WOM talks to Leeds Refills
Zero waste food shopping for the people of Leeds. Organic food, dried food staples, toiletries and other eco products. For current stock and opening times see our website.
STREET ADDRESS: 5 The Crescent, Hyde Park Corner, Leeds LS6 2NW
CALL: 07708 863877
Q: Tell me a little about yourself.
A: Ian Martin Thursfield, 33 (“All these lockdown birthdays, no idea what’s going
on”), originally from Castleford and now live in Armley. I’ve got this shop on Hyde
Park Corner, an eco-friendly refill shop.
Q: And what started you along this path?
A: “Primarily, Rachel was very much involved in reducing our waste. We’d just had
kids and it was an eye opener how many nappies were going in the bin, how many
wipes were going in the bin, the food waste - how our lives had changed. So
Rachel took the initiative, switching to reusable nappies, wipes, composting.”
“Not long after that my aunt passed away and left us some inheritance money; and
we kind of said, didn’t we,” he turns to Rachel, “what are we gonna do with it?
Let’s set up shop” Why not!
I had my first shop in the city centre for a while, that did shut down last year. That
was bit Covid related and a little back management related.
Q: What keeps you motivated?
A: The main thing that keeps me going is how we have lots of conversations with
the customers, customers are coming in happy to see us on the high street and it’s
making me happy, keeps me motivated. We have kids are coming in, asking some
of the most eye opening and important questions... About where the waste goes,
how do we create waste, what do we recycle and so on. How our kids are loving
and enjoying the space and loving that their parents are business owners. That
definitely wakes me up on a morning with a smile on my face!
Q: Talk us through what you stock and if there is anything customers need to bring
when they shop here.
A: We stock household staples: pasta rice. we sell a lot of grains, pulses, seeds,
lentils, black beans, red beans. Nuts, seeds, vegan sweets, vegan marshmallows,
dried fruit, noodles, flour, herbs spices.
We also sell reusables like your wipes, kitchen roll, vegan food wraps, beeswax
wraps, deodorant that is aluminium and SLS free. Soaps, hand soaps that are
Kitchen essentials such as baking paper, aluminium foil all made from recycled
material. Kids toys are all made from recyclable and compostable cardboard.
Jars would be advantageous for customers to bring, we have paper bags and we
have jars that can be used as containers that people can buy. But the whole
journey of less waste and recycling is if people bring their own jars and recyclable
containers, that’s much more preferable.
Q: What’s your goal?
A: We want to be involved in the community. We’ve just announced that we’ll be
doing local litter picks twice per week, just for an hour or two, get some litter
pickers, some bin bags. They can earn vouchers which will get them money off in
the shop, for helping to clean up the community.
We’re getting involved in fairs now that restrictions are lifting, we want to be
involved in student activities and help them out with their food waste. We want to
start putting on workshops too.
Q: Is most of your produce local?
A: In terms of homewares, most of it is. We have what I like to call the LS6 section,
these soaps are made in Hebden Bridge. Anything Faith in Nature is, I believe,
made in Wales now. Eco leaf is all Halifax, like the dishwasher tablets. The
suppliers of the bamboo made products are in Bali, but the actual maker is in
Leeds. The toys come from the South of England, I don’t know if you’d consider
The food, mainly the herbs and spices come from the UK. The noodles are from
Manchester, the vegan marshmallows from hays hum. The nuts are from America.
The dried fruit comes from Syria, Turkey, Iraq or Iran. Cous Cous comes from the
EU, from Italy.
Q: Do you do deliveries?
A: I do carbon negative deliveries by bike for myself and other companies. We use
completely renewable energy from Ecotricity and for every dozen deliveries we’re
able to pay a company in North Yorkshire to plant a tree in their 20 acre farm,
called Make It Wild. It’s a lovely initiative to be involved in.
Q: Off the back of what you were saying about litter picking, I was wondering
where did the idea come from?
A: Our 6 year old is OBSESSED with litter picking. Rachel and Imogen were
walking through a carpark once and Imogen just threw a lollypop stick on the floor.
She’s like: “It doesn’t matter, somebody else’ll tidy it up.” So we obviously had to
have The Talk, that “No, that isn’t how it works, put it in the bin!”
Ever since The Talk, she pestered us for months going “can we go litter picking?
Can we pick up all that rubbish other people are leaving?” In our case we got our
litter picker and we went on 2-3 hour litter picks just in the street and outside it -
there was so much rubbish, took us forever to get through it all.
We were getting through about 2-3 sacks every time we went out. And every time
we went somewhere, we visited Rachel’s family in Brighton between the two
lockdowns and they have a beach clean up every week. So that’s what we decided
to do and she absolutely loves it!
Photo credit: Sam Gillibrand
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