Excess packaging…. its everywhere! From the everyday products we buy in the supermarket, that daily coffee we treat ourselves to, or the plastic wrapping explosion that occurs every Christmas, Easter, birthday, wedding … you get the idea.
But while packaging can play an important role in preserving quality and communicating brand values, our love affair with excess packaging has come at a high price. The biggest issue is that plastic never really goes away. Sure some gets recycled but most ends up in landfill or as litter in our soil, rivers, lakes and seas.
PurposeHub got the chance to chat with the brilliant Íde Mhic Gabhann who, after becoming frustrated at the lack of packaging free options, set about launching Bring Your Own, a market based shop where customers can buy a growing range of products completely package free! It’s safe to say Íde’s passion is infectious and we can’t wait to visit a Bring Your Own stall soon!
PH: First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Íde: I have travelled a lot in my adult life, and have always been a bit ashamed at the amount of stuff that I threw out and replaced when moving, so when I knew I was moving back to Ireland in 2016 I decided I was going to do a “buy nothing new” year to cut down on the amount of stuff that I would ultimately put in the bin.
This led me to look at the packaging waste I was creating too, so I stopped buying disposables and looking at sourcing whatever I could package free. It escalated as the year went on leading to moving away from animal products, finding uses for the parts of food I hadn’t been eating and dabbling in minimalism.
PH: Why has packaging become such an issue lately?
Íde: Recently we have become obsessed with convenience, which means that everything is being over packaged whether that’s to make the products easy to pick up, easy to carry or easy portion. However this packaging is useful for only moments, after which it becomes useless and ultimately becomes a burden on the consumer who has to dispose of it, on the community that has to deal with it, and the environment that suffers the consequences of this over production.
PH: How did Bring Your Own start and how has it grown since you began?
Íde: Bring Your Own was born from frustration from lack of choice and lack of space. I had been buying everything in bulk (to minimise packaging) as there were few options for loose dry goods in Dublin. But this meant that I was limited to only a small selection of foods and even then I found myself running out of kitchen space!
I had seen shops abroad where you could buy as much or as little of a huge selection of food products package free. At the same time I knew that lots of people in Ireland were in the same situation as me and were looking for more zero waste options.
Bring Your Own originally started with 16 products at one location, but people wanted more, both more products and multiple locations, so we are now busy looking for more suppliers and markets!
PH: Tell us a little bit about how the Bring Your Own market stalls work.
Íde: As the name suggests you bring your own container (jar, tub, bag) which we weigh for you and then fill with as much of the product you want as you like, which means you don’t fill up your bin with useless packaging and aren’t restricted to standard package sizes which also minimises food waste.
PH: Where do you see Bring Your Own in five year’s time?
Íde: When I look at the future I don’t see a need for Bring Your Own, supermarkets and health food stores will have unpackaged aisles or maybe even entire shops where everything can be bought loose and people can reuse the same containers over and over again.
PH: What’s the one simple change we can all make?
Íde: Take advantage of the unpackaged food that is available in your neighbourhood, from whatever few vegetables are available in your supermarket, to preferentially shopping in markets and independent shops that have more choice of loose goods. By buying unpackaged we send a message that this the way we want to shop, so the more we do this the more options that will become available.
PH: Finally, where can we find Bring Your Own?
Íde: The first Saturday of each month we will be at the Cottage Market, Newbridge, and the last Saturday of each month we will be at the Bushy Park Market, Terenure. We go to the car boot sales at the Botanic Hockey club while we are looking for a more structured base on the Northside, and hopefully we’ll be adding more locations soon!
If you want to keep up with Íde and Bring Your Own, check out their Facebook page.