Ella’s zero Waste electric milk float battles the scourge of plastic packaging

Ella Shone with her milk float which she uses to deliver zero waste goods to Hackney neighbourhoods

Ella Shone with her milk float which she uses to deliver zero waste goods to Hackney neighbourhoods - Credit: Archant

Lockdown business start-up The Top Up Truck travels to Hackney streets selling refillable food and home supplies and ‘bringing neighbourhoods together’

zero waste products are loaded onto the milk float ready to sell to Hackney neighbours

zero waste products are loaded onto the milk float ready to sell to Hackney neighbours - Credit: Archant

Ella Shone and her milk float are doing their bit to cut down on plastic packaging by delivering zero waste shopping to Hackney doorsteps.

The Clapton resident came up with her innovative sustainable business The Top Up Truck while on furlough from selling condiments made out of food that would otherwise go to waste.

Aiming to make buying refillable goods easier, she bought a second hand electric float and took to the borough’s streets stocked with ethically sourced food and home supplies.

Billed as ‘the refill store that floats to your door’ the service has been marketed via Instagram and word of mouth on neighbourhood WhatsApp groups.

Residents book a slot on her website then let their neighbours know the float is on its way. As the street descends armed with their own containers to top up supplies of laundry detergent, pasta, rice, flour, oats, nuts, seeds, toilet paper, shampoo and ketchup, it’s a chance to meet in a socially distanced outdoor setting.

“I’m now being made redundant so thankfully I set up a business during lockdown,” says Shone.

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“In recent years I developed a profound interest in the environment and food waste and how to remove packaging waste from the supply chain. Lockdown was an opportunity to do something.”

Shone is the first to admit that she didn’t always make the effort to go to her local zero waste store and cites the effort of “having to go with lots of bags and glass bottles then get it home and decant it,” as putting people off.

“I thought bringing the store to people would make it a lot easier and broaden the reach. This way one person who is big on zero waste in the street can book the float and invite neighbours who wouldn’t have thought of doing it to come, have a look and get into it.”

Scores of active WhatsApp groups set up during lockdown were the perfect way to spread the word. “I didn’t engineer it, it happened organically,” she says.

Shone is working with local suppliers including zero waste Re:Store in Hackney Downs Studios.

“At the heart is sustainability, community and well-being - bringing neighbourhoods together, supporting local, independent businesses, small ethical wholesalers as well as Hackney based products and brands,” she says.

“It’s definitely struck a nostalgia chord with people who remember fish, bread or meat vans coming round to sell goods.”

Most of her produce is organic and the household cleaning and beauty products are cruelty-free and free from SLS and parabens.

Shone is about to crowdfund to triple capacity by creating more shelving, and make the float lockable with a serving flap to offer shelter from the elements.

She also hopes to reach out to schools and nurseries and meet parents on the school run.

“Understanding the concept of packaging waste and its detrimental effect on the environment from an early age, we hope to inspire kids to be conscious of our impact on the planet.”


@topuptruck instagram.

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