One woman’s reaction to Hong Kong’s throwaway culture: Buy Me Once website

Inspired by Le Creuset cookware, Hong Kong-raised Tara Button recommends high-quality products from companies offering lifetime guarantees and a repair service. Things should last a long time, she says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2016, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2016, 1:24pm

Two months ago, Tara Button quit her full-time job. Now with a team of three interns, the former Hongkonger is a London-based entrepreneur in charge of website Buy Me Once. The premise is simple: to recommend high-quality, long-lasting products in an age where customers constantly dispose of, and accept, cheap goods. As its tagline states: “Let’s throw away our throwaway culture.”

Born and raised in Hong Kong Button moved to London at the age of 18. She was profoundly affected by Hong Kong’s rampant disposable culture.

“It’s hard to walk around Hong Kong and to see the incredible amount of plastic waste and not be affected by it. But people feel powerless and they don’t see a way out, so I think offering people an alternative like Buy Me Once is important.”

This feeling was exacerbated with her job in advertising where she worked as a copywriter.

“That was not in line with my values,” says Button. “A lot of advertising doesn’t have a conscience. So many companies try to make people buy things without assessing if they should be buying them in the first place.”

The inspiration for Button’s website began, ironically enough, with one of her former firm’s main clients: Le Creuset. “The brand creates products that are worthy of being considered heirlooms. I’ve had Le Creuset pieces passed to me by my grandmother. I thought it was such a nice feeling to know that I would be able to pass it down to my children.”

This made Button ask what other products might last as long as Le Creuset. This has evolved into an array of product recommendations on Buy Me Once, including kitchenware, appliances, clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, beauty and accessories. Brands on offer include The White T-Shirt Company, Davek (umbrellas and accessories), Briggs and Riley (luggage) and Feelgood Eco (beds).

Many of these products offer a lifetime guarantee, design elements that will make them outlast their competitors, and a complimentary post-purchase repair service.

“Things used to last a long time, our grandparents used to buy things that were built to last, but this has changed over time. Now it’s quite normal for us to buy a kettle or a washing machine, and it might break in two years. This would be unheard of in our grandparents’ time – it wouldn’t be accepted!”

Button hopes to challenge creative designers and engineers to create groundbreaking and affordable products that will last longer. “One designer who we have on our website is Tom Cridland, who has made a sweatshirt intended to last 30 years. We need more of these innovative people who are willing to break the mould.”

Since launching, Buy Me Once has had a million unique visitors. With proof there is an audience receptive to her ideas, Button hopes she can give the right brands and creatives the platform to enact long-lasting positive change.