Posted: Wed 22nd Jun 2022
Sharon Keilthy is an environmental activist and the founder of social enterprise eco toy store Jiminy.ie. Since starting the business in 2018 Sharon has run a zero-waste business and has plenty of tips to give businesses and households who are getting involved with Plastic Free July.
When Sharon started Jiminy she made the decision from day one to have no bin in the warehouse. No bin means zero waste as they had to engineer ideas to repurpose any packaging they did receive in deliveries.
They told all of their suppliers not to send any plastic packaging. All packaging was reused when sending their own orders and any filling they received was reused in their own orders.
Two things which could not be recycled were the backing of the DPD labels, which Sharon took home to her own bin, and the pallet wrap which was given to another small business which had the means to recycle it through refuse collection.
“You can reframe your thinking about your business if you start from a point of view of ‘we won’t have a bin’. Suddenly it pushes you to start refusing the stuff you don’t need and can’t reuse and to really start thinking about single use disposables,” says Sharon.
As a business, Sharon says you have the power to make the changes we need to see in the world when it comes to virgin plastic use.
“You have a lot of power as a purchaser because you are buying large quantities of things. Our standard purchase order text says, please do not use any plastic in the packaging and if you feel any plastic is needed please call before packing,” she says.
Be fully aware of with what and how the products that you are purchasing are made. Challenge suppliers on their products and offer solutions where you can.
Sharon found one of the companies she was looking to do business with was using virgin polyester stuffing in its soft toys, instead of recycled polyester.
“But since we asked the question, they looked around and found a supplier of 100% polyester stuffing and they are going to switch their entire range over,” she explains.
“There are really nice solutions out there now. We use brown paper packing tape which works perfectly well – it can go into the recycling bin, it’s made from plants not from petroleum,” she says.
“We use green jiffy bags – they are just like jiffy bags but instead of bubble wrap padding they use shredded cardboard instead.”
“And to fill space inside boxes we use shredded cardboard boxes or recycled brown paper. There’s really no need for bubble wrap, or sealed air or anything like that,” she adds.
As many of us will be taking a break from the business to go on well-earned holidays, Sharon has given us a few tips on how to ensure you bring your ‘zero waste goodness’ from business mode to holiday mode.
Bring your own cutlery in a cloth bag. This prevents the use of single use items if you get takeaways. Use the cloth bag as a napkin and then everything goes home and into the household washing at the end of the trip.
Bring your own water bottles. Ask deli counters, shops and garages to top up your water bottles from their taps if there are no water stations available.
Pack well. Bring toys for the kids to prevent them from wanting to buy plastic toys from tourist shops. Jiminy does a range of plastic free beach toys for a sustainable seaside trip.
Give yourself some free passes. Don’t get stressed over your sustainable choices if there really isn’t a good option for you to take. It’s a journey – do your best, shop consciously, ask for better, but give yourself a free pass if you do need to buy the plastic ball if it is going to make the difference between a great day at the beach or a bad day at the beach. Just make sure the ball goes home with you.