How one small business is using it's imagination and ethics to create change for good in post COVID Aotearoa


“The post COVID-19 world” is headlining all media hubs, making its way into conversations and finding its place on everyone’s lips. What does running a business look like? What do social events entail? Even simple things, such as grabbing a coffee or picking up your groceries, look different.

For us at UYO, a responsible cafe directory located at the junction of consumer behaviour and hospitality industry survival, we’re watching with delight while so many eateries and cafes, like ADJØ in Dunedin, are using their imagination and ethics now more than ever.

A post COVID-19 world for ADJØ looks like supporting their community, taking responsibility for their waste, and positively influencing their staff and customers.

How do they do it?

With bowls, of course.

At ADJØ, you can have your food-to-go in a bowl you brought from home. Forgot it? Borrow a second hand bowl, bought by ADJØ from the local second hand shop (donate spare change to support the charity shop if you can, and always remember to bring the bowl back!). You could dine in; sit down and enjoy nourishing kai and chats with locals. Or a fourth option: run away with your food in a beautiful ceramic bowl made by Pottery For The Planet. Just bring it back in next time you come.

Pottery For the Planet, one of the most well known pottery makers in the Southern Hemisphere, is a big piece of the puzzle. They make this fourth option even more glorious than you could imagine. “Our latest mission has been to get people thinking differently about using unnecessary single-use containers,” says Jen, a Pottery For The Planet Representative. “We find that people are more likely to do this when they have a beautiful product to use.”

In their pursuit to move beyond their popular ceramic cups and expand into bowls and containers, Pottery For The Planet have gifted ADJØ a bunch of ‘seconds’ that are not-quite-perfect for sale, but overwhelmingly perfect for eating in. It’s like a double waste cutting exercise that makes us at UYO bounce with happiness.

“We love working with cafes like ADJØ who are thinking outside the square and being proactive in making a real difference for the environment.  The fact that ADJØ also supports local artists really tugs at our creative hearts,” says Jen. “We need to make it easy and “normal” for people to take their own container to a cafe or restaurant and have their takeaway meal served up in it, instead of in yucky throwaways.”

ADJØ are a brilliant example of the cafes on our UYO directory who have engaged the ‘use your own container here’ button. This button is now more important than ever, as going a step beyond the humble keep cup shows adoration for papatūānuku, ownership of existence, future thinking, respect for the community who walk in their doors, appreciation for the community surrounding them, and colossal leadership.

We believe the businesses throwing the planet and people out the window to focus on profit and survival, may have it wrong. These innovative yet simple systems can reap many rewards; they have the potential to be the answer to profit and survival.

The benefits of following ADJØ’s lead:

  • Reduce costs during hard times: No need to purchase disposable bowls

  • Landfill reduction

  • Accessible options for all incomes

  • Cultivate respect and trust in customers: Trust them to bring something back

  • Support local charities through purchasing from second hand shops

  • Draw attention to consumer choices and impact

  • Improve mental health for staff: Positive contribution to society always has an emotional benefit

  • Social media community influence

  • Encourage return customers

Each of these benefits have knock on effects that ultimately strengthen a businesses resilience and sustainability; in both an environmental and business sense.

The hospitality industry is inherently wasteful, but, in the majority, it doesn’t want to be. So, at UYO we will continue to facilitate, connect, communicate, and fund grassroots and hands on initiatives that can support others in their commitment to create social change. Initiatives like the Takeaway Throwaways campaign, Washpitality Aotearoa, and The Koha Jar Project. We are beyond grateful each time we are able to work alongside willing businesses, just like ADJØ and Pottery For The Planet.

Now, more than ever, we believe that collaboration is vital if we are all to move towards a more equitable world. Putting ourselves in a position where we make time to connect others who can benefit from that introduction is something that we can all do, all of us, to widen a net of goodness, to combat apathy, and to kick start change.

What can you do now?

If you’re a cafe:

  • Implement a reuse scheme using seconds from a local maker, or second hand containers from a second hand shop

  • Encourage your customers to eat in

  • Reach out to local makers to form relationships that may lead to collaboration

  • Use your ‘waste busting’ as a way to stand out from the crowd

  • Celebrate and share about your environmentally friendly systems

  • Use your social media as a tool for change and awareness

  • Do not underestimate the power of community

  • Get in touch with us to list your eatery and work together to minimise your avoidable single use waste

If you’re a cafe goer:

  • BYO container

  • Make time to eat in

  • Encourage your local cafe to offer reuse schemes, or to connect with us: we can help

  • Connect your local cafe with people who they may benefit from

  • Love on your local cafe on social media

  • Always bring your borrowed bowl back