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'Nothing is wasted': This second-hand shop is helping the planet - one missing button at a time

Sales at the Pre-Loved Boutique go to a great cause, and help support Ireland’s circular economy.

Image: Monika Wisniewska

Source: Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications/YouTube

“YOU MIGHT LOOK at something in your house and say, ‘That’s no longer any good to me.’ But it comes in here and it’s good for somebody else.”

Eileen Finan is project co-ordinator at Lus na Gréine Family Resource Centre in Granard, Co Longford, and is part of the team behind the centre’s volunteer-led fundraising shop, the Pre-Loved Boutique.

The ethos of the boutique, founded in 2013, is based on reducing, reusing and repairing – whether it’s a cardigan that’s fixed up with a new button or a table that’s revived with a coat of paint. Donations from the public are sorted by the shop’s team, and then repaired or altered as needed, before being put out on display:

“A pair of jeans may turn into a bag, or there may be different alterations that we make,” says Fagan.

For furniture donations, everything from fixing broken table legs to re-varnishing chairs happens with the help of the local Men’s Shed group.

Screenshot 2021-12-06 at 12.56.24 The local Men's Shed tackling some furniture repairs. Source: YouTube/DECC

The shop offers a powerful example of what the circular economy model can achieve: donated and upcycled items are sold to the public, and the funds are used to support Lus na Gréine’s community projects, from bereavement counselling to music workshops.

As well as having a direct positive effect on the local community, initiatives like this one are part of Ireland’s journey to tackling climate change too. Manufacturing accounts for a significant segment of Ireland’s CO2 emissions, and the less we need to make, the lower the impact on the environment.

The Government’s Climate Action Plan was published last month and highlights key actions around reducing waste and promoting a circular economy. These include the introduction of a deposit return scheme in 2022, a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030, and the elimination of non-recyclable or non-reusable plastic packaging, also by 2030. 

These actions, alongside the forthcoming Circular Economy Strategy and Circular Economy Bill, will support everyone from individuals to large companies in taking a more mindful, sustainable approach to how we make, consume and use clothes, appliances, furniture and more. 

Minister of State for the Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth, outlines the benefits of a circular economy and the power of projects like the Pre-Loved Boutique:

Becoming circular requires change at every level of our society, but there are huge financial and environmental benefits. Community initiatives are at the forefront of this shift.

It’s our duty to build a sustainable future for generations to come, says Eileen Finan:

Everyone matters, and every decision matters, so we have to take into account all of that. If we don’t, our young people… won’t forgive us. They’ll look back and say, ‘What did you do?’

To hear more about how one community is helping to build a more sustainable future for all, watch the video here

You can read more about the Climate Action Plan here. And for more information on how the government is supporting Ireland’s journey to a circular economy, click here.

Sponsored by:

The Department of Environment, Climate & Communications

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