Introducing Reusabowl: Wellington's Bowl Borrowing System

By Ethically Kate

There are many things that frustrate me in this world. People who don’t check that their clothing tags are tucked in before they leave the house, unnecessary apostrophes, and the fact that every time I put my washing out during winter, it rains. But there is one thing that frustrates me most: single-use takeaway containers.

Single-use takeaway containers are annoying, environment cluttering objects. Thousands are used every day in Aotearoa New Zealand, yet they continue to make no sense. Using an item for a few moments, then throwing it away… it just doesn’t add up.

Single-use takeaway containers frustrate Reusabowl too. But going a step beyond simply ranting about it like some people (e.g. me), they’ve devised a solution.

Reusabowl is a reusable bowl for takeaways without the waste packaging. It’s the bowl your food deserves. It’s a better experience for takeaways, but more than that, Reusabowl is a network. Here’s how it works:

Customers can grab a reusable bowl, made from rice husk with a silicone lid, for $10 with their takeaway order. After feasting on deliciousness on-the-go kai, customers then bring the bowl back to any of the eateries in the network, to swap for a clean one with their next order, or a full refund.

Although Aotearoa New Zealand hopes that Reusabowl will expand across the country, Reusabowl is currently available in Wellington at Pickle & Pie, Taste of Home, Mr Go’s, and Fix & Fogg, until the end of September.

BRB… moving to Wellington.

‘We want to design it with the people that want our products. Having an 8 week pilot with four different eateries with different needs, means we will be able to establish what is best for the product,’ says Bobby Lloyd, one of the founders of Reusabowl.

‘Our vision is to create a reusable city with all types of different reusables. We spent a year finding the perfect container.’

I sat down with Bobby Lloyd and Sarah Booher, two out of three (Marine Bucher is the third!) of what I like to call The Reusabowl Dream Team. They explained more about the first addition to their ‘reusable city’.

It’s a flat bowl that can fit everything from sushi to soup. It’s made from rice husk (an agriculture bi product) and natural materials that are molded into the perfect shape. The lids are silicone, and the entire Reusabowl is plastic-free.

‘We focus on a circular and sharing economy in our product, and in our practices… we are creating a wastefree system, so even though things take a little longer, we don’t need to re-track.’

A key thing that struck me about the Reusabowl founders wasn’t their obvious we aren’t going to stop until this waste free system works and we’re willing to sacrifice everything attitude, but the way they go about sustainable business. They’re thinking about every piece of the puzzle, to ensure Reusabowl is always an accessible, safe, clean, practical, and enticing solution.

‘Eateries are really keen. We carried out a problem discovery/business incubation project with almost 50 restaurants, and all of them were keen and saw single-use takeaway packaging as a problem,’ Bobby explained. ‘They have local customers already, and they see them walk out everyday with a single-use container.’

‘We’re hoping we can be part of making it (reusables) more socially acceptable. Already, it hasn’t felt like we have been trying to sell it to people. They see the name and product, and already most people are trying to do something good. It explains and sells itself,’ says Sarah.

As Reusabowl kicks off, they’ll work through the challenges of tracking and measuring impact, growing fast but sustainably, while always continuing to ensure the process is safe and hygienic - not a challenge, but always a nonnegotiable!

I’ve watched several companies fail and succeed, and I wholeheartedly believe Reusabowl are one of the ones who will achieve the latter. With Marine’s focus on human health and inclusion, Bobby’s corporate expertise and sustainability consultant skills, matched with Sarah’s marketing experience, love of food, and positivity… they’ve got this.

So, are you in Wellington? Head to Pickle & Pie, Taste of Home, Mr Go’s, or Fix & Fogg!

Not in Wellington? Share the HECK out of Reusabowl to up your chances of having this option local in the future!

You can takeaway, you can improve your eating experience, and you don’t have to create waste.