Hi, my name is Lizzie and I’m happy to declare I’m pretty loopy about the environment!
For me this way of thinking has always been a part of how my family have lived to some degree. I grew up with my granny routinely cutting open her tubes of toothpaste to get that final bit out, and saving every jam jar and yoghurt pot ‘just in case’. My grandfather was the first Conservation Officer in the Forestry Commission, and I remember the piles of scrap paper he would save from all the post. They also lived through the war and spent part of that time in Burma, where it was a very different lifestyle. This influenced how they raised my mum and therefore me. (Photo – Lizzie as a child with her Grandfather)
As a child I loved Nature and it would never occur to me to litter; this led to recycling more. A school trip to Germany really hammered this home after trying to throw away a plastic bottle and not having a clue which bin to put it in (it was all colour coded).
University was the next stage for me- I started to visit local markets and thinking more about how and where food was produced, choosing more seasonal and organic food (and training myself to remember my shopping bags!!).
I’ve also always loved charity shops and Edinburgh was a great city for that. Hunting a bargain become a really hobby! Since my granny and mum had saved a lot of clothes it was natural to me to wear second or third-hand clothes. It made me appreciate quality fabrics and how an item was sewn and when I went shopping for new items, I became more disappointed with what would be on the high street.
After uni I went WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms). I loved the ethos of the organisation and the hosts I stayed with really opened my eyes to a better way of living. They were obviously very committed to living a zero waste/organic lifestyle and it showed me there are so many ways to live lightly on the land. These people had spent years working towards this goal- and I realised it really does become a different way of living. It’s not just swapping out a few cleaning products (although that’s a great way to start!) but I found myself making bigger choices- I wasn’t comfortable any more with cheaply made products shipped over from China, but much more willing to invest in a UK-made item, where I knew my money would be going on a fair wage and good working conditions.
I went travelling for the first time in 2010. So in the ten years since, what’s changed for me?
Well, if you look in my wardrobe I still have many of the clothes I wore when I went travelling the first time (including wool socks my grandpa wore skiiing!). I’ve been WWOOFing again, this time packing up all my items into storage and going with my partner. We’ve picked up more skills- such as honing our foraging skills (feee food? My favourite!). We’ve had a child (multiple opportunities to reject commercial tat and opt for reusable products there!). After travelling we moved somewhere new and used it as a fresh start on what we would bring into the house. So no more single-use items: out went kitchen roll, toilet roll, nappies, etc. Cleaning products got simplified, then simplified again. We are blessed with a weekly local food market so I now have a trusty shopping trolley (yes, like an old granny!) and we walk in every week to stock up.
I also started a Facebook group called A Greener Fairford, for locals to share tips and ideas. We have a great community who are really open to positive change.
And for us as a family?
We try to keep sticking to the zero-waste ‘R’ mantra-