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  • Writer's pictureMary Smith

How to Shop Sustainably in Thanet


Amidst the vibrancy and creativity of the now very well-respected arts establishment in Thanet,  another vibe is growing and developing in its own right  - that of ethical and sustainable shopping. An ever-increasing batch of local independent shops and businesses with sustainability at their core is emerging. Whether for daily staples, weekend treats or out and out luxury goods, we are becoming well-served here in Thanet. The battle to avoid the chains and out-of-town monoliths has become a realistic possibility at last, and not a moment too soon.

Modern-day community spirit in nutshell. Image: Salt of the Earth

To mark this week's Earth Day, we encourage you to embrace sustainability in Thanet when you visit in the future, by no means least when you shop here. So how can you recognise an ethical, sustainable enterprise?  Our own take on it acknowledges that they have at their very hearts the guiding priniciples of caring for the planet and engaging the community to do so too when purchasing their products. It can be sourcing ingredients locally, seasonally or organically, in order to reduce travel miles, limiting use of wildlife-harming pesticides and also investing in local suppliers. It's about supplying to your local area first and foremost, getting to know your customers first hand and it's about minimal or zero waste and enabling the customer to go plastic-free where possible. It's about good, honest relationships with customers and staff alike and looking after where you live. 

Glass bottles of locally sourced milk. Image: Salt of the Earth

 New to Broadstairs, and very welcome, is Salt of the Earth. Up at the top of the High Street, opposite the station, they opened to great excitement their shop being a first for the town. Goods are sold loose to keep packaging to an absolute minimum, avoiding single-use plastics. Regular users know to bring their own containers and bags. Milk, flours, yeast, pastas, sugar, beans and pulses, toiletries and cleaning products are just a few of the basics available. Recently they have become stockists for Margate's brilliant Windmill Community Gardens  - organically and seasonally grown fruit, vegetables and herbs available for pick up each week on subscription. Salt of the Earth have also set themselves up as a community hub by incorporating a cafe within the shop too. 

Modern Providers' much lauded Pastrami sourdough toastie. Image: Modern Provider

Modern Provider has spent the last few years showing Thanet just how much it likes proper bread. No mass-produced insipid sliced whites wrapped in plastic here. Instead, a delicious and freshly baked array of artisan loaves, cakes and pastries awaits you,  all hand made in central Margate. Recently Modern Provider has been able to set up the bakery in shiny new central Margate premises, right on the High Street, with a cafe. Locals, both recently arrived and born and bred (excuse the pun!) have embraced this friendly quality bakery as an integral part of the community - you can't go far wrong with that. 

Delicious vegan delights from Food by Wild. Image: Food by Wild

Next up is Broadstairs-based Food by Wild who cooks out-of-this world vegan and vegetarian dishes with an imaginative, ever-varied menu. Ingredients are organic and seasonal as a basic, the dishes wonderfully tasty, colourful and fresh. Keep an eye out when you visit any local markets and pop-ups for here you will often find Food by Wild serving up beautifully put together meals to buy. You will also be pleased to know that a regular take-away Food by Wild delights at the Grain Grocer in Margate as well as the luxury of a full-on catering service available to book for special events. 

Gorgeous arrangements by Ultramarine, from locally-grown flowers. Image: Ultramarine

Just like the movement towards seasonal organic vegetables before it, seasonal locally-grown flowers is now more than just a trend. Ultramarine is a creative florist working out of Margate who feels it very important to focus on seasonal flowers from local growers wherever possible. Floral foam is an absolute no-no for Ultramarine, it being totally unrecyclable and ending up in our water courses.  Often selling at Mar Mar plant and coffee shop and Urchin Wines, you will find gorgeous bunches of seasonal, usually pesticide-free flowers arranged to perfection.  It doesn't stop there though and flowers with an eye-catching 'just-picked' style can be ordered for weddings, events and installations. If you want an alternative to the hot-housed, chemically-treated imported flowers so often found in the supermarkets, Ultramarine will have what you're after.

The whimsical wonderland that is Peony Vintage. Image: Peony Vintage

Of course clothes can be bought sustainably too, we are a nation of charity shop aficionados after all. Slap bang in the middle of Margate's old town, Peony Vintage takes the second-hand fashion ethos and turns it into something truly wonderful. Always worth a serious browse, the shop is a cute and very well-stocked outfit (excuse the pun again!) and stocks a wide range of vintage pieces in various styles and sizes. A friendly, personal service along with imaginative collaborations with like-minded sellers and creatives is a big part of the Peony Vintage staying power. A great way to kick the clothing chain habit into touch by finding something unique to wear for a fraction of the price, what's not to like?

Elemental, unique luxury from Haeckels. Image: Haeckels

Last, but as they say by no means least, is Haeckels. No trip to Thanet is complete without a non-rushed visit to their beautiful shop looking out to sea, opposite Margate's old and iconic lido. An equisite and elemental range of luxurious skincare, fragrances, candles and oils awaits you, we promise. With strong emphasis on natural ingredients and an official license to forage coastal plants - and a mission to improve ocean conservation - there is no doubt about Haeckels' credentials as a sustainable business and community asset. They have even gifted the town a beach sauna in a stunningly well-renovated Victorian bathing machine. Go see!

Haeckel's Victorian bathing machine community sauna. Image: M Smith

We have chosen a handful of sustainable businesses today, to show just how easy it is to shop locally and ethically in Thanet. For each of them there will be other businesses also doing the same thing or about to embark on their own sustainable journey. How have they done it? Well by the looks of it sheer hard graft, along with excellent product knowledge and imagination, good entreprenurial savvy and a personal touch. All of them embrace particular elements of sustainability within their products and services, which their undeniable success must at least be partly down to. We strongly advise you to peruse their Instagram feeds where you will find a feast for the eyes, details of day-to-day availability and how to buy when you are here.  Broadstairs Apartments is but a walk, short bus or train journey away from everyone we've written about today. We look forward to welcoming you some day soon! #earthday #planetearth #environment #sustainablebusiness #ethicallysourced #highstreet #localshopping #independentretailer #grownnotflown #zerowaste #singleuseplastic #communityhub #zeroairmiles #broadstairs #margate #ramsgate #thanet #seaside #luxurystay #broadstairsapartments 

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