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Shop More Sustainably

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Meet retailers helping us shop more sustainably for our homes, Irish Examiner

New experiences are popping up so we can buy more mindfully for our living spaces. We check out Cork’s curiosity shops.

FRI, 14 JAN, 2022

Who isn’t guilty of having bought a cheapish piece of furniture in a hurry which not long after fell apart and headed off to landfill?

Fast furniture, like fast food, gives an instant hit of satisfaction, providing an immediate solution to a seating problem or hunger pangs, but neither does us or the planet much good in the longer term.

New Year with its tradition of making resolutions is a good time to start buying better, either pre-loved or locally made. The latter, admittedly, will be more expensive than off the shelf, but you’ll get exactly what you want and something that might even last beyond a generation and is an item that can be repaired when necessary.

If the contemporary look is more your thing, within walking distance of Cork City is Origineire which opened just before Christmas on Centre Park Road. Once an industrial area, in recent years it’s been attracting an arty set with pop up shops and regular markets.

Director Siobhan Brennan’s decision to open up shop in Cork was prompted by what she sees as a growing craft and design scene.

“There is such a richness and vibrancy in the work being created here that it sparked the idea of launching Origineire, because art, design and craft can have a place in everyone’s daily lives,” she says. “Why buy mass-produced products for our homes when we can have authentic works of art and natural, handcrafted homewares and furniture from Ireland?”


At its heart, Origineire is focused on contemporary Irish furniture and interiors, selling a handpicked selection of design and décor products created by both known and emerging designers and artists based in Ireland.

Concerned about the environmental and social impact of over-production, consumption and the disposal of products, Origineire sells home goods that are expertly crafted by hand and made to last, so when you go for a browse expect to see furniture, art, ceramics and glassware.

For the time being, it’s appointment only, but Siobhan says, “Even last-minute appointments are welcome. Just phone or email and if we can fit you in, we will. We’re flexible in that we can schedule viewings during lunch breaks, after work or on weekends. Visitors are welcome to browse and ask questions, especially people that are just curious. There’s no obligation to purchase.”

While sustainable products tend to be more expensive, they’re a long-term saving and designed for longevity using good quality materials to provide durability and enabling maintenance and repair if necessary. It means they last longer so you can buy less often.

To give customers a steer about how to buy in a sustainable way, Siobhan, says, “Ask what’s it made from, seek out natural materials like wood, glass, metal, and avoid exotic timber no matter how eco-friendly it is claiming to be. It still has to travel around the world to get to you.”

Something we may not have questioned and which Siobhan also highlights is, “Many retailers sell products under the Designed in Ireland brand, but the products are made on the other side of the world, so always check the label.”

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St Patricks Day Reverse Parade

St Patrick’s Day Reverse Parade

With St Patrick’s Day Festival cancelled again this year and so many young children missing out on festivities, what about having a ‘reverse parade’ …where the audience does the walking and our homes and gardens are the ‘floats’.

Why not decorate our gates, fences, walls, hall doors, balconies or gardens with a Paddy’s Day theme and leave them up for a few days so that everyone passing either walking or driving can enjoy them too.

If you can buy decorations great! but here are some ideas to get you started making them yourself. Remember you don’t have to cover your house or garden in an extravagant display, simple decorations on your wall, hall door or gate are perfect too.

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Is “Cooking Fatigue” a thing?

Add Some Flair to your Fare –

We’re cooking at home more often and even if we’re fortunate enough to get a take-out from a local restaurant, we are s-t-i-l-l eating it at home – restaurants are closed, there’s no hanging out in public spaces and in fairness its too cold to eat outside on a balcony or in a garden. So, we’re generally eating in the same places everyday, either at the counter or table in the kitchen or on our lap in the sitting room or in the car… and if we’re very lucky breakfast in bed from time to time.

So, Cooking Fatigue is a very real thing and is quite wide spread. For some, cooking has become a chore and meal-time is no longer the celebration it once was. To help you overcome the tedium, we’ve put together a few ideas on how to add some zing to your nosh-up.

Try New Things

Yes, obvious I know, but worth remembering when you’re in a rut. If you have cook books at home take some time to flick through a few pages to be inspired, you never know, something might catch your eye. There’s loads of free recipes online. Check out Bord Bia Recipes for tasty meals using standard ingredients. Great vegetarian options can be found at Café Paradiso Recipes. For more adventurous flavours try Mr Bells Recipes a Cork favourite or Asia Market Recipes in Dublin. And if you’ve room for dessert Butlers Chocolates have something for your sweet tooth.

Seeing as we can’t travel as we used to, I like to take inspiration from different destinations I’d like to be eating in or hope to travel to in the future. Sometimes it’s Milan or La Paz, other times it’s a hideaway guesthouse on the Wild Atlantic Way that I can’t wait to visit again.

Make a Plan

So if a new recipe has caught your eye, plan ahead. You’re probably limiting the amount of times you shop each week. On top of your cupboard staples have your list of new ingredients ready. Before I go shopping I have a general idea of the meals I’m going to have over the week. It’s a bit of a pain, but its easier spending thirty minutes planning food for the week than spending an hour every day wondering what I’m going to eat.

Meal Kits from local producers are another great option. A new trend is multiple small specialist suppliers joining forces to offer an entire meal experience: starters, mains, dessert and drink. You need to order in advance so remember to plan ahead.

Cook Before You’re Hungry

Inspiration never comes when you’ve not eaten for ages and you’re staring blindly into the fridge for the umpteenth time expecting a meal to magically appear before you. Leaving it to the last minute means you end up with mayo on bread for dinner or ordering another take-out.

Cook More & Freeze

If you’ve had a busy day, you’re not going to feel like cooking or you may be too hungry to make a meal from scratch. Cooking a meal in bulk means you can put leftovers in the freezer for another day. When I’ve time I’ll cook multiple easy meals like lasagne, quiche and paella in one day and freeze them all in individual portions, ready for the next time I do a zombie stare into the fridge looking for food. It also means there’s little or no clean up on freezer days.

Upgrade Your Tools

It’s amazing the difference the right tools can make. Having a knife sharpening steel to hand helps avoid blunt blades and speeds up chopping, and investing in a solid wood board is well worth it – easy to maintain they’re more hard wearing and last longer than plastic, they can also double as a platter. It’s no surprise that there’s little magic in cooking every meal, every day, so I like to jazz things up by using my collection of unusual and beautiful utensils, they add a touch of glamour to the kitchen, capture the imagination and make cooking a little more fun.

Use the ‘Good’ Ware

What are you waiting for? Use the special porcelain and handmade wooden platters, use the traditional blown glass tumblers and enjoy them as they were intended to be used. Make every day important in some small way and make your meals a celebration of all that’s good.

© Origineire 2021