Olive’s ‘refill station’ aims to cut down on use of plastics

The owner of a West Cork health food shop is taking her campaign against wasteful packaging a giant step further.

Olive Finn, owner of The Olive Branch. Picture: Denis Boyle

Olive Finn is about to launch an unusual service — a “refill station”.

It will allow customers to fill up their own containers with everything from food to laundry liquid and even whip up their own nut butter!

Olive, who has been running The Olive Branch health shop in Clonakilty’s Spiller’s Lane for the past 14 years, will next month launch her shop’s ‘little sister’, The Twig Refill Station, a store entirely dedicated to refills.

Customers can bring their own bags and containers or avail of the shop’s 100% recyclable brown-paper carriers to stock up with bulk buys of everything from herbs, spices, fruit, nuts pulses, grains, legumes, olive oils, apple cider vinegars and on-tap Kombucha, to chemical-free household cleaning products, shampoo and skin-care.

“Small independent health food shops have always allowed people to order things in bulk, but we are now offering a full service where people can bring in their own containers,” said Olive.

“We will have walls of dispensers and we will weigh the products,” she said, adding that in a bid to help reduce the number of plastic water bottles being used, the shop would also be offering a special water-refill station, where customers can purchase 100% reverse osmosis water.

“There will also be a nut-butter maker and people can bring in their container and make their own nut butters,” she said.

The Twig Refill Station, which has to date resulted in the creation of two jobs, would be located directly opposite the main shop, and remain closely connected to it.

“This is a project of passion to us; it’s about making a change. 

“I would like to encourage more independent, family-run shops into the town centre, and keep Clonakilty town centre buzzing,” she said.

One of her dreams was to eventually see people cycling into The Twig to stock up on refills with their bags and backpacks on their backs.

Olive said The Twig, set to open in mid-May, is her personal contribution to working towards eliminating waste and helping society make progress towards a zero waste policy as advocated by the increasingly popular Zero Waste Movement.

“You don’t have to look very far to see the damage we have caused to our planet by the over-use of single-use plastic.”

Independent health food shops all over the country, she said, were making similar changes to the way they conducted their businesses.

“We have to go right down to the core of the issue and simply stop using plastic — for example, plastic water bottles — because I don’t think people realise just how much plastic we use.”

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