Frequently Asked Questions

Is plastic really a problem for us?

Here is a typical journey for a piece of plastic;

  • Every piece of plastic that has ever been produced will take between 450-1000 years to decompose (depending on the type of plastic).
  • Rubbish like this finds its way into canals and rivers and eventually the ocean.
  • Plastic in the ocean absorbs chemicals (pollution from shipping and industry) very rapidly.
  • In the ocean plastic doesn't decompose but breaks down into tiny pieces called microplastics.
  • Microplastics are easily ingested by fish and marine birds.
  • The stomachs of sea animals fill up with non-digestible mass causing them to die of starvation.
  • All of the toxic chemicals which were absorbed and the inherent toxic chemicals in plastic (such as phalates) get into the fish's organs and tissue.
  • Toxic chemicals move up the food chain in a process called bioaccumulation, meaning that our dinner plates are contaminated with toxic, endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals.

See our 'Blog' for more information.

What is zero waste shopping?

Our ethos is to: sell plastic-free products, source as local as possible and reduce food waste. We set up to challenge the food system and its overpackaged supply chain by sourcing in bulk and selling without packaging.

We use bulk dispensers on all refill products to eradicate the need for individual packaging. We do not think all plastic is bad, we encourage customers to stop treating packaging as single-use and to reuse where possible. Only 9% of the world’s plastic is currently recycled, so we need to slow down the production of plastic to protect further irreversible damage to our environment.

We sell most items you would expect at a conventional supermarket – including dry food, household products and toiletries. To further our impact, we pioneered the growth of zero-waste shopping by expanding our product range to include beauty and cosmetic products, baby care and household essentials.

With convenience being key in our busy lifestyles, we continually push the boundaries of what we offer package-free. We believe having the widest product range is extremely important to have the greatest impact on reducing plastic pollution. We always take suggestions on board and will research every request; we appreciate lifestyles differ and we want to be as inclusive as possible.

We sell all of our refillable products by weight (grams) including liquids, and we display our prices per 100g or per 10g.

How do I start zero waste?

Now this is personal, think small and realistic, what habit generates the most waste in your routine ?

Do you grab coffee on the go, if yes than replace disposable cups with a good quality reusable cup.

Could you refill your detergent bottles rather than buying new? Even better buy them in bulk !

How about ditching single use wipes for a more sustainable version ?

Try bulk buying your household staple products without plastic like pasta, rice or pulses.

We have thought of everything practical to us, but we’re open to suggestions which will help you live more sustainably. Our personal top swaps include reusable make up wipes, wax wraps rather than cling film, reusing spice jars for refills and refilling haircare bottles!

Come in store for a browse and get some inspiration, zero waste is not about upheaving your life but small believable changes.

How do I shop zero waste?

You can do this in store six days a week or online 24/7.

Hardware items can be posted throughout the UK.

For online orders we offer free Click & Collect or Local Delivery.

Most items are available through both avenues, if a product is not listed on the website it is not available for delivery.

Is Nil Living zero waste?

No, but this is an ethos we envision. And not a statement of reality. It’s unlikely that anyone is completely zero waste, the important thing is trying to consume and waste less. We choose products and packaging which are compostable, biodegradable or recyclable (in that order). We favour circular companies who reuse resources rather than disposing or recycling items.

We choose suppliers who marry into our low waste ethos and opt for deliveries using paper rather than plastic. We try to pick the most local suppliers where we can to reduce our carbon footprint with less frequent ordering. It is not possible to avoid plastic during logistics and some food safety, but we try our best.

Where is Nil Living?

We are based in the Grainger Market slap bang in the middle of Alley 4; our shop is number 173/175. You can find us on Google maps at the top of our Contact Us section if you need directions.

People can get lost in the market, so we suggest you look up and find your alley number to navigate, there are maps at most entry points, but these are notoriously out of date. Newcastle Council are in the process of updating these to help shoppers find their way.

Getting lost in the market doesn’t need to be a bad thing, there’s lots of hidden wonders and surprises that you may have missed for years. As the traders inside the market are small and independent locals, not all businesses can afford advertising, so there could be a hidden gem you’ve never heard of before.

What are your opening hours?

Monday - Saturday 8am - 5:30pm (closed UK bank holidays).

We are open six days a week Monday to Saturday and comply with the Grainger Market recommended hours. We open each day at 8am and close bang on 5:30pm when the ‘end of trading’ bell rings.

Do not be disheartened if other shops in the market appear closed before this time, we always stay open until 5pm! We will never let you down with our hours.

Follow us on social media for updates on hours, such as emergency closures or extended hours around holidays.

You can shop online 24/7. You can use our Click + Collect service for free or opt for Local Delivery.

Where do you deliver?

We offer a local delivery service to the following area codes;

Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 NE2 NE3 NE4 NE5 NE6 NE7 NE12 NE15 NE28

North Tyneside NE13 NE25 NE26 NE27 NE29 NE30

Northumberland NE20 (Ponteland Only) NE23 NE24 (Blyth Only) NE41 NE42 NE61 (Morpeth Only)

Gateshead NE8 NE9 NE10 NE11 NE16 NE17 NE21 NE39 NE40

South Tyneside NE31 NE32 NE33 NE34 NE35 NE36 NE37 NE38

Sunderland SR4 SR5 SR6

If you live outside of these area codes we can arrange delivery with a customised rate, we are happy to help and can be flexible so please contact us >>>

If you place an order and your delivery address is beyond our range without contacting us, then your order may be cancelled and refunded.

We will email you on the day of dispatch and offer contactless deliveries

Click Here for more info >>>

Do I have to bulk buy?

No. One third of all food produced is wasted so we allow customers to buy as little as needed; there’s no pressure to buy per 100g from us. Buy what is realistic and manageable for you and the family.

Bulk buying is a great way to save money, we do have some items available >>>

Do you have a published product and price list?

We do not publish a permanent price list but we are completely transparent on how we operate, our list is not fixed because we are always reviewing and changing the range and prices. Our current prices are on our website, these are subject to change with no notice and determined by our investment and supply.

If we make a saving on bulk buying, seasonal offers or promotions we always pass this saving onto you. We generally price things based on our investment when buying. Prices can also fluctuate because of other factors, with Brexit pending and the COVID pandemic this could also affect our offers.

We generally receive very positive feedback on our prices and can beat most supermarket prices, we want zero waste shopping to be accessible to everyone. We’ll happily provide current prices if you send us a message or email, just understand these are not fixed.

Follow us on social media for daily deals and product information ( or subscribe to our newsletter in the 'Contact Us' section.

Do I bring my own containers and bottles?

We support the BYO (bring your own) scheme and suggest using like for like but as long as your container is fit for purpose and can fit onto our scales you can use what is practical for you.

Popular choices include reusing herb and spice jars, jam jars, Tupperware, plastic tubs (ice cream/butter) or repurposed pasta and bread bags. Our personal favourite is cotton produce bags which are super versatile and lightweight to always have on hand, you can bring yourown or buy them in store.

If you bring your own containers to fill - please ensure they are cleaned thoroughly, and fit for purpose, as we cannot take responsibility after the product has left our dispensers. Containers must be completely dry before refilling as water promotes the growth of bacteria and can also reduce the shelf-life of products.

For cleaning products, you are only permitted to use containers which are made for those specific products. We call this 'like for like. For example, save your plastic washing up liquid bottle for repeat refills, when this needs to be disposed of we provide high quality sustainable alternatives such as glass bottles.

We do not allow food and drink containers to be refilled with detergents for your own safety, if customers do not comply with this recommendation Nil Living cannot be held liable. We provide labels with ingredients, hazards, instructions for the different cleaning products to use on your bottles.

For hair and body care refills we suggest using repurposed shampoo, conditioner bottles at first, we want to get as much use of your current plastics. You can buy our beautiful amber bottles in store with an appropriate lid or dispenser.

See our 'Liability Section' for more information.

How do you buy liquids in grams?

Typically, 1 ml of water = 1g of water but this ratio does not always apply with different liquid types. Some liquids are more viscous than others with varying surface areas, meaning this ratio is not transferable on all of our liquids.

We weigh your bottles first (or tare), you then refill your bottle with a liquid, we will weigh the bottle again and deduct the original bottle weight. This means you only pay for liquid contents by weight rather than attempting to measure in millilitres, our scales are calibrated to ensure accuracy.

See our 'How It Works' section for more information.

I have allergies, can I visit Nil Living?

Due to the nature of zero waste shopping, it is inevitable that nearly all allergens are present in the shop. Whether this be in the form of the product itself or traces due to the manufacturing or transport process, they will be present.

We do everything that we can to keep allergens separate within the shop and in storage - we have different scoops and separate funnels for customers, we keep the allergen containing products separate as possible in storage, however not in a self-contained area.

If you have a minor allergy, please ask for a for clean, designated funnel and scoop before dispensing. If you suffer from life threatening allergies, we do not recommend shopping with Nil Living.

We state any allergens present in products or traces, that have been notified by our suppliers on our dispensers and in our product portfolio. Please ask to see the product portfolio if you want to confirm allergens or nutritional information.

Alternatively see for yourself in our 'Liability Section'.

I have coeliac disease; do you provide gluten free products?

We provide products without gluten, but we are not certified as a ‘gluten-free’ establishment. We have invested in high quality airtight dispensers and jars, but we cannot guarantee that gluten cross contamination has not occurred between products. This can happen in preparation, transit and within the store.

We practice in the best interest of our customers health and safety with rigorous cleaning policies in place. We can only reduce the chance of cross contamination, but we cannot eradicate it. Please see allergen information and our health and safety statement in the 'Liability Section'.

How does Nil Living enhance food health and safety?

All dispensers and jars are filled in our shop in a hygienic environment (all utensils and containers are washed and sanitised before use). Our food utensils are single use with designated to clean and dirty sections to reduce cross contamination, we ask you to familiarise yourself with this technique.

The food section is always supervised but we cannot guarantee that all customers will comply with this policy.

We provide hand sanitiser for customers at our entrance which we strongly promote the use prior to any contact in store. We cannot be certain all customers who enter will conform to the recommendation.

We adhere to a strict cleaning policy and all staff are trained and certified in food safety. We practice safe hand washing and wear personal protection clothing for dispenser and jar refilling.

If you bring your own containers to fill - please ensure they are cleaned thoroughly, and fit for purpose, as we cannot take responsibility after the product has left our dispensers. Containers must be completely dry before refilling as water promotes the growth of bacteria and can also reduce the shelf-life of products.

Unfortunately, products that enter a customer’s container cannot be put back into our dispensers due to the risk of cross-contamination. As a small business we therefore kindly request that you purchase anything you dispense.

For full traceability, where possible, we display our batch numbers, best before dates and ingredients on our products. We advise all our customers to take note of this or photograph the information for your own records, you can transfer the information on to your own containers.

See the 'Liability Section' for more information.

Is Nil Living organic?

We provide organic and non-organic produce, most of our suppliers are certified but we are not. We did want to limit our range, but we also would not want compromise quality or price. If we find an item organic with a realistic price tag, we stock organic. If a product seems too expensive to us from a consumer’s perspective, we will opt for non-organic. Our labels in store identify the organic or non-organic status and we display our food wholesalers’ certificates.

Is Nil Living vegan?

Nil Living provides both vegan and vegetarian products, we are not exclusively defined or certified as a brand. We have vegan staff, we have flexitarian staff, we have pescatarian staff and we have staff who consume animal products. We are not judgemental and welcome any individual. We welcome all dietary, ethical and religious choices; we label our products clearly.

Our detergents, hair and body care range are certified vegan and cruelty free, this is a key concept in selecting our suppliers. We do not carry any animal products in our food and beverage line at all and all are vegetarian or vegan.

We will sign post if a product is certified or not by our supplier. For example, if a food product is not certified as halal or kosher, despite being a meat free item, we will in no way categorise the item halal or kosher. We provide information from our suppliers; it is up to you to decide which is best for you.

Is Nil Living a franchise?

No, we are totally independent and local to Newcastle, we invested in this company from our own savings and were driven by our own passions. We are committed to supporting our local economy and challenging our current linear economy system

See the ‘About’ section for more information.

Is Nil Living hiring?

Not at the moment but we always accept applications, send us a CV to [email protected] and when we need to recruit, we will review primary candidates initially before a public advertisement. You can use our 'Contact' form as well as email address.

Does Nil Living offer student or NHS discounts?

We are thrilled to offer an exclusive discount to the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospital (NUTH) staff, show your valid photograph NUTH ID badge at check out in store for 10% off! Your ID must be in date and shown in person before the transaction, we do not allow shared use of ID, you must be the recognisable owner of the ID. We do not accept payroll or other electronic information to qualify. Please see the intranet 'Benefits Everyone' page for more information.

This offer is not applicable to other trusts or subcontracted NHS schemes in the region due to the exclusivity and person relationship we have with the trust. The NUTH exclusively advertise our business and in return we offer their staff a discount, this promotion is to assist us in local advertising. We are sorry to inform customers that no other NHS employee or students will receive a discount, we are always looking at ways to develop deals but until other firms begin supporting us we cannot commit to any further discount.

How is Nil Living maintaining health & safety during the COVID pandemic?

We comply with all health and safety guidelines, our staff are trained and certified in hand hygiene and food safety as standard, we have hand sanitiser throughout the store and food safe cleaning products.

We published a COVID policy for staff and customer safety 06/03/2020, this is not published but we are happy to share if requested. Understanding and compliance from our staff has been operating since.

Additional precautions were introduced 06/03/2020;

We do not allow browsing in store, customers are served outside to ensure our staff maintain social distancing of 2m.

We complete all refills for customers.

All containers and bottles being used for refills must be cleaned thoroughly inside or out or will be refused by our staff.

We continue to use metal single use tools and utensils in store with a strict washing policy.

All touch points in store are disinfected and sanitised on the hour, every hour of trading. We complete daily cleaning as normal before and after trading.

Contactless payment are preferred, we do accept cash and encourage hand sanitising before and after cash handling for our staff and customers.

We offer hand sanitiser outside for all customers and any passing locals to use free of charge to reduce cross contamination in the market.

Staff will wear face coverings if safe distancing cannot be maintained when outside the store, serving at counters, restocking and replenishing shelves, accepting deliveries and when taking our breaks.

We are proud to say we were one of the first traders in the market to introduce such precautions before the lockdown was announced, Lucy our founder was previously a nurse and still a registered healthcare professional, Lucy's knowledge and training has prepared us for the worsening pandemic situation.

Health, safety and hygiene is a key principle in our brand and always will be. We ensure staff and customer safety before any business.

We have introduced a Call + Collect service for those who wish to reduce time in public for swift visits and payments.

We have introduced a Click + Collect for those who wish to reduce time in public further.

We have introduced a Local Delivery service for those in isolation, vulnerable and to promote staying at home.

We are also included in the Grainger Delivery service, where customers can shop pre-packed boxes from us and many other local traders with delivery, see

Stay home and protect the NHS.