Zoe Worden and Oisin Coyle run Dark Horse Pizzas.
One of Ireland's most popular supermarkets, Lidl, announced last week that they would be making an effort to cut down on unnecessary plastic packaging in store and start selling fruit and vegetables loose.
The news was met with great enthusiasm by Irish shoppers who are keen to reduce their own household waste.
The announcement got The Dundalk Democrat thinking about local businesses who are doing their bit to help the environment by engaging in eco-friendly practices.
We spoke to three popular local food businesses to hear their thoughts on being eco-friendly entrepreneurs.
Dark Horse Pizzas, Bellurgan Point
Pictured Above: A recent vegan cookery class hosted by Dark Horse Pizzas.
Dundalk duo Oisin Coyle and Zoe Worden run Dark Horse Pizzas. They started with a mobile catering business from which they sold vegan pizzas (which is now retired). They also host vegan cookery classes, provide catering services and run a monthly supper club.
Zoe explains they are keen to make their business as green as they can.
The pair recycle “as much as possible” and use compostable packaging when on the road with the mobile catering business.
“For our supper clubs, we compost all vegetable scraps and use this to make compost for our vegetable beds. We also try to incorporate produce that's in-season when we're coming up with menu ideas,” says Zoe.
“We're starting to grow some produce ourselves to use for cookery classes and pop up nights during the summer. Things like beetroot, kale, fennel, salads, and tomatoes.”
And the Dark Horse Pizza crew have plenty more green ideas in the pipeline for their thriving business in the future.
Zoe adds: “I think that's probably it for now but we have plenty more plans to try and become more self-sufficient in future, it's just going to take a little time.”
Country Fresh, Patrick Street
Country Fresh first opened their doors in 1981. The store has become known for selling top-quality fruit and vegetables.
“All of our fruit and vegetables are sold loose. We are very conscious of being environmentally-friendly here. We recycle everything as much as we can,” says manager Bríd O'Connell.
The manager agrees that it is “definitely a good idea” to reduce plastic packaging and explains that Country Fresh would like to get rid of all plastic bags in the store in the near future.
“People come up to the counter with carrots in one bag, apples in another - there's just no need. It's very wasteful,” says Bríd,
“I think people don't like putting stuff in the basket with no plastic bags. But hopefully, we will be doing away with all of the plastic bags in store here soon.”
Treet & Green, The Marshes Shopping Centre
Treet & Green café, which opened in the Marshes one year ago, also has an eco-friendly policy in place. Owner Ken Nolan is passionate about the healthy food cafe's stance.
He explains: “All of our coffee cups and lids are biodegradable and 100% compostable, our salad bowls are made out of pulp and we use paper straws. We also source all of our food locally.”
Ken thinks Dundalk businesses have a great track record when it comes to opting for green policies. However, he thinks there's still more to be done.
He said: “I think everyone has to do their bit so that we can all play a small part in the reduction of waste and the amount of plastic we use. It'll all add up and you won't be contributing to the waste piling up in landfills.”
The café is launching another eco-friendly policy this month.
“We will be selling Keep Cups (a reusable glass coffee cup) to encourage people to bring their own cups in. We'll offer a 20 cent discount for people who bring their own cup,” Ken explains.
Whilst Ken is happy to make the effort to keep his business eco-friendly, he thinks that the Government and Louth County Council could do a lot more to encourage other local business owners to do the same.
“I think compostable coffee cups should be made VAT-free. If you want to buy biodegradable products, they're going to cost you a lot more than the plastic version. There need to be more incentives,” says Ken.