Chorley's new Rail Weigh station helping eco-conscious customers go green by refilling to their heart's content

A few years ago, Amanda Cross started to become more aware of the issue posed by plastic pollution and the terrible impact it was having on the environment.

By Jack Marshall, Reporter
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 4:55 am

"I was working in a shop at the time and we used a lot of plastic and so, after I was made redundant, I saw it as the chance to set my own business up with an emphasis on reducing plastic use," explains Amanda, 43. "I remember, as a child, going to weigh-and-pay shops where you'd scoop up cornflakes and that kind of stuff for 50p and it was brilliant.

"It was all really good value for money as you weren't using any packaging," she adds. "So, I was expecting that kind of value from modern refill shops but I was shocked that everything was so expensive. Some shampoo that I refilled ended up costing about £9. I thought 'most people can't afford that'.

"So, I decided to do things my way and set up a shop for people like me: families on a budget who just want to save plastic and a bit of money."

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The end result was The Rail Weigh, an eco-friendly family-run store based in Adlington, Chorley which is geared towards ethical and green shopping. Launched in summer 2020, the store is - as their tag line says - 'The Little Pink Shop with the Big Green Mission'.

As well as selling zero-waste products including a wide range of plastic-free body care, pet products, vegan foods, gifts, games, soaps, and more, the store also offers people the chance to refill their own containers with things such as washing up liquid, laundry liquid, shampoo, shower gel, and hand soap, much of which is made locally by a company called Blooming Eco.

"When I was starting the business, I didn't have a lot of money, but I was determined to do something to help reduce plastic and be able to provide for myself and my children," says Amanda, who relocated to the area from the Fylde almost 20 years ago. "I wasn't eligible for any grants but that didn't stop me - I started small and built up from there.

"The reaction has been amazing - people comment on how cheap it is, but it's not cheap, it's just good value," adds Amanda, who was recently elected onto the Adlington Town Council. "We try to keep prices as low as possible because we're trying to reduce plastic use - if we ask people to pay a fortune, they're not going to come back.

"It's good fun too," adds Amanda. "Kids love getting involved and using the pumps and we get loads of parents coming in and explaining the environmental angle to their kids, which is really good. We've built a great community here and the village has been amazing in getting on board."

Across the entirety of 2022, The Rail Weigh will be counting the number of bottles people bring in to be refilled to quantify the impact they are having on helping to reduce plastic. After just four days, they hit 200 bottles on top of the work they are doing in helping people move away from plastics in countless other everyday products from toothpaste to sponges.

The shop is also keen to raise awareness and is considering running workshops when Covid numbers have receded. In the meantime, they want to champion the importance of things like refilling as much as possible given that only about 9% of plastic which is put in recycling bins is actually recycled.

"When we opened in the middle of lockdown, people thought it was risky but I was determined," says Amanda. "It's been amazing to see so many new people coming in refilling for the first time. We'd love to keep growing and offering even more plastic-free alternatives and products available in refill to reduce as much plastic as we can.

"And people have asked about selling online but we're not online - we like people coming into the shop, being able to have a chat, and being able to get to know people properly," she adds. "Talking to people face-to-face is something we've all missed in lockdown."