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New life for plastic-free store in Nairn High Street

By Donald Wilson

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Amanda Macarthur. Picture: Callum Mackay
Amanda Macarthur. Picture: Callum Mackay

A prominent local clothing store on Nairn High Street, Burnett & Forbes, has taken on a new life when after a major refit it reopened as a ‘zero-waste’ store – The Highland Weigh.

Managing director Amanda MacArthur, who lives in Inverness, is embarking on a ‘back to the future’ principle of retailing where customers bring their own containers into the store at the corner of Acre Street and High Street – thus reducing the amount of plastic in circulation.

She describes how the first real change in her lifestyle to make a more sustainable future.

“I bought a bamboo toothbrush and I discovered that this humble purchase was the most common first buy on a journey to reducing plastic. Such a small thing, but it led me to think ‘what next’?”

Amanda said she found it a challenge reducing her plastic consumption shopping in the Highlands but was spurred on by the snippets of information she came across: “microplastics in our food chain; the land mass required to produce the food that’s thrown away every year (the size of China) and the mere 12 minutes that the average single-use plastic bag is used for (which will take 1000 years to decompose).”

Her mission became to became to create a store that offered plastic-free food, toiletries and cleaning products. To reduce food wastage by allowing customers to buy just the quantities they need.

“I have family in Nairn and from childhood my sister and I spent hours on the beach and visiting the High Street.”

The former Burnett & Forbes clothing store and its prime location has been a feature on the High Street for more over 60 years.

When it went on the market earlier this year she took the plunge and has leased the unit. Extensive alterations including a log-burning fire where customers can enjoy a coffee and cake after investing in package free purchases including peanut butter customers can make themselves on the premises.

An attractive atrium roof light has also been exposed adding natural daylight to the shop.

Amanda’s professional career has primarily involved being a nurse with a specialist interest in diabetes.

The Highland Weigh was born from her own desire to reduce the amount of plastic she used, combined with a passion for high quality local produce. “Nairn was the obvious choice for the first store,” she said.

“We don’t profess to being a new concept. It’s an old concept, that our parents and grandparents will recall but with a modern twist with self-serve scales, gravity dispensers and the peanut butter machine.”

The Highland Weigh is a social enterprise and they have chosen 30 core products to sell at a reduced price so it doesn’t have to be a choice between affordability and plastic-free.

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