AN Oxford Covered Market boutique has reduced its use of plastic packaging by 80 per cent since Christmas, but the owner’s goal is to promote completely package-free options based on traditional soap and shampoo bars.

Resembling rather one of the magical ingredients stores from the Harry Potter books than a 21st century company with a large online operation, the Oxford Soap Company is ultimately modern when it comes to taking part in responding to the climate emergency.

Since January, the shop’s creator and owner Ervin Tomkys Valteri has moved his business from plastic to aluminium packaging.

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He explained: “It all started with the pump we use to get liquid soap out of the bottle. It’s made of different materials, soft and hard plastic and therefore it isn’t recyclable.

“We decided to offer our customers an option of getting the pump as an extra or purchasing them separately, so they can reuse them endlessly with fully recyclable, aluminium bottles of our liquid soaps.”

Since then he has replaced 80 per cent of the plastic bottles and jars used in the shop.

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But Mr Valteri intends to go further, in the near future introducing either a refilling-station or a scheme under which customers would be able to return the aluminium bottles and get refund for doing so.

He explained, that as packaging is a big part of his costs, it makes sense for everyone.

But what Mr Valteri is really passionate about are traditional soap bars which do not need any packaging at all.

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The businessman explains: “We’re reinventing the wheel here, because soap on the rope was popular in the 70s and in the 80s, and now it’s coming back. You would not believe how much of those I am selling. I literally ran out of the shampoo bars yesterday, those here I’ve manufactured this morning.

“The secret is, that soap bars are one of few solutions which allow the customers to help the environment and their wallets at the same time. It is so because liquid soaps are made from those bars, which are cooked and then dissolved with water.

“The price of a bar and of a bottle of liquid soap is exactly the same, but from one bar I get two bottles of liquid.

“And for the customer the difference is even greater, because in usage one bar equals to as many as four bottles of liquid.

“On top of that, the rope is natural fibre, so it will naturally decompose.

“And we use only British essential oils, because plantations of lavender, roses and other flowers are great for the bees.”

The Oxford Soap Company toiletries are available online at