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Sticking the Boot(s) into Plastic Waste with New Sustainable Concept Store

Boots has been a mainstay of the British high street for 170 years. It’s sold us cough syrups and shower gels, prescriptions and personalised gifts, and its innovated services and products as its grown. Now, it’s taking on its biggest challenge yet: the selling of sustainability in a new concept store in London’s Covent Garden. And MIW has been helping, with the installation of a refill station, where customers can top up their water bottles for free.

Boots Store of the Future The outside interior of the new Boots Concept Store in London

We’ve all heard of the holistic approach to wellness. The concept that healing involves looking after the whole person, rather than just the single ailment. Well, this is sort of the idea behind the new Covent Garden Boots store.

Yes, for customers, the theme of the store is ‘wellness and high-octane beauty brands’. But rather than ceasing with the treatment of the person, in this store Boots is looking for ways to both enhance the customer experience and reduce the wider impact of their shopping trip.

So, what can you expect from the store?

While steps have been taken to phase out plastic shopping bags across the country since 2015, Boots have upped their game. No longer happy with simply charging £0.05 to deter the use of plastic bags, this retailer is leading the way with the introduction of brown paper bags instead.

Security guard drinking water from the new refill station.

The store will stock 32 new sustainable health and beauty brands.

New ‘prescription lockers’ will be trialled to help alleviate the stress of queuing – thus enhancing customer wellness.

In-depth staff training has taken place, so that customers have access to the best available help and advice.

And yes, the MIW Water Cooler Experts team has been helping out with the installation of a high-capacity public bottle filler. This not only ties in with the sustainability brief, but adds a new layer of service for customers.

The Boots Bottle Filler

Being mooted as a ‘store of the future’, with a strong emphasis on sustainability, all equipment installed in Boots Covent Garden needed to meet with some pretty strict criteria. This made finding the perfect bottle filler both a little bit harder and a little bit easier, narrowing the options to fit in with the brief. In the end, we selected a Halsey Taylor HTHB8-WF – HydroBoost (manufactured by Elkay) the WRAS-approved refill station is guaranteed to meet the stringent water authority guidelines relating to public drinking appliances, but it is also easy to use with hands free operation, wheelchair accessible, and aesthetically pleasing – which all public-facing equipment should be, if it can possibly help it!

Yellow bottle being refilled at the new bottle filler in Boots.

With an in-built bottle counter, everyone who tops up in Boots will be able to see how many bottles have been saved, and why their solitary act of refilling matters.

The Future

The thing with concept stores is that they can only succeed if the customer embraces them. For Boots, if the Covent Garden store goes well, it could open the potential for a further 78 branches to be converted into sustainability and wellness hubs. And this really matters. Because change, of any kind, can only really happen if it is facilitated.

We’re only ever going to move away from a state where we rely on single-use plastics, if alternatives are provided.

Sustainability is only going to become part of our culture if the products and services are available to support it.

Because, despite the old adage, willingness isn’t always enough. A way must be provided. And with this sustainability concept, Boots is providing that way. And the really encouraging thing here is that Boots is not alone in this drive to promote sustainability. John Lewis, Costa and Asda have all made the headlines for their attempts to cut plastic waste and find sustainable solutions.

Now, it’s down to all of us to show them – and the wider retail community – that there is a demand for it.