David and Lorraine Le Grice are the husband and wife team behind the award-winning Uncle Sid’s, Lowestoft’s first zero waste store. Here, Lorraine explains how it all started with a shampoo bar
We are a one big, beautiful, blended family – still growing and learning together. We have often stepped out in faith, not knowing what’s going to happen, but we believe that we have been most blessed through those times.
When did you first have the idea for Uncle Sid’s Zero Waste Store and what is the thinking behind it?
So, it all began with us buying a shampoo bar back in early 2019. We took stock of the amount of shampoo and conditioner bottles in our bathroom (we are a large family) and felt the challenge to stop our purchase of single use plastic. One thing led to another and then, six months later, we signed for our business premises – with no business plan or real idea what we were doing!
You’re blazing a trail as the first zero waste store in Lowestoft?
Lowestoft folk are wonderful and we are just an opening into making those small changes which all add up to helping our environment and caring for this amazing world we have been given.
Is it a no-brainer to be ZW advocates in the current climate?
Hmm, that’s tricky because, pre-Covid, the hot topic was climate change. Of course, we had COP26 but once again the media focus is back on Covid-19. Our aim is to encourage our community to explore some of the many alternatives that are available. For example, with Who Gives A Crap toilet paper, we sell single toilet rolls for folks to try. Then if they like the product they can order directly from the company.
How was everything looking for you at the start of the pandemic and how has the store adapted?
We opened as a self-service store in October 2019, and we were fortunate to build a solid customer base very quickly. Then Covid hit and by the first lockdown we had gone to an tover to counter service for all refills, with a one-in one-out system. Also, by this point, David had to shield which was tricky for a while, but our family members helped us so much and we were able to continue to open. We count ourselves as blessed to have such a supportive family and to have amazingly loyal customers.
We are now full counter service which folks seem to prefer, it is quite an ‘old fashioned’ style of store and it certainly is busier! We are always open to comments and suggestions as to how we can improve our service to our customers.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
We have invested into our future on Lowestoft Historic High Street, in the future of our beautiful Earth and the future generations to come. Whatever we can do to share the message we will, we are just so thankful to have the opportunity to do so. Who knows what the future holds…all we do know is that it will be good!
Featured image: David and Lorraine Le Grice, after Uncle Sid’s won the Best Family Business Award at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Lowestoft and Waveney Business Awards in November