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A London Woman’s startup chases ‘Zero-waste’ on a Retro styled Milk Truck

Many of us might had seen a milk man delivering the business directly to doorsteps in his two-wheeler and still the practice follows in major parts of the world, mainly in India. The kinda concept gets a refreshing update 2.o by a 32yr old woman, who augmented the idea to a wide-scale by selling all household products on a retro styled milk float in London.

The truck chases a ‘zero-waste’ strategy, reducing plastic wastes to combat the climate change, she affirms.

London Woman’s Top-Up Truck

People in London might have seen two women in an electric milk truck crammed with tins, flour & laundry liquid in the streets of Hackney. They are Ella Shone (founder) & Martha whizzing around the London fields in ‘Top-Up Truck’ backed by a local Re:Store, a refilling shop in Hackney Downs.

Ella Shone was ferrying morning milk to bleary eyed Londoners back in 2000 and twenty years on, the light vehicle known as ‘milk float’ recreates the career, this time selling a range of goods and serving the 32-year-old’s quest to rid the city of single-use plastic.

“The fact that I’m driving around in a milk float does a lot for raising awareness in the local area,” said Shone, wearing a black beanie during her rounds in the borough of Hackney last week. “So now I’m operating at almost full capacity.”

Coronavirus pandemic has been harsh to this woman too, furloughing her sales job last spring. She then used her savings to start her new business, aiming to scratch out single-use plastics used for packaging purposes.

Top-Up Truck is a cute mobile zero-waste shop carrying handful of kitchen & household items, from grains, pulses, teas, pasta, olive oil to shampoo, washing liquid and so on. Customers book a visit from the ‘Topup Truck’ online and the items are in your doorstep to refill your empty jars. It’s also a chance to mingle in a socially distanced cities, bit-chatting and community fun time in the open air with the neighbors.

‘The Refill Store that floats to your door & brings a retro feel’

Lockdown was an opportunity

Out of her job, she relentlessly build her business at the start of the lockdown through Instagram, WhatsApp and words of mouth importantly. “I’m now being made redundant so thankfully I set up a business during lockdown,” says Shone.

Ella Shone, serves a customer from her mobile zero waste shop called the ‘Top Up Truck’. Using a repurposed electric milk float, Ella delivers packaging free products such as cooking oil, shampoo and grains to peoples homes, allowing them to fill up their own containers with the produce, in London, Britain, February 19, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

“In recent years I developed a profound interest in the environment and food waste and how to remove packaging waste from the supply chain. Lockdown was an opportunity to do something.”

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“I thought bringing the store to people would make it a lot easier and broaden the reach. This way one person who is big on zero waste in the street can book the float and invite neighbors who wouldn’t have thought of doing it to come, have a look and get into it.”

Crowdfunding the business

While handling the logistics can be a challenge, Shone calculates that her service has eliminated the need for at least 12,700 pieces of plastic since it launched in August.

From a low base a decade ago, the market for such unpackaged bulk goods could hit at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) by 2030 in the European Union, according to a report here by Zero Waste Europe, an anti-waste network.

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Presupposing crowdfunding to retrofit her milk float expanding Topup Truck to a range of products, serving a great range of communities, Shone hopes that her novel approach will inspire others too in tackling wastes.

“If we want to have real change, it has to be a collective effort,” she said.

Watch Topup Truck’s video here!


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