Twig in the community – helping to make change

One year on from opening its doors and Cork’s first minimal waste store Twig-Refill is slowly but surely helping to change the way we think and shop. 

Plastic, packaging and waste have become ‘dirty’ words with the climate crisis facing our planet. This shift in thinking and move away from our disposable culture is being driven by small forward-thinking businesses like Twig.

In the words of the great William Shakespeasre ‘Though she be little, she is fierce!’

Twig-Refill creators Olive Finn and Andy Beattie – who also own independent healthfood shop The Olive Branch across the way – explain how it’s all about looking at your life and where and how you can make those changes to omit single-use plastic and cut down on waste.”

“Single-use plastic is the scourge of our planet and is destroying our beaches, seas and land and wildlife,” continues Olive “if we keep going the way we’re going, we won’t have anything to fight for in the future.”

Twig-Refill and The Olive Branch are doing what they can to make the transition themselves while encouraging their customers and local community to work with them.

This is a project of passion for Olive who has put a lot of time over the past year into education. “Every Thursday last term, I visited local schools talking to pupils and teachers about the small changes we can all make in our bathrooms and our kitchens to stop relying on single use plastic,” she explains. This new school year she has been invited to speak in schools further afield and is looking forward to the challenge.

Olive was also one of the main speakers at the She is Sustainable Cork conference in UCC in March. The sold-out event celebrated women working in sustainability in Cork. Olive spoke about how surviving as a small independent business is challenging but what separates small independent family run businesses from conglomerates is that businesses like Twig-Refill and The OliveBranch are in it to make a living, not a killing.

Working hard to be a part of the solution, Twig-Refill has linked in with organisations like Green Economy and Leave No Trace in order to educate themselves and and pass on this vital information to bring about change.

Over the winter months, a series of ‘Twig Talks’ will educate and inform the community on how to move forward through this crisis we find ourselves in.

In August, in association with West Cork Environmental Forum, Twig held a public talk on how to shop using less packaging. “The impact that packaging has on our domestic waste was explained and we learned more about composting properly and what really happens to all the stuff we throw away, says Olive. “Informational talks like these help everyone understand the urgency to make the necessary changes without intimidating people in to doing it.”

One of the most anticipated ‘Twig Talks’ talks of the year will be held on Friday, September 27. CEO of Green Economy Foundation, Cillian Lohan, who is very active at an EU and UN level, will give a talk entitled ‘Beyond the Slogans’. Cillian will be returning from the Climate Action Summit and Climate Youth Summit in New York, via a plenary session in Brussels, for the talk in Twig-Refill.

“Cillian is one of my heroes and I’m so delighted about this event on so many levels,” says Olive excitedly. “It’s going to be a great night.”

Cillian will talk about the need to look beyond the loud slogans and the headline grabbing actions in relation to the climate crisis and the extinction crisis that we are currently facing. 

“On the one hand as ordinary citizens we can feel disempowered and stressed by the enormity of the problems we face as a species. On the other hand we see the impact of many small actions, and the power of people coming together and demanding change,” he says.

“How do we figure out what we can do, whether it makes a difference, and how each small action can feed in to a wider need for change.”

Cilian will describe the systems in place, as he understands them, and provoke a discussion on how we can achieve change.

“People are definitely more open to change now,” says Olive. We’re seeing it in the increasing numbers coming through the door with containers to refill. From recycled pillowcases to wine bottles,” she adds smiling.

“It does take more time and you do need to be prepared but more and more people are starting to realise that it’s ok for shopping to take more time if it’s a more enjoyable and fulfilling shopping experience,” says Olive passionately. “There is a huge feelgood factor to this.”

Tips on Refill
Shopping from Twig

(check out the Twig-Refill YouTube video for more) 

When at home, always gather your jars, bags, boxes and put them all together to bring to the shops…

2. Try and figure out in advance how much you need so as to cut out waste

3. Bring whatever size container you want and always ask the shop assistant for help

4. Have a look around your bathroom and keep old shampoo, conditioner bottles to be refilled. Bathroom cleaners, toilet cleaner and all other household cleaning products are now available in bulk

5. Say NO to clingfilm, switch to Besswax Wraps, the perfect solution to keeping food fresh, school sandwiches etc

6. Say NO to plastic straws. Stainless Steel ones now widely available 

7. Bring your own container to the butcher and the fishmonger

8. Make your own Bread Bag…when you take the bread out at home, turn bag inside out and shake, fold up and put back in bag for next trip to the shops

9. Support your local family-run shops, engage with them on your journey toward zero waste, your local baker, deli, butcher, newsagent, flower shop, bookshop, healthfood shop all want to accommodate you.

10. Invest in a reusable water bottle and ask your local business to install refill stations. Remember your reusable keepcups instead of single-use disposable takeaway coffee cups, ask at your local cafe to support and bring about change to stop the disposable coffee cup culture, the answer is the REUSABLE cup 

11. Fall in love with SOAP… it solves so many problems, the simple bar of soap washes your body and your hair and once it’s gone it’s gone, no trace 

12. Support local food producers and makers. Less is More.

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

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