Video by @glynnworks, graphics by @kekamunniz
TOPUP TRUCK, the refill store that floats to your door, is a fun mobile plastic-free shop operating from an old electric milk float.
My name is Ella and I created TOPUP TRUCK back in August last year whilst on furlough leave. The ongoing aim is to make plastic-free shopping easier for everyone by bringing it to people’s streets, schools, offices, community centres, or wherever it’s wanted! I am so passionate about the concept, I ploughed all my savings into it, and now am asking for help to take it a stage further.
Why? Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans - we need to take responsibility for our environmental footprint - and fast!
It isn't always easy to make time for visiting your zero waste shop, so the TOPUP TRUCK brings the shop to right outside your home, to make it the easiest shopping option there is!
It has been an instant hit: operating three days a week - often fully booked - and has been featured on BBC radio, Time Out and made the front page of The Hackney Gazette. To date, we have saved over 13,700 pieces of plastic from being used!!! (Figure has increased since creation of video). Now we’re raising funds to take TOPUP TRUCK to the next level, and help everyone reduce their plastic consumption.
Residents in the borough of Hackney and just outside (currently) can book the TOPUP TRUCK to come to them and fill up their own containers with:
☞Mostly organic groceries: herbs; spices; oils; vinegars; dried fruit; nuts; seeds; pulses; grains; breakfast goods; raw choc treats; vegan sweets and more
☞Luxurious bathroom products: shampoo; body wash; conditioner; loo roll and more
☞Eco-friendly household products: laundry liquid; washing up liquid; and cleaning products including bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar.
We work with a range of ethical and sustainable wholesalers and producers and local brands to stock the float. We are in partnership Re:Store in Hackney Downs Studios.
There is no minimum spend or booking fee as we want to remove common obstacles to shopping sustainably. The fact that we come to you means that having mobility issues or being time-stretched due to work or childcare duties needn't get in the way either.
We want to support a local sense of community - by encouraging group bookings, it's a fantastic opportunity to meet neighbours old and new!
If we hit £7k:
☞Fixed-up float: In a nutshell, we will make the float lockable, weatherproof, and more custom-made storage than you can shake a stick at for both dry and liquid products. We've been operating on a bare bones set-up since day one, which has highlighted how manually intensive it is having to load and unload each day. Secure storage also means we will be able to treat ourselves to breaks too!
The new setup will mean more capacity; even more stock and an all round better shopping experience! The float will also get a bit of TLC as it has been working so hard and needs a little glow-up.
Local maker Adam Azmy has carefully designed the new setup using responsibly sourced materials, so now we just need to put his plans into practice!
☞ Extended operating hours: say hello to five days a week and evening service!
☞ Reaching more communities: we’re planning to extend our catchment further out and add more booking slot options, so even more people have easier access to plastic-free shopping.
If we get a little (or a lot) more:
☞ TOPUP TRUCK app: we have been plotting an app that will streamline the booking process; enable you to find the float on the fly; manage communications smoothly and help us with stock management - we have the team at the ready and any additional resource will cut us some slack and enable us to focus on launching this exciting project which has been chilling in the pipeline.
☞ Replace your empties: for busy people who just want their shopping without stepping outside and don't know where to start with using their own containers - we would like to add a returnables service: a bit like the milkman, we will give you filled containers, collect when empty, and replace them with filled ones - ad infinitum.
☞ If this Crowdfunder goes into hyperdrive... we will advance our plan to roll out to other boroughs!!
After the conversion, we’ll donate jars, boxes and crates we don’t need to a not-for-profit zero waste community shop (recommendations gratefully received!)
One of the main reasons TOPUP TRUCK exists is because we have a big plastic problem on our hands. This is because we operate on a linear economy model where we take; make; use and waste, rather than a circular economy model where we take once, then make; use; return; reuse; repair and recycle as a last resort - then produce new things from recycled materials.
The first plastic was invented by Alexander Parkes in the 1860s... in Hackney Wick of all places! Plastic is pretty neat stuff - it is lightweight, waterproof, durable and is arguably the most versatile material that exists. It is perfect for packing things cheaply, safely and cleanly but the problem is it is made from non-renewable resources and we’re using far too much of it, and in the wrong way. More than half of all plastic produced is used just ONCE and then chucked away.
☞8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year. If waste management practices don't improve, scientists predict this amount could increase tenfold by 2025.
☞Plastic in the ocean breaks up into smaller fragments called micro-plastics, which have been identified in commercial fish consumed by humans.
☞We don't know how long it takes for plastic to break down. It's estimated it could take thousands of years to degrade.
☞100,000 marine mammals are killed globally each year by eating or being entangled in plastic.
☞Plastic waste kills up to a million seabirds a year. As with sea turtles, when seabirds ingest plastic, it takes up room in their stomachs, sometimes causing starvation. Many seabirds are found dead with their stomachs full of this waste.
☞Plastic waste invariably affects less wealthy and more at-risk communities, creating public health problems.
☞Plastic pollutes beaches, rivers or is incinerated and affects air and water.
☞China stopped accepting plastic-waste imports in 2018 and now the pollution is affecting other countries in Southeast Asia, mainly Indonesia.
☞The pandemic has been used as an excuse for continued use of single use plastics whilst over 125 health professionals recently weighed in on the safe ways to use reusables during the pandemic.
We would love your support in helping us achieve our vision to reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic that is used, and pave the way for a circular future which favours reuse over 'throwaway' culture.
Procuring, preparing and enjoying healthy food has been part of our social fabric since the dawn of time. Community and food were inextricably linked - food was a social affair - and naturally sustainable. But the sustainable and communal aspects of food have been lost in recent times to negative phenomena, including but not limited to, supermarket and internet shopping, fast food delivery, the low price of ready-meals and convenience foods. TOPUP TRUCK aims to rekindle the link and make sustainable food shopping a community thing - as it should be.
Regular customers love catching up with their immediate community while shopping sustainably from their street, estate or workplace. It is nostalgic, practical, sustainable, social, and fun. Once lockdown is lifted, we are looking to partner with schools and nurseries so that parents can bring their containers to school to combine the school run with their shopping.
NOTES ON REWARDS:
We want to use the 'name the float' competition reward to help spread the word about our crowdfunding campaign so we ask that you enter in the following way...
☞ 1. Post your suggestions to your Instagram stories, Facebook or Twitter feed
☞2. Tag @topuptruck
☞3. Use hashtag #namethefloat
☞ 4. Share with friends by tagging them into your post
There will also be a very generous prize for the lucky winner!!!
We want to be transparent about the fact we have created these rewards to ensure a decent contribution from each pledge goes to supporting TOPUP TRUCK. This crowdfunding page may not be the cheapest place to buy some of these things - but you will be helping to support this environmental cause at this crucial early stage and get something memorable or useful in return! If you have any comments - or want to make a certain pledge but want a slightly different reward then we will be delighted to hear your suggestions!
If you aren’t able to make a pledge because times are of course very tight for everyone, there are many other ways that you can help us...
☞Shop with us - book the TOPUP TRUCK and share a post about us when we arrive
☞Share this Crowdfunder with your social networks. Whilst this is a local service, we hope that people far and wide will connect with our vision :)
☞Sign up to our newsletter - www.topuptruck.com and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
☞Volunteer with us - get in touch at [email protected]
☞ Let us know if you have any questions, thoughts, feedback or suggestions on [email protected]
All plastic-pollution images used on this page have all been captured locally by @wildhackney