An ex-chef has established a refill shop on wheels for Welsh households and communities who are looking to become more sustainable in their domestic buying choices, to help to reduce single use packaging used with food.
Ogmore-by-Sea based Owain George, established the mobile business Weigh To Go in March 2021, visiting communities across South Wales on a weekly rota and is packed full of locally and UK-sourced dried foods, herbs and spices, pasta, rice, lentils, seasonings, beans and more. The van is also stocked with plant-based cleaning and lifestyle products.
Owain, who has long had an interest in environmental issues and also worked for a climate change focused organisation, Protect our Winters, as an ambassador in France, set up his business with the aim of a zero-waste production model, providing a closed-loop full-circle ecosystem that is plastic free and re-uses any containers or packaging for continuous use. Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own containers and bags from home to ensure the plastic-free packaging ethos remains consistent from van to home.
Speaking about the launch of Weigh to Go, Owain said:
“It’s no surprise that more and more people are leaning into sustainability-conscious mindsets with the rise in awareness of global warming and climate change. And equally, people are becoming much more mindful about waste and plastic packaging and how it impacts the environment and communities around them.
“However, I’m also very aware that adapting the way people consider what they buy for their home isn’t necessarily easy for many households across Wales.
“This is ultimately why I decided to start Weigh to Go, in order to help be a part of the change that is needed and to help to educate people that sustainable shopping can be done in a budget-friendly way. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly chat with a curious passer-by to trigger a change in the way people view the world and their own role within it.”
Owain raised capital to launch Weigh To Go via the British Business Bank Start Up Loans programme, receiving £6,000 in April. The loan was facilitated through one of the British Business Bank’s delivery partners in Wales, Business in Focus based in Bridgend. In addition to finance, Owain also received 12 months of free mentoring and advice.
The money has been utilised to develop the business website for online ordering and a click and collect system, secure a stationary shop location in Ogmore-By-Sea, kitting out the shop and employing two staff to support running the shop, while Owain is driving the van from town to town.
The British Business Bank Start Up Loans programme provides government backed loans of up to £25,000 per individual, up to a maximum of £100,000 per business, facilitated through delivery partners in Wales like Business in Focus based in Bridgend. In addition to finance, successful applicants receive 12 months of free mentoring and advice.
The Start Up Loans programme has delivered more than 4,000 individual loans to entrepreneurs in Wales over the past nine years, worth over £40m.
Going forward, Owain hopes to develop his business into a community-focused hub, not just for shopping, but a space that will bring people together to talk about sustainability initiatives and discuss practices that everyone can implement into their lives. He has already started partnering with community centres and been involved with community food drives.
Owain has also been working on recipe cards and meal kits to make sustainable eating and cooking even more accessible by providing everything that is needed in pre-packed boxes.
Beth Bannister, Senior Manager for Wales at the British Business Bank, said:
“Weigh To Go, a home grown Welsh business driven by a real passion for sustainability, is exactly why our Start Up Loans programme exists – to bring the ideas and enthusiasm of entrepreneurs to life.
“His unflinching vision and commitment to a sustainable way of life is something we can all draw inspiration from and I wish him every success for the future.”