With Friday 22nd April 2022 marking Earth Day, I thought it was high time I updated this guide to eco-friendly businesses and initiatives in Milton Keynes. In case you didn’t know, shopping locally is not only great for the local economy, but it’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Small businesses tend to have a more local supply chain – especially food producers – so the fewer miles your products have travelled to get to you, the better. In MK, we are lucky to have green initiatives and businesses that are very conscious of the environment.
In this blog post, I have shared a list of small businesses in Milton Keynes that are eco-friendly and taking steps to be kinder to the planet.
Eco-friendly businesses in Milton Keynes
- Branch Out MK
- Bucks Star Beer
- MK Community Fridge
- MK Swap Shop
- Molly’s Pantry
- My Refill Market
- Nothing Wasted
- Peach & Palm Plants
- Reuse Community Project MK
- Studio Pepita
- Sew & Grow
Branch Out MK
Sustainable, seasonal, locally grown flowers
Branch Out MK is a Community Interest Company (CIC) based in Stony Stratford that helps people with autismand learning differences to learn horticultural skills through the growing of flowers and plants. They advocate locally grown seasonal flowers. The carbon footprint of a bouquet of locally grown flowers is 2-4kg of Co2 compared to 31-32kg of Co2 for flowers imported from Kenya. Most of the flowers you buy from the supermarket are imported from countries as far afield as Chile, Israel and Kenya.
You can find Branch Out’s Botanical Boutique on the top floor on York House Centre in Stony Stratford which sells a range of botanical goodies and hand-cut flowers. They also produce table centrepieces and arrangements for events, weddings and funerals.
Branch Out created the beautiful autumnal decorations for Sophie’s Supper Club at The Brasserie at Milton Keynes College in November 2019 and in 2021, they won a bronze award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for their floral arrangement.
Find out more about Branch Out MK and support their work: www.branchoutmk.com
Bucks Star Beer & Growler Swap
Eco, vegan, zero-waste beer
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?!
Find Bucks Star Beer in Stonebridge, Milton Keynes and be sure to check out their taproom where they serve sourdough pizzas.
EcoBlooms was created by Emma Wilson after working in floristry for 10 years and seeing first-hand the best and worst of the floral industry.
Wanting to offer a more sustainable option, Emma wanted to be able to provide gorgeous flowers, grown in season and as local as possible without any usage of plastic. Most florists use plastic to wrap flowers and often use floral foam. The foam is a plastic made up of carcinogenic chemicals, which has air added to turn it into a foam, then further chemicals are added to help it to soak up water. This foam finds its way into our water systems and in landfills. It takes hundreds of years to break down, with some scientists believing it may never break down!
The other major environmental impact of floristry is the air miles from flying exotic flowers into the UK from all over the world. The growers are mainly vulnerable and have poor working conditions. When you buy from EcoBlooms, you are reducing the carbon footprint of the flowers you buy, supporting small businesses and British growers wherever possible, and avoiding single-use plastics.
Find out more about Ecoblooms and shop their gorgeous bouquets: ecoblooms.co.uk
MK Community Fridge
Fighting food waste
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!
Follow MK Community Fridge on Facebook to stay up to date with what’s in the fridge and upcoming events.
MK Swap Shop
Slow, low-impact fashion
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. Follow MK Swap Shop on Facebook to stay up to date on their latest events.
Molly’s Pantry is a grocery shop in Bletchley. Molly Thomas started the business with £160 in the back of her car following covid job losses. The Pantry prides itself on having the best of seasonal veg. They work directly with farmers, they source produce from local farms within hours of being harvested. Whilst most greengrocers rely on using wholesale markets Molly deals directly maintaining good relationships with growers, keeping food miles down and quality up.
Alongside the greengrocer Molly’s Pantry has a substantial range of dried goods, using no single-use plastics. Bring a clean container or use our recycled paper bags. The refill range extends to liquid cleaning products., from hand soap to laundry liquid, Molly’s Pantry has got you covered and all with as little plastic waste as possible at prices without the eco-tax.
Visit Molly’s Pantry at 111 Buckingham Rd, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK3 5HZ.
My Refill Market
My Refill Market is a zero-waste shop in Stony Stratford. Having set up a pop-up stall at local markets, owner Karen Jouet crowdfunded the money to set up a physical store.
And it’s amazing!
From shampoo to spices, you can fill up your own containers with goods for your kitchen, bathroom and home. Just weigh and pay! It’s a fantastic way to shop and is totally zero-waste. Just bring your own containers or use the recyclable paper bags on offer.
You can find My Refill Market in Eddie & Pearl on the high street in Stony Stratford.
Nothing Wasted is a family-run zero waste and Eco-solutions store based on Newport Pagnell High Street. You can stock up on your dry ingredients by taking your own containers. Nothing Wasted also stocks a brilliant range of plastic-free goodies from locally made oils, coffee, vegan-friendly foods, household products and toiletries.
Find Nothing Wasted at 105 High St, Newport Pagnell MK16 8EN.
Peach & Palm Plants
Peach & Palm is one of my FAVE local businesses and places to source houseplants! Bella is very passionate about reducing its carbon footprint as a business, so has introduced several commitments. Their ‘bruised peaches’ initiative helps to prevent waste by selling plants with cosmetic damages at a lower price. The packaging is also biodegradable using kraft style paper and plant base tape. Their soil bags are also made from biodegradable PLA.
I’m also super proud to be partnering with Peach & Palm this year for Sophie’s Supper Club! Bela is creating houseplant table centrepieces that people can buy at the events and take home to love!
To shop for lovely houseplants, visit peachandpalm.co.uk
Reuse Community Project MK
Environmentally friendly furniture
Reuse Community Project MK is a not-for-profit organisation set up to raise money for charities in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas.
They encourage residents to donate items (like furniture!) that could be reused. By selling these items or recycling the materials into unsellable goods, they raise money for charity. Many of these goods will end up in landfill sites so you help the environment and help someone else in need.
I have used the Reuse Project myself – it’s great for new homeowners looking to save a bit of money. I collected a small chest of drawers which were basically brand new with a RRP of £90. With a discount, I got them for £34 which is just amazing!
Follow Reuse Community Project on Facebook to see what goods they currently have, or you can go and visit them in Kiln Farm.
Sew & Grow
Sew & Grow is a social enterprise based in Wolverton. It is made up of a small team of staff, volunteers and young trainees that gain practical work experience as an alternative to mainstream school. The team creates handmade, naturally dyed textiles using plant-based dyes and would-be waste ingredients (think onion skins and avocado stones!) which are then turned into beautiful environmentally-conscious products.
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.
Zero Waste accessories
Studio Pepita creates colourfully handcrafted products that are designed to spark joy every day. The signature zero-waste hair clips and vibrant jewellery are created using wasted threads from landfills to create some amazing statement pieces. Studio Peptia uses eco resin, non-toxic pigments and wasted threads to create rainbow designs so not only are you investing in a beautiful piece but one that is as sustainable as possible.
Sustainable bathroom swaps
Suds is another great option if you are looking to reduce the amount of plastic in your bathroom. Based in Stony Stratford, Suds hand makes plastic free bath, shower and body care products, from deodorant to shampoo bars, body lotion to bath melts.
What I love about these products is that they are made with minimal packaging, and where there is packaging, it is easily recyclable or compostable. My favourite product picks are the bath melts and the whipped body lotion.
Buy Suds products online or find the products stocked in various shops such as My Refill Market.
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?
What changes will you make to become more sustainable?
You might also like:
- Independent Milton Keynes Christmas Gift Guide: Eco-Friendly Gifts
- Discover Nothing Wasted: Your new destination for new zero-waste shopping in Milton Keynes