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Interview with Claire Sumners from Zero Waste Maman

zero waste maman mintie

To kick of the start of Plastic Free July 2020 we are absolutely delighted to welcome the wonderful and inspirational Zero Waste Maman to our blog post this week. Claire has kindly offered to share some of her hints, tips and advice on how you can reduce your plastic waste + live a little more kindly to the planet.  Claire is a mum of two whilst working tirelessly on environmental campaigns in her local community.

 Claire what motivated you to start Zero Waste Maman?

I love answering this question because it’s not what you might think! My mother died in 2012 and after I’d had my first child I was acutely aware that he wouldn’t have memories of her so thanks to Instagram helping me while-away hours during night-time feeds, I decided to use the squares to document my upbringing which was pretty much zero waste - no throwaway plastic, buying from shops not a supermarket and delicious homemade food. 

I called myself Zero Waste Apprentice and then as I got more and more practiced and knowledgable changed it to Maman to reflect who I am! 

Have you always been an eco-warrior or more of an eco-worrier?

Great question!  I think warrior most definitely. I think I was an Amazonian in a previous life!

What tips do you have for households on a budget making their first steps to using less plastic?

Look at what you throw away. It really is that simple.  The mantra I ALWAYS give as advice is “what you throwaway goes somewhere” throwaway items don't magically disappear. 

Take an audit of your bathroom and kitchen with all of the bottles you might use for cleaning your house and yourself! 

You might look at reducing your waste as one big problem to face but actually it’s not, break it down and realise that the plastic you have in your life isn’t your fault, it’s at the hands of those who want to make profits and flood our lives with way too much ‘stuff’.

Go to a Zero Waste shop - they don’t bite!  Have a look at all of the items on offer that you can purchase in your own refills .  Once you see how easy and actually money saving you won’t stop!  I use produce bags from @carrinet to buy items then pour them into my glass jars when I get home otherwise it’s too heavy to carry.

As with any change you make to your life, make sure you know how to do it then go for it!  Don’t think you will be plastic-free straight away as I wasn’t, you need to find what works for you for example I buy refills for my shampoo & conditioner, washing up liquid as that works for me whereas some people make their own or use bars.  I choose to have less so I use less products. I am still clean, happy and well fed!

 As a family what do you think has been the most challenging aspect of reducing your single use plastic items?

 Teaching yourself that you don’t need to be brainwashed into thinking you need ALL the things! 

We make our own dough for pizza, bread, breadsticks, pitta etc. The only challenge is finding time to make everything myself but I do and I absolutely love it.

I think the hardest is saying 'no' to the children, but my two are used to it now. The ‘no’ things are snacks like crisps etc. they are just a treat, but in the grand scheme of things they don’t go without, they just have different snacks.

 You work tirelessly for Surfers Against Sewage, why did you get involved in their campaigns and what has been the most exciting thing about working with them?

I got involved because we moved to Cornwall for six months and I beach cleaned everyday.  It made me realise that plastic will never ‘go away’ it’s here for lifetimes.  I love the mission and ethos of Surfers Against Sewage as Grassroots campaign that’s totally dedicated to the planet and oceans health.  The exciting thing is that they make progress, they are kind and supportive to those who volunteer for them and I’ve learnt so much that’s the most exciting thing!  I am so much better informed now which is another reason why I love writing Zero Waste Maman!

If someone wants to start on their plastic-free adventures tomorrow where would you suggest they start? 

Start! Do it!  Here are my top tips so you:

Refuse - just stop buying all of the ‘convenience’ stuff you bought before from menstrual or shaving products to yoghurts.

Reduce - If your bins both recycling and landfill/incinerator are full after two weeks, you really need to take a LOOK at what you’re throwing away.

Refill - make sure you always have a refill water bottle and hot drink cup - once you start in this manner everything else dominoes!

Meal Planning - my first Sunday night planning the week ahead felt a little overwhelming but now with 3 veggies and a meat eater, I plan a weeks meals and packed lunches so that we:

  • eat seasonally
  • eat colourfully
  • have lots of protein from lentils and chickpeas

I don’t stop eating what I love, I eat cheese, I am not a vegan, but what I do is make the best choices I have so that what I eat, dress in, books I buy, products I use ALL help the planet and for that I mean help those of us who want to be in business because we don’t believe in capitalism or privilege.

As we kick off Plastic Free July can you name your top 3 plastic-free swaps we can all make easily today?

1. Produce bags

2. Bamboo toothbrush

3. Mintie Lunch Box!

A MASSIVE thank you to Claire for taking the time to chat to us, you can find out more about Claire and her journey at Zero-Waste Maman. She also has a terrific Instagram feed give her a follow and start on your zero-waste mission today!

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