Billericay zero waste shop owner who opened store during the pandemic reflects on the last six months

Alex and her mum Paula with the Mayor of Basildon, Councillor David Burton-Sampson, at the opening of the shop. (Credit: Bob Braine)

Article by Hannah Brown: Alex D'Urso opened the Sustainability Store to help people reduce their plastic waste, but has spent more time working under lockdown restrictions than out of them.

Just over six months ago Alex D’Urso opened a new zero waste shop in Billericay, Essex. Alex, with her mum Paula, opened the Sustainability Store in August last year, before the second lockdown, before Tier 4, and then the third lockdown.

Starting a new business in the middle of a pandemic might seem to some like a strange time to begin a new venture, but half a year on, Alex said she is glad she opened the shop.

“It’s been really good to be fair, considering everything that is going on at the moment, it’s gone way better than I ever could have imagined. We are really lucky that we can stay open as we are an essential, with all the food. For us [being able to stay open] has been a Godsend, not just for business, but for our own personal mental wellbeing, as we still have something to go to and do. I think everyone says we’re a little bit crazy doing it, but at the end of the day the plastic problem doesn’t go away, nothing has changed. There was no reason not to do it, it’s always needed and wanted, even during pandemic. I definitely don’t regret opening at all.”

Since it opened, the Sustainability Store has spent more time in lockdown, and Tier 4 restrictions, than out of them.

While the shop has remained open, Alex has worked to adapt to help meet people’s needs, including opening an online store.

“It’s been really interesting to see the way as we moved into different tiers, the different ways people were dealing with it. In January we built our online shop so people can go online and click and collect, or local deliveries, if they don’t feel comfortable coming in, there is still the opportunity to shop with us.”

With the ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown established, Alex said she hopes that people will go out and support other businesses as they reopen.

“When non-essential shops open I hope people go out and actually use them, make the most of it, and show appreciation. It’s been really hard for some people and I think it’s important now that once everything is open, ok we’ve still got to be careful and do social distancing, use hand sanitizer, do it safely, but I hope everyone feels able to support places. I’m looking forward to going out to get something to eat!”

Article by Hannah Brown, InYourArea