Patoka Eco Store was founded by Chloë in July 2019. The ethos of the business is sustainable shopping that is good to the environment, good to people and vegan friendly.
Tell us a little about you and your business
My name is Chloë, and I’m the founder of Patoka Eco Store, dedicated to making sustainability more accessible. We want to shed the dusty old hippy image, to ensure that everybody knows that a sustainable life is for them. We can’t affect significant improvements without bringing more people on board. We don’t believe that anyone’s perfect, but if we all take small steps we can create big waves of change.
Patoka Eco Store has been running since July 2019, bringing zero waste shopping to North West London for the first time. We were based in an indoor market in Wembley, which was a great spot to start off. We found a wonderful customer base there, some of whom were already dedicated zero-wasters, and some who were discovering the idea for the first time.
Has COVID changed things for you and your
COVID has changed things for us because it forced Patoka into the world of e-commerce, as people were less willing or able to come out to a shop, and being online-only made our staff safer too. We were delivery-only for around two months, reopening in June. After a month back open in Wembley, we realised that we needed to expand in order to continue serving our customers in this strange new world, so we sought out new premises, and left our little stall in the market. Sadly, the arrangements we made fell through, and COVID has made the property market uncertain, so we are still an online shop until new premises are available.
Has COVID changed how eco friendly you are? And do you think COVID is hampering any efforts to try and battle climate change?
Personally, COVID has made being eco-friendly more difficult, as I believe many people have found. I am fortunate to have easy access to Patoka’s stock, but our household are trying not to travel or visit shops unnecessarily, so without a trip across London sometimes plastic packaging is unavoidable. The upside, however, is that we have all started doing most of our shopping at small local shops after the supermarkets struggled in March. These shops often have eco- friendly surprises, like frozen peas in cardboard boxes instead of plastic bags! It is, of course, also wonderful to support small businesses, which we might never have discovered without COVID. One way in which the coronavirus crisis may have made Patoka a less sustainable business is our deliveries, which have to be done in the car that is available to us; sadly non-electric. We are not certain, however, that this has resulted in more car journeys, as it may be that some customers would have driven to our shop when it was open anyway. Additionally, we have been using more packaging than we used to, as it is not practical to refill customers’ own containers. To limit this, we have been accepting our glass bottles as returns in exchange for a refund, and dried goods have been packed in paper rather than plastic. Additionally, we have been able to get by without buying any new boxes or string, as we reuse what we already have, and what we get back from customers!
Has your perception of the community changed
since the lockdown?
My perception of the community is tricky to quantify, as it seems that some of society is realising that COVID could be a strong force for change, improving our air quality and animal husbandry methods, among other things. Meanwhile, another group among us appear to have turned inwards, rejecting mainstream science and seeking individualistic goals. I think our already-divided nation has become more so, but that it is important to focus on the positive people who push for unity and environmental improvements.
If you could change anything or if someone could ever help your business, what would that look like? Or what would have to happen to ideally get it back where you want it to be?
In an ideal world, Patoka would be open in a lovely big shop, stocking as many products as we could wish to, with all public transport safe to use again, and some bike racks beside the door! We really hope that our vision is not far from coming true, as we can’t wait to welcome old faces and new to zero waste shopping. We want this to become the new normal.
Tell us one thing no one knows about you.
Not many people know that I have a tattoo of a silver fern on my collarbone, representing my New Zealand heritage!