Brand Showcase 01: Reusabowl

Reusabowl is new on the scene in Wellington and we are in love! I caught up with the founders a couple of weeks ago to chat about sustainability and their long term goals.

Can you tell me a little bit about Reusabowl, and the story behind you starting it?

Reusabowl's mission is to design out waste from the start and eliminate single-use by championing the circular economy. We were tired of seeing packaging waste and lack of options to enjoy takeaway - so we created a bowl borrowing system where you can borrow a bowl at your favourite eateries for $10 - then bring it back to swap for a clean one with your next meal or a full refund. Our business runs as a reusable packaging subscription for eateries who want to offer a waste-free option to their customers.

Our team came together after a startup weekend in Wellington called Climathon, tackling climate challenges. From there we crowdfunded to produce our first set of bowls and launch a trial! It's been an exciting journey, full of the ups and downs of startup life - a road made easier when you believe in the values and mission of your business.

As founders, the three of us all bring different perspectives to the table - Sarah is passionate about reducing waste, especially after traveling and seeing its adverse effects on the natural world; Bobby was inspired by the circular economy after time spent in the corporate world, seeing the broken system, and Marine has a chronic condition called endometriosis and wants to help people remove plastic from their lifestyles because of its ill health effects.

Your trial has been interrupted by a COVID alert level increase. How has this affected your trial and if needed, how have you adapted?

We're incredibly grateful to our eateries for continuing to champion Reusabowl even during a difficult time for the hospitality industry. Without skipping a beat, our partners kept Reusabowl available to their customers - as reuse systems are fully approved by the Ministry of Health under Alert Level 2 and 3. We've adapted by rolling out our COVID plan with additional hygiene measures and advised our eateries to minimise contact when users bring bowls back. As part of our standard operating procedures, our eateries sanitise each bowl, every time through their commercial dishwasher - they are covered under their food control plan, just like dine in crockery, so in many ways reuse systems are already set-up to accommodate a shift like this to increased hygiene needs.

What do you hope Reusabowl could be in five years' time?

In five years, we hope Reusabowl is at the forefront of the circular economy with multiple products in NZ and scaling internationally with our bowls. There is so much opportunity in the reuse space and we want to encourage NZ start-ups and other businesses to seize the opportunity by getting involved early and leading the way toward the circular future. We have the talent here in NZ to become world leaders!

What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone curious about moving to a more sustainable lifestyle?

Perfection is not the answer. There is no need to be perfect, so give it all a try. Adopting new, good habits can be as hard as ditching old, bad ones... and we all know how it feels to try and kick a bad habit. There's a saying which goes - "We don't need a small number of people doing it perfectly, we need everyone doing it imperfectly." Also, be kind to yourself if you slip-up. It is a transition, not a flip-flop and we need to be in this together. That's how wide-scale impact is achieved.

What's the one low waste product you couldn't live without?

Bobby: My face razor is pretty cool. My parents got me a cool single-blade razor with a brush and shaving soap over 5 years ago which I love. The shaving process has become a calming ritual.

Sarah: My water bottle - a simple but important one. We are so lucky in NZ to have amazing drinking water that's readily available - so why not refill! I have a 1 litre bottle that I take with me everywhere. I love it because it's a great reminder to drink more water.

Marine: Jars - I use them as planters, food storage, hot drink/cocktail glasses, as a vase for my flowers, to ferment foods, to create my body scrubs, to collect stuff... seriously I use jars for everything.

Thank you Bobby, Sarah and Marine for catching up with me and telling us all about your awesome business! 

Want to find out more about Resuabowl? Check out there website www.reusabowl.nz or follow them on social media at @reusabowlnz 

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