Prepping for plastic free


WEIGHT GAINS Refills are available at Wild Rocket in Ballina, No Plastic Thanks in Castlebar and PAX in Westport, where goods are scooped or poured into customers’ reused containers and sold by weight.

Green Living

McKinley Neal

We’ve really enjoyed the summer vibe that’s in the air lately, amongst locals and seasonal visitors. It’s such a relief for most people to be out and about more, with perhaps a few less things to worry about and more time in the day for leisure activities.
We’re still in the midst of Plastic Free July, but I found even in my house we needed to reorganise to make it easier not to forgot our reusables before we walk out the door. So, we have lined up the essentials we need to have with us in plain sight.
First, there’s a row of water bottles, two coffee cups for the adults and a couple of stainless steel containers next to the back kitchen door which we can grab and use for a day out in the garden or on a bit of a road trip. We keep one or two containers or reusable silicone bags pre-filled with snacks like nuts and dried fruit, to ensure no one gets ‘hangry’ before the next meal.
I also filled a small drawstring cotton bags with a couple of utensils and handkerchiefs – instead of wet wipes we just pour a bit of water onto the handkerchief to wipe away the evidence of ice cream cones or other treats, or to sooth skinned knees.
And there’s a basket with a few tote bags in it, one to carry our stuff and another tucked in for other purchases along the way.
We have a larger shopping basket with a few drawstring bags at the ready as well, so that when we do our plastic free shopping at a farmer’s market or a supermarket, we can pack in our goods loose.

We keep a few empty containers at the ready for refill shops like ours as well. The great thing is that more shops like PAX are opening around the country, so you are likely to come across others while in other counties (Dublin, Wicklow, Cork, Galway and recently Cavan).
Special mention must go to other businesses in Mayo that you can easily check out: Wild Rocket, a shop in Ballina that sells ethically made foods and offers some refills, and No Plastic Thanks, currently operating a market stall in Castlebar with a shop soon to open.
Now’s the time to try refills if you have not yet done so. Empty any kind of container, rinse it out and let it dry thoroughly, and take it to get it refilled at a store that offers this service. For many people, an empty washing up liquid bottle is a great first option, or porridge is always popular, and you can use the bag or tube the last brand you bought came in refilled (you don’t have to use glass jars!).
With nearly all goods, it’s cheeper to have them refilled, as you save the packaging costs from the original purchase. Herbs and spices can be significantly cheaper to refill, and I bet you will notice the difference in taste and aroma, too!

McKinley Neal co-runs PAX Whole Foods & Eco Goods, a minimal-waste shop in Westport offering bulk organic foods, reusable goods, household products, eco-friendly personal care items and gifts.