A Guide to Sustainable Businesses & Initiatives in Milton Keynes

You guys know I love supporting local businesses but I thought I’d do something a little different. In this post, I’m sharing the sustainable businesses and initiatives in Milton Keynes that you need to know about to start cutting down on your plastic waste and benefitting the environment and the local community. Ever since that Blue Planet II episode (yep, you know the one I’m talking about!) I have been acutely aware of my consumption of single-use products and my impact on the environment. And the guilt has been chipping away a bit, not going to lie.

I am fully aware that I eat meat which has a consequence on the environment.

I’m also aware that I drive 30 miles a day in my car to work, five days a week.

I am also incredibly aware of the fact that every toothbrush I have ever used is still on this planet. And don’t even get me started on the number of plastic bottles that live in my bathroom.

So where on earth do I start? Well, since I started reading Bethany’s Everyday Ethical blog and listening to her podcast (which by the way is excellent and non-preachy offering lots of ethical advice) I realised that I don’t need to do everything perfectly – I just need to start making small changes in areas of my lifestyle, rather than overhauling everything at once. So I’ve finally got my butt in gear and started to make sustainable switches. I’ve been on a mission over the last few months to hunt down some sustainable and eco-friendly businesses in Milton Keynes that will hopefully inspire you guys to make changes too.

Here are some eco-friendly businesses and initiatives in Milton Keynes that you need to know about that will help you lessen your environmental impact and give you a kick start into a more sustainable lifestyle.

Sustainable, Seasonal Flowers: Branch Out MK

The flower industry is huge but many florists, even local ones, rely on imported flowers from Europe and further afield. This obviously results in a huge carbon footprint, and many of the flowers we buy aren’t always in season so are produced more artificially. One way you can combat this is to buy locally grown flowers and Branch Out MK is a huge advocate of this.

Branch Out is a Community Interest Company which helps people with autism and learning difficulties learn new horticultural skills through the growing of flowers and plants. Based at York House Centre in Stony Stratford with a flower patch in Haversham allotments, you can’t really get more local than Branch Out flowers!

They have recently just opened a Botanical Boutique which you can find on the top floor of York House. It sells a range of hand-cut, fresh flowers for bouquets as well as lots of homegrown teas and botanical goodies!

Slow Fashion: MK Swap Shop

I am so guilty of ordering huge hauls of clothes from ASOS then sending them back. Not only does this contribute to emissions through shipping but the clothes themselves aren’t exactly sustainable either. Cutting back on fast fashion and investing in quality, sustainable items that I can wear over and over again is somewhere I can make some serious changes. Another way to get your new wardrobe fix is of course through second-hand shopping or swap shops!

MK Swap Shop aims to slow fast fashion down and is a great way to give your unwanted clothes to new homes and also find some new gems for your wardrobe! What I love about this Swap Shop initiative is that all the clothes are checked before they are put out, so you know you’re going to get good quality garments.

Simply turn up with your clothes (or get them picked up before!) and get your swap tokens to shop the swap shop.

MK Swap Shop hosts a swap part every first Friday of the Monday at Bar Bar Black Sheep in Wolverton and on the third Saturday of the month at Old School House in Wolverton. Check out my What’s On page for details of upcoming swap shops and follow MK Swap Shop on Facebook to stay up to date.

Conchus Shampoo Bar and Body Wash Bar

Natural Cosmetics: Conchus

My bathroom products are just plastic bottle central. Bottled shampoo, conditioner, shower gel… the lot. I identified this as an area where I could make the most changes to reduce my plastic consumption.

I’ve already switched to reusable cotton pads (I bought these ones from Leave No Trace which you can also pick up from My Refill Market!) to cut down on cotton pad wastage and to avoid using evil face wipes.

I have also been using a menstrual cup instead of sanitary towels and tampons and I am a TOTAL convert. I’m no longer discarding loads of plastic filled sanitary pads and tampons, reducing my monthly waste to next to nothing (I use this foldable Lily Cup from Intimina and I love it!)

Conchus is a recent discovery and I’m so glad I found them! All homemade by the lovely Camilla, she sells natural toiletries and cosmetic products which all come in biodegradable or recycled packaging. I have been LOVING the body wash bars and the Miracle Body Balm. Everything smells so delicious and I feel like it’s properly good for my skin.

Conchus are also very community conscious – every soap bar is hand-cut which means there are loads of off-cuts. Camilla collects them all and turns them into HUG bars which get donated to various charities across the country. I think this is such an amazing idea and even more of a reason to shop with them.

Check out the Conchus range: shop.conchus.co.uk

Plastic-free shopping: My Refill Market

I recently paid a visit to Clean Kilo in Birmingham which is a zero-waste supermarket – I bloody loved it! You basically took your own containers and filled them with everything you needed from flour to pasta, nuts to seeds, soy sauce to disinfectant. It means you cut back on all the unnecessary packaging that fills up landfill.

My Refill Market is essentially Milton Keynes’ zero-waste supermarket. As well as dry ingredients and household cleaners, the market also sells eco-friendly toiletries like locally made soaps, shampoo bars, and Leave No Trace accessories. Karen is so lovely and is more than happy to help you decide on where to start your sustainable journey!

You can find My Refill Market at pop-ups at On The High Street in Stony Stratford; Timor Court Market in Stony Stratford and Wolverton Farmer’s Market. Follow My Refill Market on Facebook to stay up to date with the pop-ups.

UPDATE: There is also a My Refill Market shop coming to Stony Stratford very soon!

Fight Food Waste: MK Community Fridge

MK Community Fridge is a fantastic initiative in Milton Keynes that helps to fight food waste. The food in the fridge is for anyone to take and use. It’s not a food bank – a lot of people are under the misconception that it is. There are four fridges in Milton Keynes: Wolverton, Woughton, Netherfield and Great Linford. To find your nearest fridge and find out when it’s open, visit the MK Community Fridge website.

Each fridge receives donations from local food businesses and supermarkets (like Asda, Lidl, Tesco) – it is all food that can no longer be sold and would go to waste. My Mum regularly picks up goodies from the Wolverton fridge and it’s a good feeling that you’ve stopped food going to waste!

MK Community Fridge also runs a pop-up cafe which uses up the food from the fridge. Follow them on Facebook to stay up to date with what’s in the fridge and upcoming events.

Zero-waste Beer: Bucks Star Beer & Growler Swap

Many pubs and local breweries do growler swaps by refilling the growler. But Bucks Star Beer do things a little differently. Their Growler Swap business actually uses the growlers as a key part of the brewing process, so the beers finish brewing in the bottles. Datis Gol, founder of Bucks Star Beer and its sister company, Growler Swap, is the brains behind this initiative.

You buy your 2L growler for £16, then when you return, you simply buy the next one for £11. The growlers that you return are then washed and reused for more brewing. Bucks Star Beer is also vegan-friendly and the brewery is solar-powered. Amazing right?!

Read more: Bucks Star Beer Brewery Tour & Tasting Experience

Bucks Star Beer Growler Swap

Eco-Friendly Fabrics: Sew & Grow

Sew & Grow is an MK grown social enterprise that is run by Ciara, who makes hand-crafted, artisan products using recycled and naturally dyed fabrics like reusable cotton pads and flannels and scrubbers for cleaning. Everything is grown or foraged to create natural dyes. Sew & Grow works closely with the local community, offering training programmes for young people. I think this is a great initiative that clearly has a positive impact on both the environment and the local community. The plants are grown locally at the Urb Garden in Wolverton.

You can find Sew & Grow products at Mrs. B’s Emporium in Wolverton or buy online here.

Other Businesses Doing Sustainable Stuff

In addition to the businesses dedicated to sustainability and ethical living, there are some businesses who are taking steps to reduce their waste too. Here’s what they’re doing…

♻️ Charity Recycling MK turns your household waste into charity donations for Willen Hospice and MK Cat Rescue. You can drop off everything from Nespresso pods to biscuit wrappers, air freshener products to plastic tops. Check out the Facebook page to find out how to donate.

♻️ Bubbles Laundromat are now stocking eco-conscious household cleaning products and sustainable loo roll – yay!

♻️ Old School House in Wolverton is working to make itself as green and sustainable as possible. It has an electric car charging points, uses upcycled furniture and will be installing solar panels. The cafe is also an official Refill station! Download the Refill app to find your nearest station, top up with tap water and reduce your plastic bottle waste.

♻️ Green’s Butcher’s in Stony Stratford encourages customers to pick up meat in their own Tupperware to save on plastic bags. Woodstock Bakery also supports this! You can buy your grocery bags from My Refill Market.

♻️ MK Biergarten has 3-pint reusable containers called Growlers which you can fill from the tap at the bar and take home. Simply come back and refill it! All of the steel kegs are also returned back to the breweries instead o being discarded.

♻️ Get 20p off your takeaway coffee from Out of Office if you bring your own reusable cup. If you purchase a bamboo cup from them, you’ll get your first drink on the house!

♻️ Suds is based in Stony Stratford and makes plastic free homemade shower and bath products. You can buy them from My Refill Market or online here.

♻️ Another way to reduce food waste in MK is to use the Too Good To Go app. A recent discovery for me, restaurants basically post their leftover food on the app and you can buy it for a fraction of the price. I’m working on helping them get more MK restaurants on board but check out how Laura from Bite Your Brum uses it – amazing!

Shopping local is one of the best ways you can live more consciously; not only are you putting money back into the local community, but many of the products you buy won’t have been imported which also reduces your carbon footprint. I will always advocate shopping local and independent where I can and I hope I’ve proved there are some fantastic businesses in Milton Keynes doing it already. Who’s feeling inspired to save the whales!?

What changes will you make to become more sustainable?

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I'm Sophie, a 20-something Milton Keynes food & travel blogger helping you to discover great eats and adventures in MK, Bucks and beyond.

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