Together, we can bring about real change and embrace sustainability

April 5th, 2018 5:05 PM

By Emma Connolly

Hannah Dare of Organico in Bantry stopped selling water in plastic bottles eight years ago and is now creating a Zero Waste Zone. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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Organico, Bantry 

(organic food and healthcare products)


IN business for 25 years, this family enterprise has always worked hard to reduce waste and is now going one step further with a new dedicated ‘Zero Waste Zone.’

 ‘We stopped selling water in plastic bottles eight years ago and we use compostable packaging for all our takeaway foods,’ says Hannah Dare. ‘We have never had plastic shopping bags and we use a lot of recycled packaging for our online shop. We sell Keep Cups, and cloth bags for bread and vegetables. We sell nearly all our fruit and veg loose – and of course it is all organic, which is much better for the environment.

‘We now want to take a big step forward in an attempt to both take responsibility for our own actions, and make everyone think a little more about waste. We are setting up Organico’s Zero Waste Zone and the idea is to ‘Refill, Reuse, Rethink’. We hope this initiative will help us all as a community to rethink our approach to shopping, which will reduce our impact on our environment.’

Essentially, the new zone will be a ‘self service’ area with dispensers to allow customers serve the exact amount they want – whether it’s nuts, seeds or rice etc.

‘We are going to strongly encourage people to bring their own containers to refill, and we’ll have scales in the area for everyone to weigh and label their goods before going to the checkout,’ says Hannah.

‘Over the last number of years, we have become more and more aware as a business of where we can make a difference in terms of reducing waste, energy consumption, and opening a Zero Waste area has been a dream for a long time, because we hope it will have a snowballing effect throughout our business. It’s trending around the world now for very good reasons – we simply cannot carry on consuming and creating waste, regardless of the consequences for our planet and our future generations. But trying to cut down on plastic is very difficult. 

‘We hope this will make it easier for people to find ways of just buying what they need, and refilling containers to reduce plastic consumption.’

She thinks the public are becoming increasingly aware that nothing actually gets thrown away.

‘There is no ‘away’. We used to simply export our plastics to China, but since they decided to stop the import of plastic waste, we are all going to have to think a little more about where our waste goes. The only solution is for everyone to pay attention and create less waste.’


The Olive Branch 


Emporium, Clonakilty)


OLIVE Finn, co-owner of The Olive Branch, and her team are gearing up to open a dedicated refill station for all household and skincare needs, to reduce plastic packaging.

She explains: ‘Our passion and commitment to providing our local community with decent, organic, ethically-sourced foods is our main criteria, and it has been for decades. Recycled packaging has always been a number one priority in independent healthfood shops, and a refill service for chemical-free household cleaning products has always been here. Trading fairly is most important to us.’

The ‘mother store’ on Spillers Lane already provides unwrapped fruit and vegetables, and they are now moving to remove as much plastic packaging from their business as possible, through the upcoming opening of Twig.

‘We plan on having food, grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and legumes in bulk bags, allowing the customer to bring their own container and get what they need. We also plan on having oils, vinegar, soy/tamari, kombucha on tap, and a service providing water to fill your own container to avoid buying plastic bottles,’ says Olive, who says the project will evolve as it goes along.

Twig, Olive hopes, will help address more than just environmental issues.

‘As much as society needs to address the awful issues with plastic packaging and the misuse of the term ‘recycling’, this project is about much more. It’s also about our town centres and keeping them alive and interesting, and making sure there is reason for people to come into the centres. 

‘Setting up Twig is a project of passion for us. The information is out there, we all need to work together to protect our beautiful, but sadly abused, environment. We are so grateful to the amazing reaction and support we get from our lovely customers and I believe we will see many more projects like this happening in other towns.’


Goleen Harbour Project


MATT Mills and his partner Melanie run the Goleen Harbour Project which they describe as a ‘place to stay, to relax, a place to have adventures and to learn; a place apart on the Wild Atlantic Way.’

Everything they do is guided by three objectives: to improve the biodiversity and the environment in which they are working; to create sustainable local employment and strengthen the local economy and to encourage healthy, vibrant, sustainable communities.

Currently, they run an organic farm which supplies local restaurants and shops, and have a harbour-side caravan and tent pitches. However, they have plans for three luxury ‘geodesic’ dome tents on decking, with outdoor kitchens that will blend into their clifftop setting on the edge of Goleen Harbour and Ballydevlin Bay, complimented by a clifftop hot tub.

‘We will also have two contemporary, high spec, wooden eco cabins and a 3km harbourside loop walk open to the public,’ said Matt. 

The idea for Goleen Harbour came to Matt in 2014 when he saw the site for sale and recognised its potential.

Matt, who moved here from the UK in 1999 said: ‘I had spent a lot of my time over the previous 15 years working in environmental education and the promotion of sustainable, resilient communities, largely through our group Sustain West Cork. In 2005 we put on a weekend festival in Bantry featuring, amongst others, Lord David Puttnam, Friends of the Earth founder Jonathan Porritt and Christy Moore. 

‘We planted community orchards in Bantry, Dunmanway and Skibbereen. After delivering Cultivate’s Community Powerdown course in Ballydehob and Dunmanway, I ran it in Kilcrohane. This led to co-founding the Sheep’s Head Producers group. I’ve also been programming and speaking on these issues at festivals such as Electric Picnic, Body & Soul and Cork’s own Townlands, for over 10 years. At the same time I’ve been involved in community eco tourism projects, such as the creation of the Sheep’s Head cycle route with the Sheep’s Head Way for whom I was part of the Eden Award-winning team, presenting on Sustainability.’

Matt said he could see the coastal farm was a potential project that could make the business financially sustainable, along with benefiting the environment. 

‘My partner Melanie Furniss is a bodywork/ massage therapist, and gardener – again skills that compliment the development and delivery of the project.’

Matt feels there’s a tremendous opportunity to establish Ireland, particularly the west coast, as the eco adventure playground of Europe: ‘Eco tourism remains a very strong growth sector and that is recognised by Fáilte Ireland. However, the development of the sector is being hampered  by the lack of joined-up thinking by our government.’

But he says he has been encouraged in the last couple of years to see that people are reacting in large numbers in a positive way with actions that will help the environment, including the movement against single use plastic bottles and a rise in veganism.

‘We are starting the planting of the trees paid for by our crowdfunder this weekend,’ he said, adding the public are very welcome to come and help. ‘Bring spades, boots with tough soles, and a bite to eat. We’ll be gathering at our entrance at 11am but visitors are welcome anytime. Just call me on 087 7990607 and I can meet people. We will be planting all the following week so there is plenty of time to get involved.’

 To get involved, follow Goleen Harbour on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or see

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