Case study - Rugby Unwrapped

Find out what’s important to you and it’ll help you make the change - Sharon Lee, Rugby Unwrapped

A meeting in a pub over a pint which became a firm friendship, shared core values and beliefs over climate change, and coincidentally timed company restructures led Clair Saxton and Sharon Lee to take the plunge and set up zero waste store Rugby Unwrapped. 

Both had been making sustainable lifestyle changes over a number of years and Sharon’s discovery of zero waste shop Earth, Food, Love in Totnes that had an ethos that resonated with Sharon and Clair sewed the seed of an idea. The Totnes shop produced a free business template on how they could make things work and after a 12 month period of planning they took the leap of faith and Rugby Unwrapped was launched in 2019. 

The store aims to provide good quality, eco-friendly products including cleaning, personal care and gift products, through to reduced or zero waste food products. Products are bought in bulk to reduce waste and are dispensed from containers or pumps in store to reduce packaging. Customers are encouraged to bring along their own containers when shopping, although reusable containers are available. 

“I’d always had the idea of getting out and working for myself and having my own business,” explains Clair. “When my organisation went through the restructure, I grabbed the opportunity to get out, it was just a coincidence it happened at the same time for Sharon. The idea of the shop tied in with the lifestyle changes we’d been making so we decided to go for it.” 

Clair and Sharon are both keen to point out that not everyone can make big changes all in one go and this isn’t about being judged. 

“I liked the ethos of small sustainable changes and setting up something that was none judgemental,” adds Sharon. 

“There are lots of people making small changes and keeping them up and that’s what’s powerful. And that’s all we’re asking, that people try to make some changes. If someone comes into the shop it shows they’re already interested in making a change which is great. It gives us a lever to say ‘this is an easy win’.” 

“People just need to start having conversations to help them make the change. We’re not perfect, but we all have to do what we can.” 

Top tips from Rugby Unwrapped: 

  • Reuse, reuse, reuse. Recycling is no longer the top answer. Stop buying new packets or bottles, reuse what you have and keep refilling. Refill everything from washing up bottles and laundry bottles through to cereals, snacks, oils and vinegars. 
  • Fast fashion. Think about the clothes you have and whether they can be repaired, swapped or donated. Repurpose clothes – add material to create a new outfit, or use the material for other reasons such as dusters or cleaning cloths. 
  • Find out where your clothes come from, how they are being produced and how ethical the production methods are. Did you know it can take approximately 10,000 litres of water to make a single pair of jeans? 
  • Make small changes. Small changes can have a big impact. COVID-19 has changed many things for example the way we travel. Change your style of travel if you can. Ditch the car for a bike, or walk where you can. 
  • Encourage friends and businesses to make small changes. It’s not about guilt or judgement, it’s about showing the simple changes you’ve made. Could your work kitchen, for example, refill containers rather than buying new each time?
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