Couple's refill scheme saves shedloads from landfill

Vocky Godwin at the refill stall at Aylsham's monthly farmers' market.

Vocky Godwin at the refill stall at Aylsham's monthly farmers' market. - Credit: Supplied by the Godwins

Plastic waste is being saved from going into landfill by an Aylsham couple who are helping the planet one bottle at a time. 

Mike and Veronica 'Vocky' Godwin said they have been delighted by the success of their venture which allows people to refill plastic bottles of shampoo, detergent, washing-up liquid and other fluids rather than buying their products in new bottles.

Mike and Veronica 'Vocky' Godwin with their granddaughter, Nora.

Mike and Veronica 'Vocky' Godwin with their granddaughter, Nora. - Credit: Supplied by the Godwins

Mr Godwin, 63, a retired high school headteacher, estimated they had saved people buying around 1,500 bottles since they started operating their monthly stall at Aylsham's monthly farmers' market early last year. 

He said the idea came about because they were both members of the Aylsham Quaker Meeting, and they were discussing ideas about how to serve the community with other Quakers. 

Mr Godwin said: "Part of being a Quaker is a commitment to simplicity and equality and looking after the environment.


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"My wife came up with this idea of buying things like laundry liquid in bulk quantities - 20 litre vats - which we can send back to the wholesaler to be refilled.

The Godwins' stall at Aylsham Farmers' Market, where people can refill their plastic bottles. 

The Godwins' stall at Aylsham Farmers' Market, where people can refill their plastic bottles. - Credit: Supplied by Nina Bueno Del Carpio

"We asked the town council if we could run a stall at the farmers' market, which takes place on the first Saturday of the month. They agreed and they don't charge us for the pitch because it fits in with the ethos of the town."

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Aylsham is part of the 'Cittàslow' movement which aims to protect local business, protect the environment and preserve traditions. 

Mr Godwin said they had a regular following of people who came to the stall to have their bottles refilled "more or less at cost price".

The Godwins' stall at Aylsham Farmers' Market, where people can refill their plastic bottles. 

The Godwins' stall at Aylsham Farmers' Market, where people can refill their plastic bottles. - Credit: Supplied by Nina Bueno Del Carpio

He said: "We do round up a bit to cover spillage, because we sometimes miss the neck of the bottle. We also fill up bottles and donate them to the food bank at the parish church, because things like soap products can be quite expensive and don't tend to be donated as much as food.

"Filling up bottles seemed to be the preserve of the middle class but we wanted to broaden that out and make it accessible for everybody.

"It's also a lot of fun talking to people, and gives us an opportunity to let the community know that the Quakers are here."

Mrs Godwin, also 63 and an online tutor and examiner, added: "We wanted to do this because no other businesses were doing it in Aylsham, and we didn't want to undercut someone's livelihood."

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