An exciting new eco-friendly and zero waste service has commenced in the Downpatrick area offering household and personal cleaning products.
‘The Refill Machine’ offers a unique service where customers can browse the online shop which offers liquid refills across a range of household cleaning products and personal cleaning items writes Laura Barr.
All refills are delivered in labelled glass or re-used plastic containers which are then swapped on your next delivery with full ones.
The old-fashioned milkman style of The Refill Machine helps reduce the consumption of single use plastic as well as an accumulation of bottles and containers in your home.
The woman behind the environmentally-sustainable and innovative business is Crossgar lady, Céire Gibney.
Céire felt inspired to take the enterprising leap of faith having lived in Canada where she first came across a zero-waste shop.
The former Assumption Grammar student felt it was a great way to help the environment – something she’s always been passionate about.
Upon returning home from Canada, Céire said it was fantastic to see a number of zero-waste shops had opened but options were still quite limited in rural areas.
Speaking to Down News about her motivation and reasons for starting the business, Céire said: “The pandemic made me re-evaluate my life and my impact on our world.
“We all saw nature’s reaction to ‘lockdown’ with lower greenhouse gas emissions and improvements in air quality, albeit temporary.
“However, there has also been negative impacts on the environment such as an increased use of single use plastics and who hasn’t seen used face masks lying on the roadside?
“We have all had to make adjustments to our way of life during the pandemic and I believe changing our shopping habits to more environmentally friendly ones is the way forward.”
Céire feels that recycling alone will not solve the plastic pollution crisis and to have any real impact, we need to reduce the amount of single-use plastics being generated in the first place.
She said: “While on furlough, I decided it was time to take a leap of faith and play a part in the fight against the plastic pollution our planet is drowning in.
“Zero waste options were limited in my local area and I felt a delivery service would fill the gap in the market.
“I wanted to make going plastic-free as easy and convenient as possible for people and I was quite nervous about starting it all and worried whether anybody would actually avail of the service.”
Speaking about her range of products, Céire said that it was a ‘win- win situation.
“The liquid refills are no more expensive than the plastic products you might buy in the supermarket and they come with the added benefit of being sulphate free, cruelty free, palm oil free, vegan and biodegradable.
“And although some of the items are a bit more expensive than their plastic counterparts, it is surely worth it to spend that little bit extra knowing you are not harming the environment.
“Yes, you could buy a plastic dish brush for £1 but at the end of its use it will end up in a landfill where it will never biodegrade, instead it will break down into smaller and smaller particles.
“The single greatest thing you can do for the planet is to stop and think before you purchase something.
“Do I really need this? Is this sustainable? Overconsumption and waste are such massive problems in our society today and every action you take, everything you buy, has an impact on the world around you.”
Céire has listed some ways to easily make a change at home.
“There are so many easy swaps we can make at home such as refills, shampoo bars, wooden toothbrushes, reusable facial rounds, reusable water bottles, biodegradable deodorant, plastic free toilet roll and eating a more plant-based diet as well as using locally sourced meat/food products.
“We can also avoid single use plastics such as plastic carrier bags, plastic cutlery, takeaway cups and plastic drinks bottles will all make a difference.
“We don’t need to buy fancy new reusable containers or utensils when a lot of the time we can use what we already have.
“Nobody is perfect but if we just made a few small changes it will all add up.”
Céire has been “absolutely delighted” with the response to The Refill Machine within her local community.
“So many people have expressed how excited they are to have a zero-waste service in their area, and it is great to see so many local people who are passionate about helping our planet.
“At the moment we are focusing on household cleaning and personal care items but plan on adding new exciting products in the future which will include loose dried food items.
“The thought of going zero waste can be overwhelming and can sometimes seem an impossible task but we have to start somewhere, and small changes really will make a big difference.”
Céire perfectly summed up her feelings towards people needing to make a change when it comes to our consumption of single-use plastic and how we can make a change with the following quote from American cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead.
“NEVER doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
To browse the full collection of items and refills go to: