AMBITIOUS plans to set up the first package-free supermarket have taken a huge step forward after organisers raised nearly £44,000.
Hundreds of generous donors handed over the cash in 56 days for the Hampshire Terrace-registered Package Free Larder, set up by 38-year-old Delphine Laveyne and a team of others.
Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson posted a video this week showing the organisation around an empty shop in Southsea that could be used as the shop's base.
The shop, which would be the first of its type in the city, would be run as a not-for-profit social enterprise, with volunteers needed to help.
In a message posted on the organisation's website, the group said: 'We are blown away by the generous support we received from our local community and others around the world.
'Our crowdfunding campaign for The Package Free Larder officially ended yesterday at 8pm (August 13), receiving a total of 905 donations in 56 days.’
It added: ‘Thanks to your support, we surpassed our original £40,000 target and raised an incredible £43,765. This money will be used to build Portsmouth’s fist community plastic-free supermarket & zero-waste hub, a project that will help our seaside city reduce its reliance on single-use plastic.’
Portsmouth has one of the worst recycling rates in Britain, despite recent improvements. Between January and March last year the rate was 21.8 per cent, but has now increased to 24.74 per cent in the period this year.
On its crowd-funding page The Package Free Larder team said: ‘Our goal is to eliminate packaging at the source and put power back into the hands of the consumer by making plastic-free shopping easy and affordable.’
Reacting to the successful news on Facebook, Southsea Greenhouse’s Sue Stokes said: ‘We will come to the city just to shop with you guys (on the train mostly) Southsea’s Green are proud to have supported this brilliant campaign - what a win for the city and the planet.’
Matthew Fleet added: ‘This is brilliant news, very excited.’
The team, which sprang up from Zero Waste Portsmouth run by Delphine, is due to have a public meeting in October to discuss the plans. No date has yet been set.