In 2008, Richard Eckersley was rubbing shoulders with some of the greats of soccer. As a player at Manchester United, Richard played and trained alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and Rio Ferdinand. Those players had achieved success before, and after Richard was at Manchester United, and even continue to do so.
Fast-forward to 2017, Richard Eckersley now owns and operates Earth.Food.Love, which is the first Zero-Waste shop in the United Kingdom. How did this journey come about? It all started with Richard leaving his childhood club and moving to Toronto.
In 2011, Richard joined Toronto FC in major league soccer. It was here that his change of direction happened. It was only after he came to Toronto that Richard realized the difference in lifestyle for soccer players in North America as opposed to England. “Players were being very careful with their money – it didn’t matter what clothes or shoes they wore, and that awakened me”, he said.
Already feeling disillusioned with soccer, Richard started educating himself by watching documentaries and reading constantly. That opened his world view, and the change was coming. After returning to the UK in 2015, Richard continued to play professionally till March this year.
After hanging up his boots, Richard moved to the small town of Totnes, in the south of England. There he opened up a shop which was based on something he was even more passionate about than soccer – climate change awareness. "Football's incredible in the sense that it connects people all over the world - there's so many fans out there that are so passionate about football.”
"But if we don't have a planet to live on, and it's not thriving and it's not healthy, then football doesn't matter, it doesn't make a difference anymore."
In his new shop, customers buy raw materials without packing. They have to bring their own bags, jars, bottles, or boxes. The idea came to Richard when he saw Original Unverpackt, a German supermarket that inspired the Zero-Waste movement. It’s a world away from his previous life of a soccer star in Manchester, Toronto, and New York City, but Richard says he has found something that makes him happy, and is passionate about. We all hope that Earth.Food.Love. has a successful game, and Richard and his family reach their goals!
Read more about Richard and his Six Tips to Reduce Rubbish here; http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/41307372
Follow WOC for more stories of Climate Heroes !