Proprietor Sally Hayes

Hello, I'm Sally Hayes and I run Tod Almighty.  I've started this blog because I want to offer some back-story on why we sell what we do, why we think some of our suppliers are brilliant, and ideas for living more sustainably.  I hope you enjoy reading it.  You can reply to any of the posts below (but replies are moderated to avoid spam) – I look forward to hearing from you!


Posts in the category of 'Reducing waste'...

Our new kraft brown paper bags
Our new kraft brown paper bags

Graham in the cellar doing the job he loves
Graham in the cellar doing the job he loves

BAGS – pros and cons

As you might know or expect from a refill shop, we are all about reducing plastic waste. So we don’t sell plastic bags and try to avoid plastic as much as we can. We buy almost all our wholefoods in bulk and sell them either from the dispensers into our customers’ own containers, or we bag them up ourselves into paper or cellophane bags.

Now, we’re no experts, but we know that the “which bag is best” question is full of controversy and very complicated! As far as using resources go, plastic bags are by far the most environmentally friendly, believe it or not – they are usually made from waste products of the oil industry, they are tough and strong, lightweight, waterproof, and are able to be used repeatedly. The trouble with them is that very indestructability – they take hundreds of years to break down in the environment and then they end up as microplastics which are about the worst thing we are littering the earth with. They are technically able to be recycled but in practice rarely are. And we use hundreds of billions of them every year! So in my opinion we should just stop using them, full stop.

But what about cellophane bags? They are made from plant starch – usually either wood, potato or corn. They take more resources to make but at least they are 100% biodegradable and compostable. Up until now we have been using them in the shop for bagged up salads, muesli, nuts, seeds, dried fruit etc, in fact for most of our wholefoods. We like them as they are transparent so you can see what is inside, waterproof, relatively tough and fairly cheap (nowhere near as cheap as plastic, of course!) The trouble with them is that unless you have a really good hot home compost bin they take a very long time to decompose. So most people put them in the “general rubbish” which means they end up in landfill. They could theoretically go into the council’s food waste recycling bins but they look too much like plastic bags so the councils won’t accept them. And in landfill they act like food waste in that as they break down they give off methane gas, one of the major greenhouse gases.

What about cotton or jute? We do sell recycled fair trade cotton string bags, jute strong shopping bags, and small cotton bags for veg and dry wholefoods. These have by far the heaviest environmental footprint in terms of resources to produce them, but can be used hundreds of times (as long as you remember to bring them with you!)  But they are not much good for us bagging up stock in the stop. And they are expensive.

So that leaves paper. Paper bags use a lot more resources to make them than plastic – they come from trees, which are cut down in order to make the paper, they are heavy and not very strong so it is more difficult (but not impossible) to reuse them. They aren’t suitable for anything that is wet or has oil or juice on it, and they aren’t transparent so you can’t see what’s inside. However, even bearing all that in mind I still think they are the best option of all the bags as they are both compostable, biodegradable AND can be endlessly and easily recycled, which has the capacity to seriously increase their efficiency. 

So, all this is building up to an announcement from Tod Almighty about our bagging up – we have now vastly increased our use of paper bags rather than cellophane – Tadaa! – see photo. The bags we are using are the type known as “kraft” which are unbleached brown block bottomed paper bags, reasonably strong, and we make sure they are appropriately labelled. There always will be some items of stock that will have to continue being bagged up into cellophane but we are reducing them down as much as we can.

By the way, by FAR the best way of doing your shopping of course is to bring your own containers and REFILL them – thereby avoiding packaging altogether! We support the #justonebottle campaign which has been set up to publicise and encourage refilling. We love it when our customers do that but we are aware that it isn’t always possible. And we want our customers to have the opportunity to eat the decent healthy organic wholefoods that are inside the bags, however they get them home.

Life, for most of us, is a compromise. I don’t really believe in perfection. But I do think we owe it to the earth and everything in it to try to do what we can to reduce our impact on it.


Reducing plastic waste

Reduce plastic waste. Refill not landfill. It's painted in bright yellow letters on our shop front. It's what we believe. Our shop offers you the chance to shop ethically, sustainably and healthily. But what about at home?

An obvious one but one that bears repeating. While household recycling rates in England are going in the right direction (45.5% in 2019) it has begun to slow in recent years. Regardless of these statistics, we must keep recycling or repurpose our household waste – and we need to do it properly. One of the common mistakes people make is not knowing exactly where certain items can be recycled. While the Council's weekly collection is vital, it's important to know exactly what goes in which bin, bag or sack. Wrong items that end up in the wrong place adds more time at the sorting depot and if the wrong material gets missed it can affect whether certain collections can be recycled effectively at all.

Make sure you know what goes where. This is a useful guide to get started:

Any items that the Council is unable to recycle can often be repurposed elsewhere. For example, you could use an old rug on your homemade compost heap to keep the heat in. Or sell them on or donate to charity shop.

Reusable coffee cups and water bottles are almost a fashion statement now but that's no bad thing. As long as we don't end up buying a new one every few months – defeats the point somewhat.

And just as fashionable: tote bags. While we do offer paper bags for a small fee in the shop, we encourage all of our customers to come prepared with a bag for their shopping. And hopefully by promoting it in our shop, customers will get used to doing it elsewhere. But do be careful when purchasing your next tote bag. Find out what it's made from, a blend of recycled and organic cotton or hemp is actually better than 100% organic cotton. Tote bags or shoppers should be a long-term purchase, helping you with your shopping for years to come.

If you're crafty, there are so many ways you can repurpose everyday household items. Just a quick Google comes up with hundreds of ideas but here's a few:
  1. Old jars are perfect for repurposing. Many of our customers use them as containers for our wholefood refills. We also use them in the shop for charity jams.
  2. Hold on to your coffee grounds, they make a great fertiliser.
  3. You can use the wooden sticks from an ice lolly as labels for your plants and flowers when they are just seedlings.

One final challenge...
Lots of tips here, bit one of the best ones we can give you is to remove your general waste bin altogether. Try it out for a week and see how you get on. It will give you more incentive to check if the items you are purchasing are made of materials that can be recycled and better understand your options outside of the weekly recycling pick up.


Some of Tod Almighty's refills for household detergents, etc.
Some of Tod Almighty's refills for household detergents, etc.

Microplastics and Minimi

This month’s (July and August 2021) ‘Ethical Consumer Magazine’ was looking at refills of household detergents, etc., which of course we sell a lot of in the shop. We stock mostly ‘Miniml’ household detergents as they are environmentally friendly, vegan and kind to skin, and they are a local company with a ‘closed loop’ system whereby they collect the empty barrels and take them back to wash and refill, rather than recycle. 

I love ECM and always read it from cover to cover, as do a lot of our customers. However, this month I was horrified to read that not only was Miniml rated lower in ECM’s charts than expected, but that they said Miniml’s washing up liquid contained microplastics!! You can imagine I was straight on to Miniml to ask them if this was true. Scott from the company assured me that on this occasion ECM had made a mistake, their products DO NOT contain microplastics and ECM had changed their report on their online magazine, to which unfortunately you do need to subscribe to read in full. See

I’ve checked and they are right, ECM has changed the part about microplastics to… "As well as potential microplastics, there may be liquid polymers in your cleaners. Liquid polymers are not plastics, but they are also poorly biodegradable and remain for years in our ecosystem with unknown consequences…. Companies that got a best rating for [not using] microplastics and liquid polymers were: Bide, Bio-D, ecoleaf, Friendly Soap, Faith in Nature, Greenscents, Miniml, Planet Detox, SESI, Sodasan and Sonett.”

They also increased Miniml’s rating from 13 to 15, making them joint third best in the market, and above others like Ecoleaf. So, considering they are quite a bit cheaper than a lot of their competitors, and they refill rather than recycle their containers, I think that is much more acceptable. Phew! As we have been asked a few times about it by customers, I thought I would post to the blog to reassure people that Miniml is indeed pretty ethical and environmentally friendly.


Some of the plastic free items in the shop
Some of the plastic free items in the shop

Plastic Free July

Imagine! The world has been entirely plastic-free since whale-saviour Tim Minchin gave us all a musical aide memoire to sing before departing for the shops, and we now take the month of July to celebrate that fact and pay tribute to the dolphins who helped us to make it to our enlightened and entirely renewable times. Wouldn’t that be nice? But no, not yet, the world’s arteries remain clogged with the cellophane lids off meal deal pasta salads, and our arteries are becoming increasingly clogged with tiny particles of the same.

Plastic is one of those problems which seem so huge and unsurmountable it’s very difficult to look at them directly as it is just too depressing! But there are lots of new initiatives popping up that combined together can help us as consumers to really have an impact. You probably have heard of things like reusable coffee cups, bamboo toothbrushes, refills of washing up liquid and laundry liquid, wooden washing up brushes, jute shopping bags etc etc. We’ve been selling stuff like this for a while and we have never found so much passion and determination among our customers to use them to reduce their plastic waste. And running the shop I have been repeatedly delighted to find that suppliers are addressing the packaging issue as well, with stock items like little glass bottles of essential oil now arriving in shredded paper packaging rather than bubblewrap, and Optibac probiotics FINALLY arriving in little glass jars rather than plastic tubs (thank you thank you Optibac!). So although there are lots of feelings of despair and helplessness around the state of plastic pollution, especially in our oceans, there are also reasons for hope. And Plastic Free July exists to turn that hope into action – to be, as they put it “part of the solution” and join the many millions of others reducing their plastic waste.

Started in Australia in 2011, the Plastic Free Foundation wants people to commit to new plastic-reduction techniques throughout the month of July. No straws, bringing your own mug to the cafe, refillable porridge oat dispensers – that sort of thing. The movement survived the Coronavirus pandemic and is back this year with the message that even “when things were out of our control, we could have control on something, and it was our own behaviour.” And if nobody asks for or buys the alternative, there will be no alternative. Of course there is a long way to go, but as the Plastic Free July website says: “We don't need one person doing it perfectly, we need millions doing it imperfectly.” For more inspiring stories look on their website,

It’s tempting to not want to open our eyes and look at the state of the world, it’s tempting to feel overburdened and keep the blinkers on. But if seeing what is really happening and feeling the pain and holding the problem in our brains for a moment longer than is comfortable leads to a tiny improvement in our own personal relationship with plastic waste, then we’ve done our bit for the day.

I know how depressing it can be at times, but there is a lot we can do as individuals, while we wait for the powers that be to get their fingers out. Tod Almighty is a “reduce plastic waste” shop (please note, NOT a “zero waste shop, as I don’t think that’s really possible) where we offer a wide range of refills both of wholefoods and detergents that you can fill your own containers with, thereby bypassing packaging altogether. You can refill that washing up liquid bottle dozens of times before it falls apart,and think of the reduction of plastic in the environment just from that one little thing. And it’s cheaper. Drop in and see what else we can offer.

(Thanks to Georges for his input in this)

Everyone loves a washing up brush!
Everyone loves a washing up brush!


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