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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.”