An Eco-Friendly Way To Shop
By Gill Sherry
Andrew Hunter and his wife, Ainsley, were looking for a new project. Neither were, to use Ainsley’s
own words, in the first flush of youth, and wanted something to focus on when the time came to slow
So, with the help of Ainsley’s daughter, Chloe Ness, they set up Lavemill Larder, a store selling loose wholefoods, refill cleaning products, eco toiletries and lifestyle products in Troon and Prestwick. It was their way of bringing eco-friendly shopping to South Ayrshire.
The family has a smallholding and, once the children had left home, they found themselves with a glut of eggs from their 60 chickens. Those eggs are now one of the top sellers in their stores.
But eggs aren’t the only locally produced product available to buy at Lavemill Larder. The stores also sell milk, jams, marmalades, honey and salad dressings, all produced in Ayrshire. And, once you’ve made you’re purchase, chances are you’ll receive another locally produced item – a Morsbag.
“Morsbags are made from donated fabric,” Ainsley explains.
“Betty McDonald, she does the Recycling Saturday, she found this group… a lady that started making them during the pandemic… she set it up as a not-for-profit.”
Betty approached Ainsley and the two of them decided it would be good for people who hadn’t sewn for a while, or had never sewn, to learn how to make the bags. It was an ideal way of getting people together as well as being kind to the environment.
“We did a couple of free workshops. Betty sourced the fabric… and by the end of each afternoon, everyone had made at least one bag.”
They now have a group of cutters who cut out the fabric in line with the Morsbag pattern, as well as sewers who put the bags together.
“We just give them away when people buy stuff. There’s a bit of altruism but it’s mainly an attempt to reduce single use plastic.”
The project is co-ordinated by Sharon Little who runs the
‘Morsbag – The Prestwick POD’ Facebook page, a community of makers of Morsbags in Prestwick.
It’s a simple idea but one that supports the Lavemill Larder ethos of saving plastic, planet and pocket.
Fabric donations are always welcome, particularly curtain fabric and heavy cottons. Team members Louise, Rachel and Clare will happily relieve you of your fabric bundles. They are, according to Ainsley, the ones who do all the hard work.
“Polyester doesn’t work very well,” she continues. “It’s too slidey and not very eco. And velvet and corduroy can be a nightmare, they clog up the machine!”
Surprisingly, they currently only give away two or three Morsbags every week, mainly because customers tend to bring their own bags. Those same customers also bring their own containers whether it’s for a hefty purchase of flour or a teaspoon of tarragon.
“My son is a really good cook,” Ainsley tells me. “When he went to university he would look at a recipe and would need six spices. He didn’t have the budget for that… and he only needed a teaspoon of each.”
After a bit of research, Ainsley found shops in Edinburgh that actually sold small amounts of spices and she vowed to do the same at Lavemill Larder.
“People will come in with a recipe. They’ll bring jars, or we’ve got donated jars and bottles. It’s a good way of trying things and experimenting a wee bit.”
It’s obvious they won’t make much profit selling a teaspoon of paprika for three pence but the idea is, they’ll soon have 100 people buying spices one teaspoon at a time. In the meantime, shoppers continue to buy eggs, oats, flour, laundry liquid and a host of other products in much larger quantities.
But, as Ainsley points out, there’s so much more to Lavemill Larder than eggs and oats!
“People think we’re a health food shop or a farm shop,” she says. “We’re not just food, we’re food, drink, gifts and so much more. We’re an eco-friendly way to shop.”
And what better way to shop than ethically and sustainably, knowing you’re reducing the impact on the environment, and leaving with your very own locally made Morsbag?