Rochdale primary school one of 10 schools across Greater Manchester to launch eco-friendly refill shop

Date published: 08 February 2024

A Rochdale primary school is to become one of 10 schools across Greater Manchester to launch an eco-friendly refill shop.

Hamer Community Primary School will set up and manage the ‘Happy Hamer’ refill shop, with support from their teachers and ethical enterprise specialists Pupils Profit, which has partnered with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

They will sell a range of household products to classmates, teachers, parents and carers, with anyone making a purchase from the shop needing to use their own refillable bottles to help reduce plastic waste. The school was approached by Rochdale Council to apply for the project and will keep any profits to invest in further stock purchases.

The school eco team, made up of pupils from Year 2 to Year 6, is being led through a series of modules in order to gain a greater understanding of how a business works. This has included marketing, advertising, risk assessment, stock taking and profit projections.

The team have all got different roles during the training period (director, finance manager, buying manager etc) but will work together as one team when the shop opens in late February.

Happy Hamer will sell refills of household products such as body wash and hand wash, with all products made in the UK, cruelty-free, vegan, closed-loop and environmentally responsible.

Initially, the store will open once a month for the families attending Hamer Community Primary School. However, if the demand is high, additional hours will be considered.

Mrs Terry, headteacher, said: “When we were first invited to apply for the project, we knew we had to do it.

“We offer a lot of enrichment activities based around our ethos of care, challenge and fun – just before Christmas we held a maths happiness fair to raise funds that classes are now reinvesting into local community projects such as Rochdale Foodbank and the Soup Kitchen.

“This project is allowing our children to gain valuable insight into the complexities of running a shop, while, at the same time, encouraging our families to reduce waste by reusing plastic bottles and cause less harm to the environment by using eco-friendly products.

“I can’t wait to make my first purchase.”

The GMCA is funding the 10 school eco refill shops as part of a wider drive to normalise the process of refilling old containers with new products, as well as being a fun, educational project.

It is hoped that the shops will be fully sustainable from sales the pupils make, ensuring they can pass on their learning experience to future school year groups. 

The GMCA says the initiative will provide young people with valuable enterprise skills, as well as help them understand and embrace the values behind reducing waste. It also contributes towards helping Greater Manchester achieve its long-term environmental vision – to be carbon neutral by 2038.

Councillor Tom Ross, Greater Manchester lead for Green City Region, Waste and Recycling, said: “Reaching our ambitious environmental goals will take backing and action from everyone living and working in the city-region, so it’s really important that we foster a strong understanding of the importance of sustainability in our young people.

“This brilliant pilot scheme will provide children with valuable green and entrepreneurial skills, all whilst setting the standard for others to follow as we push to make Greater Manchester a leading Refill Destination and a greener place to live, work and grow.”

Elizabeth Gimblett, founder at Pupils Profit, said: “Our goal is for children in as many schools as possible to start refill shops, using this memorable activity to instil responsible attitudes to waste in younger generations, whilst helping children to develop skills, and actively encouraging the entire school community of parents, carers and staff to reduce their plastic waste.”

The Happy Hamer Refill Store is due to open at the end of February and will be opening its doors for at least 12 months as part of the initial project.

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