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25 May 2022

Big Kildare Interview: Unpacking bad habits with new plastic-free store, Unpacked

Big Kildare Interview: Unpacking bad habits with new plastic-free store, Unpacked

Pic: Netanya Curtis, the entrepreneur behind Unpacked in Kildare town

A Kildare businesswoman is set on helping those in her community get rid of plastic, and instead switching to using more sustainable materials.

Entrepreneur Netanya Curtis is the owner of Unpacked, a zero-waste store located in Kildare town, who recently sat down with the Leinster Leader to discuss her ethos and what her new store offers.

Netanya explained that her family ran the Protac army surplus store in the Curragh, and that she is a Media Studies graduate from Maynooth University.

However, when she decided to start a family with her husband, Netanya pulled back from media production and decided to help in her parents shop for the past eight years, including with their site and social media.

"We have also been trying to reduce our waste as much as possible over the past eight years too: we have reduced it by a lot, but it can be hard, sometimes even impossible, when you have children," she added.

As for what inspired her to specicially start up Unpacked, Netanya explained that she wished to create a better future for her children, and also to help her community.

However, she admitted that she has concerns for the future: "As a parent, I prefer to choose hope, because if not, I suppose I’d just have to lie down on the floor. Part of why I did this was to show my children that you can make a difference and be a leader: a great example of this being the Suffragette movement.

"I am hopeful that companies like mine will help shift the message, but I do think more has to be done at a governmental level," she said.

PRODUCTS

Unpacked sells a multitude of items, from shampoos to toilet paper, reusable menstrual products, food and ingredients, and cooking materials and apparatus.

The store also operates a click and collect service, and also has a small play area for children.

She explained: "I’m trying to be that traditional local corner shop; people come in and chat to you and want to change their lifestyles, and so far, there has been a great, positive response."

Netanya said that she gets most of her supplies nationwide, but even then, strives to get Kildare materials in order to support the local economy, and carefully vets what she brings into Unpacked.

Netanya also pointed to her relationship with the Sineád and Martin Wisely, owners of another recently-opened zero-waste Kildare store known as Refillz, based in Naas: "It was strange alright, how we had the same idea at the same time… I suppose it was a bit like when Deep Impact and Armageddon came out in the cinemas!" she joked.

SUGGESTIONS

When asked about the best ways to introduce people to sustainability, Netanya said: "If you bombard people with rules, like ‘you have to be vegan or vegetarian’, they won’t do it, because humans tend to take the path of least resistance... but if you tell them ‘maybe you should reduce, say, the amount of meat you are eating?’ they will be more open to that suggestion."

She continued: "There needs to be a balance: you have to show them that you can reduce their costs and their waste, which in turn will also reduce their costs."

Netanya has also expressed interest in other ventures, and confirmed that she will be working on an arrangement with Kildare Community Garden: "I would also like to start charging money for the paper bags, with all the funds from the bags going to the Community Garden," she said.

COMMUNITY-BASED CHANGES

Lastly, Netanya also called for a number of community-based changes, including planting fruit bearing trees in community areas instead of non-native trees, and pointed to France as an example of a country who has done this correctly.

"I know that makes me sound like a hippy" she joked: "But I do think the concept of ownership has to end and be replaced with thinking of the community instead: it just makes more sense."

Further information about Unpacked can be found on www.unpacked.ie.

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