Ripple: the happiest place in Cardiff

2018 was a pretty exciting year for the zero wasters of Cardiff – it is the year that not one, but two (!) bulk food stores opened in Cardiff. Ripple opened just a few weeks after we moved to Roath, and it immediately became one of my favourite places in the whole city. I also think it is the single biggest reason why we haven’t had to put out our residual waste bin since we moved house last October (we are literally living the zero waste dream right now, and I recognise that it is a huge privilege).

What is Ripple?

If you aren’t based in Cardiff, or haven’t been following my blog or social media posts, or haven’t talked to me for more than half an hour in the last year – then you may not have heard of Ripple. (If that’s the case, I’m also not sure how you managed to find this blog post, well done!).

Ripple is a not-for-profit, zero waste store in Cardiff that opened at the end of last year following a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. Founder Sophie Rae is a very cool human and did an amazing job at generating and harnessing local enthusiasm during the campaign, with all kinds of local businesses and artists donating rewards.

I posted last year about how frustrated I was at the lack of bulk food options in Cardiff, and it seems I wasn’t the only one. Support for Ripple is still going strong. Every time I have been to the store (and I go quite a lot!) it has been absolutely buzzing, almost overwhelmingly so in the first few months.

Why is it so great?

It is literally the equivalent of Disneyland for the aspiring zero waster. It has:

  • Affordable bulk foods and unpackaged household products
  • Other sustainable and locally made goods
  • Great tunes
  • Friendly people (as in you will literally make friends if you hang around long enough!).

If you are new to the zero waste shenanigans, then Ripple has cloth bags and other reusables to help you on your way. However, I am a strong believer that you shouldn’t have to go out and buy a bunch of new stuff in order to reduce your waste. In line with this philosophy, Ripple has baskets of donated jars and containers that you can use if you don’t have your own (or, if like me, you just happen to drop in for the second time in one weekend and decide that you really need snacks!).

As well as the typical food and refills that you might expect at a bulk food store, there is also a delightfully-curated selection of ethical homewares and clothes. In fact, I think Ripple is responsible for the fact that about half the population of Cardiff now seems to own Lucy & Yak dungarees (or overalls, as we call them in Australia).

Just how affordable is it?

Bulk food stores get a pretty bad rap for being expensive. However, from the start Sophie has been determined to make Ripple as accessible to everyone as possible. Prices seem pretty comparable to a big supermarket, some things are a bit more, some things are a bit less.

You may remember my post last year in which I compared the price of plastic free groceries to those from a typical supermarket. I was interested to repeat the exercise for Ripple. You can see the results below for a random selection of items that we buy pretty frequently.

On balance, I think a basket of groceries from Ripple comes out about the same as the equivalent from the supermarket. Non-food items like laundry powder, soap and toothbrushes are in general quite a bit more than at the supermarket. However there are some things that are ridiculously affordable, for example, there are frequent pictures on social media with people exclaiming over jars of spices that cost just 5p.

Comparison of the price per kilogram of different items from Ripple and a typical large supermarket (Tesco). Items with a * have prices per 100g.

If you happen to be in Cardiff, go check Ripple out!

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of Ripple (I feel like this post might come across a bit gushy, but that is all genuine excitement – Sophie doesn’t even know I’m writing it!).

However, I’m still missing somewhere to buy more perishable items like tofu, miso and tahini in bulk (although Ripple stock sesame seeds and soya beans, so there is an option to make my own, but also that is effort). So, there are still plenty of opportunities for eco-minded entrepreneurs that want to open low waste businesses or offer package free goods.

Given the success of Ripple, I’m sure the people of Cardiff will be right behind you!

Related posts

  • Looking for other shops in Cardiff that will help you live a zero waste and sustainable lifestyle? Check out my Cardiff Sustainable Living Guide.
  • Wondering if it is worth driving to a bulk food store? I explored that conundrum in this post, and came to the conclusion that it depends on what you value. (For me I think the contribution to the climate emergency from burning fossil fuels is a greater concern – but that is also easy for me to say when I have a bulk food store down the street.)
  • I don’t write a huge amount about the details of how we reduce our waste, but my Plastic Free July wrap from last year has a decent overview. It could do with an update though – all our grains and snacks (among other things) are now bought in bulk from Ripple…hurrah!
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