as the end consumers for both lifestyles are the same. “Most of the times, it’s the environment-conscious customers who start the journey on either of the cases… and want to take it to the next level.”

The entrepreneur suggests starting small and staying consistent when embarking on a zero-waste journey. “Find one product that you can swap for a zero-waste product, and you will see that it’s not a difficult swap,” he says, noting that many businesses help you find such alternatives.

While it was slightly inconvenient five years ago, general eco-awareness has led brands to do their bit for the environment. “It’s becoming much more easy and straightforward,” he highlights. “We have to change the way we live if we want our future generations to experience the same things that we did. We need to start this change.”

zero waste brightonRoots and Hoots currently only delivers in Brighton and Hove and surrounding areas. Is there a roadmap for the business to extend it nationally? “We wanted to go nationwide by the second half of this year, but we are learning along the way and want to improve our process and expand slowly than earlier planned,” explains Misra.

“We have recently started delivering to areas outside Brighton and Hove and want to expand to the wider areas of Sussex and maybe Kent before we launch nationally,” he adds, noting that nationwide delivery could be available towards the end of the year.

Misra says if he could erase plastic packaging from one product, it would be fruits and vegetables. That three plastic-packaged peppers are cheaper than two loose ones has long been scrutinised. “The big players are using wraps, bags, and other hard-to-recycle materials to extend the shelf-life of their products, which would be the first thing I would like to eradicate.”

Check out our Ultimate Guide to vegan restaurants in Brighton.

Anay Mridul
Anay is the managing editor of The Vegan Review. A journalism graduate from City, University of London, he was a barista for three years, and never shuts up about coffee. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford Comma. Originally from India, he went vegan in 2020, after attempting (and failing) Veganuary. He believes being environmentally conscious is a basic responsibility, and veganism is the best thing you can do to battle climate change. He gets lost at Whole Foods sometimes.