Tracey Goddard was a high school teacher up until last summer. Here she talks about how the interest her students showed in the environment inspired her to open an eco-friendly store in Woodbridge – and how it remains one of the only shops open on the high street at the moment
Having taught English and drama in various schools in Suffolk and Essex, I very much enjoy working with young people. Over the last few years, I have been inspired by the young people and their interest in saving the environment. This stoked my interest in thinking about the way I live and trying to reduce my one use plastic waste. I still work in education alongside my shop as I am passionate about making a difference to young people’s lives. When restrictions allow, I hope to go into schools and discuss with children how they can help to be more environmentally friendly.
2020 was a very challenging and life changing year. Having spent the last 12 years teaching it was really the only thing I’ve known. Taking on a new challenge of finding and opening a shop was already daunting without a pandemic being thrown into the mix. Nevertheless, we persevered through all the madness and managed to find a suitable premises – after a long search. I have no previous business experience apart from working in Woolworths as a teenager, so running a business was completely out of my comfort zone. We spent many months researching and learning about new products that would be suitable.
The shop has been something that I’ve wanted to do for quite a few years, but I always thought it would be out of reach for me. I’ve been very interested in reducing plastic waste and wanted to help other people to do the same. The shop has been greatly received in Woodbridge and we have many repeat customers despite the lockdown challenges along the way.
I feel that we have chosen the perfect time to open a zero waste shop and that this kind of shopping needs to be the way of the future if we want to build a better world for future generations. We need to detach ourselves from a one use/throw away society and use the resources we already have in order to reduce waste.
Lockdown three has been the toughest yet – having only opened in October and January already being a challenging month. We have seen a large fall in customers due to people just not being out and being one of the only shops left open on the high street at present.
My hopes and dreams for the rest of 2021? We have to extend our product range so that we can offer more items to save people needing to go to large supermarkets. Woodbridge has a greengrocer, a butcher and a baker. We would love to fill the gap and be able to offer most items plastic free and be more of a small supermarket in sustainability.
Refill Eco can be found at 6a Thoroughfare, Woodbridge. Visit refill-eco.com
(Featured image: Tracey Goddard with her partner, Michael Seabrook)