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Up and Coming: reuzi founder Pat Kane

For this week’s Up and Coming feature, we sat down with Pat Kane – who founded environmentally focused company reuzi in 2018.

Pat’s personal sustainability journey began when she was shocked by the amount of rubbish produced by just herself, her husband and their newborn baby.

After taking the initiative to adjust her lifestyle, she established reuzi to promote The Power of One – which encourages individuals to contribute to our planet, no matter how big or small the contribution.

reuzi.ie stocks everything you need to adjust to a more sustainable-oriented lifestyle.

Just because it’s eco-friendly doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish – the website stocks everything from colourful water bottles and travel coffee cups to stationary and make-up brushes.

Find out more about Pat Kane and reuzi in our exclusive chat below:

Q. How did reuzi come about?

Before starting my entrepreneurial journey, I held various executive positions in the corporate world. I was a senior executive at Digicel in the Caribbean and Central America, as well as Director of Customer Experience at Paddy Power Betfair plc.

It was only when I became a mom for the first time that I realised the amount of rubbish we were going through every day – from plastic wraps and bottles to random boxes and the hundreds of nappies!

I remember thinking, ‘if just two adults and a tiny baby can generate so much waste, imagine an office or a school?’… My initial reaction was to educate myself on recycling and composting. Our end goal as a family has been to replace everything that won’t be recycled or composted with reusable alternatives. It was because of my personal journey that I decided to launch reuzi in 2018.

You will never find me ‘preaching’ about sustainability; I want to educate people about our climate challenges and how one person can make a difference by swapping ‘dirty disposables’ for eco-friendly, durable, reusable products. I want people to address our over-consumption of single-use items. 

My business and life motto is ‘The Power of One’ – one individual, one change, one step at a time, helps to create one better planet!

I want to get to know people in the local community and to find out more about their own ways to create a positive impact and share our knowledge to become more eco-friendly together.

Q. You’ve spoken about driving your family towards a more sustainable lifestyle, what steps did you introduce in your home?

It all started back when our first baby was just a few months old. We decided to sit down and run a ‘life audit’, a.k.a. look into the areas where we could do better e.g.: reducing our plastic consumption, wasting less food, walking more and driving less.

Q. What is the first sustainable step you would encourage people who want to begin a more sustainable lifestyle to take?  

For me, the first step will always be to use what you have. Some people assume that I will say something like ‘Replace your conventional products with sustainable ones!’ but nope, this is not a sustainable move! Our society has been told that it’s ok to get rid of stuff, or just buy a new one and that’s ok. But by getting rid of existing items that can still do the job for you, you will in fact be generating more waste; so make sure to use whatever you own as much as possible and then, if a certain item needs replacement, consider a sustainable alternative. And remember – sometimes the most sustainable thing you can do is to look for a pre-loved item; from cars to clothing and everything in between, pre-loved is always a good way to get what you want while reducing the impact of your choices on the planet.

Q. What do you believe the ‘stigma’ around sustainability is? 

That sustainability is only for ‘eco warriors’. Sustainability goes far beyond our ecologies, our natural world. A truly sustainable society is one that cares for its individuals – their education, and their well-being. So, next time you hear someone saying ‘Ah, this sustainability thing isn’t for me..,’ ask them to think again. After all, we all want a fairer, more just space where all humans can thrive, right?

Q. reuzi offers ‘house calls’ as a service – can you explain how you help households who are trying to go green? 

Whether you want to contribute to environmental preservation or just reduce your expenses, going green is the perfect solution. By making your home sustainable and eco-friendly, not only will you decrease your household’s ecological footprint, but you’ll also lower your energy and water bills, increase your savings and create a healthy environment for you and your family. I work with families and individuals to identify where most of their waste comes from, and then look for ways to help them reduce their carbon footprint.

Q. Are there any products you’d love to introduce to the reuzi range, but haven’t gotten around to yet? 

I’d absolutely love to create a set of tools to help individuals reduce their food waste,  including reuzi’s own composting bin! Food waste is a deeply unethical issue. In Ireland, a quarter of our waste is food waste, and we must do better. Understanding our consumption habits, planning our purchases (and sticking to the plan when out shopping!) and avoiding wastage by using every single bit of our food left in our fridges are some great ways to help.

Q. Households generate a lot of waste around Christmas time, what are your solutions to this? 

Christmas, and the build-up to the big day, is arguably the most wasteful time of year.

The good news is that there are a few simple things we can do to limit some of our unnecessary waste at this time of year; how many can you try? 

  • Gifts

This Christmas, I’d to encourage you to focus on sustainable consumables and/or experiences.

Experiences are a lovely way to say ‘I care about you’ and ‘I want to spend time with you’. They can be anything from a date night, to hobby classes, a spa day or a trip to a nearby park or beach. Personally, as a mum of two little ones, I’d kill for the dinner and movies combo!

If you would rather give someone an actual gift, I’d suggest that you choose consumables. Consumables are those delightful little gifts that will please even your fussiest pals. Think tins of home-baked goods, luxury candles, fruit baskets, homemade body scrubs and lotions, soap bars, boxes of chocolates. A lot of enjoyment and no waste left behind, count me in!

It’s always wise to talk about gift-wrapping. Our aim here is to avoid the conventional, sparkly wrapping paper. Use newspaper or brown paper to create a unique look. Add dried cinnamon or orange slices and use twine to keep it all together; how beautiful is that? Oh, and as for the card; a handwritten note is a lovely touch. You could even get the kids to become the official card illustrators! 

  • Decorations

How would you feel about making your own Christmas decorations this year instead of buying new? Up-cycled decorations can be made from materials found all around your home; all you need is to use your creativity.

Cut out stars from old cardboard boxes and get the little ones to decorate them, make garlands using popcorn and dried fruit, bake gingerbread cookies to hang on your tree or, if you’re into crochet, why not create a bunch of lovely little ornaments to hang on your tree?

The internet is full of great ideas (oh hi, Pinterest!), and the sky is the limit when it comes to using what you already have at home to decorate your home for Christmas.

Now, if you don’t fancy making decorations, check out charity shops and free-cycle groups on Facebook, as these are hidden treasure chests of undiscovered Christmas decorations calling out to be reused.

For those into the big countdown, make or buy a reusable advent calendar. This can be reused each year and filled with your own treats!

  • Food

When it comes to food, it’s very easy to overbuy and consequently, overspend at Christmas.

Firstly, I’d highly recommend you plan your meals properly – planning can be boring and time consuming; however it’s essential to avoid waste.

Important questions to ask yourself are: ‘How many guests are coming?’, ‘Are there any dietary restrictions?’, ‘How can I source as much as possible in a package-free way?’, ‘Do we need to prepare a different meal for the kids?’.

Another very helpful piece of advice is to ask people to bring their favourite dish with them and at the end of the celebrations, share any leftovers you may have. This way, everybody will eat at least one thing they really love, and they will get to take home a few bits and bobs that will certainly come in handy the next day.

  • Recycle & Reuse

Inevitably there will be waste in most homes this Christmas.

Check your festive food packaging to see what can and can’t be recycled. Plastic film is often not recyclable, but plastic containers should be, along with plastic and glass bottles. If you’re unsure, check your local waste management company’s website for information and restrictions; or, you can keep things for next year if they can be reused. 

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