Changemakers 2020: Catherine Conway’s Zero Waste Business

Photo Credit: Max Diamond

January’s edition of The Big Issue focuses on the Top 100 Changemakers in 2020. I was interested in finding an inspiring pioneer dealing with current environmental problems and discovered Catherine Conway, an amazing woman changing views on plastic packaging to improve ocean waste and sustainable living.

From Market Stall to Pioneering Business

In her 20s, Catherine became aware of the problem of plastic packaging, water pollution and waste accumulation. As an early adopter, she opened a small market stall in London selling unpackaged dry food and goods-from rice to cleaning products. There was interest right from the start. People with the same mindset as Catherine would bring their containers and fill them up with just the right amount of food needed. Fast forward 14 years and Waitrose is asking for her help to launch a packaging-free trial.


However, Catherine’s vision was not always popular. Only after December 2017, with the airing of the plastic pollution episode of Blue Planet II, did people start to wake up to the gravity of plastic contamination. Since then, products such as paper straws and reusable cups have become mainstream. Also, supermarkets increasingly receive customer discontent on food packaging and recycling difficulties. This shift in consciousness has massively drawn citizens to purchase goods from unpackaged stores.


Not surprisingly, Catherine Conway was ahead of the trend when she founded Unpackaged. This business promotes zero waste refill systems to clients, offers consultancy and sets up sustainable stores. The Unpackaged system encourages citizens to reuse and refill containers when buying goods to reduce carbon emissions, minimize food waste and conserve resources.


Catherine has created a pioneering business tackling a significant problem within society. She is a real activist, role model and changemaker.

Brighton Zero Waste Refill Shops

If you want to peruse a more sustainable lifestyle, Brighton offers a range of local zero waste shops to choose from.

Harriet’s of Hove

48 Blatchington Rd, Hove BN3 3YH

This store sells food, kitchen products and toiletries while committing completely to plastic-free packaging. Harriet’s of Hove offers unpackaged seasonal vegetables as well as bamboo products.


Unit 9 Brighton Open Market, Marshalls Row BN1 4JU.

Wastenot is dedicated to zero waste postage and packaging. Wastenot offers online shopping, where customers can buy sustainable products. The brand also owns a store in the centre of town selling legumes, grains, nuts, dried fruits, drinks, baking, lose spices, detergents and much more.


20-21 York Pl, Brighton, BN1 4GU

HISBE (How It Should Be) is a zero waste store and social enterprise. It includes a substantial variety of unpackaged fruit and vegetables to choose from. The shop also has a bulk buying station filled with different products- legumes, pasta, nuts, seeds and more. Finally, HISBE sells lose detergents and other cleaning products for those who want to refill their containers.



Ferguson, D. (2020). How one woman’s crusade against plastic sparked a new era at Waitrose. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 14 Jan. 2020].

Harriet’s of Hove. (2020). HARRIET’S OF HOVE – PLASTIC FREE SHOP IN HOVE. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Jan. 2020].

HISBE. (2020). HISBE – Supermarket Rebels. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Jan. 2020].

Top 100 Changemakers 2020. (2020). The Big Issue, (#1391), p.25.

Unpackaged. (2020). Unpackaged. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Jan. 2020].

Wastenot. (2020). Wastenot – Brighton’s original zero waste shop. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Jan. 2020].


Diamond, M. (2020). Catherine Conway. [image] Available at: [Accessed 14 Jan. 2020].




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