Independent healthfood shops in Ireland have always worked on the ethos that less is more. However, it’s only recently that the vast majority of Irish consumers have become more conscious about the amount of waste they produce and where it goes. Shockingly, we are among the highest waste producers in Europe.
With this new-found awareness about sparing our planet and our wallet and the Irish Zero Waste movement picking up pace, comes an opportunity for small healthfood shops to expand on their environmentally friendly ethos.
One such like-minded business is The Olive Branch in Clonakilty. Owned and run by Olive Finn and Andy Beattie, this establishment at the heart of the Clonakilty community has seen a lot of change since in first opened in 2004. However thoughout it all, Olive and Andy’s commitment and passion for what they do remains the same. Encouraged by the public’s growing awareness about producing less waste, when the opportunity arose this year to take on the premises opposite The Olive Branch, they jumped at the chance to acquire the space and offer their customers a service that would allow them cut down on their use of plastic and other waste.
Still in the making, Twig Refill Station, the offshoot of The Olive Branch, will complement the existing store, which has always offered a small refill service for household goods.
“It’s an extension of The Olive Branch where we’ve always cared about using less packaging,” explains Olive “but the new space has given us the opprtunity to go fully packaging free. It will also be fully organic and customers will be able to bulk buy goods.”
Customers of Twig Refill Station, which is due to open at the end of June, will be encouraged to bring their own containers but the store will also offer compostable paper bags.
Twig will sell legumes, grains, seeds, nuts, pulses, dried fruits, pastas, herbs, spices, looseleaf teas, flour and baking goods and liquid goods such as oils, vinegars and syrups. Non-food products will include cleaning products, cloth sandwich wraps made in Ireland, metal straws, wooden toothbrushes, stainless steel shaving goods, sanitary products made locally, mason jars, household cleaning products and shower products. There will also be an extensive skincare range, all of which will be refillable.
Customers will also be able to make their own nut butter and refill their water bottles in-store.
“It is a different type of shopping experience,” explains Olive. “You will need more time and you will need to be organised but it will be a much more sociable and enjoyable practice.” Growing up on Main Street in Clonakilty, Olive remembers a time when families didn’t do a weekly shop. “You ran out for what you needed when you needed it,” she says nostalgically. “We’d get the tea across the road in Hurley’s, the washing powder in Chiddicks on the corner, the bananas and so on in Kitty Donovan’s next door and Vincent Bennett’s place provided everything else. I loved the way that everyone knew everything about you and everyone was watching out for you. That’s what I love about The Olive Branch too.”
Follow The Olive Branch Health Food Emporium on Facebook for more details on events and the opening of Twig.