I’ve been very fortunate during my ‘No Food To Waste’ campaign to meet some very inspirational people who have taught me so much about the importance of preventing food waste & the impact it has on the planet. One of these amazing ambassadors is Zoe Morrison — creator of Eco Thrifty Living.
We are nearing the end of #ZeroWasteWeek — a campaign celebrating its 10th year anniversary, to encourage us all to reduce the rubbish we throw away and produce as consumers. So I thought it was appropriate to bring in a special guest who has extensive knowledge on this subject. Zoe kindly agreed to answer some quick questions about herself & to share some tips on how you can go about making your household more eco-friendly.
Hi Zoe, please can you tell me a bit about yourself & how you got into the eco-friendly lifestyle?
I have always taken an interest in the environment, but when I got pregnant for the first time it all ramped up a notch. Suddenly I was aware that organic and chemical free food and products were best for my baby. My eyes were opened to the full extent of how many products were impregnated with chemicals. Freshly furnished and decorated rooms needed to be left to off gas before the baby came along. New baby clothes needed washing to get rid of the chemicals in them. Apparently I didn’t need to use shampoo or soap to wash my baby and I was firmly advised that breast was best when it came to feeding for the first few months.
I started to wonder that if chemicals and pesticides were to be avoided as far as possible for babies, shouldn’t adults limit their exposure to them too? They didn’t sound like they were good for my health and the more I looked into it, the more I found that they weren’t very good for the environment either.
As a new mother to be, the one thing I wanted the most in the world was for my baby to have a happy and healthy life ahead of him. How could he have that if the environment was being ruined? I started to buy eco-friendly products and organic products.
What gave you the idea to set up Eco Thrifty Living & Reduce your Food Waste UK & what are you looking to achieve?
To start off with I was just buying into an eco-friendly lifestyle. When my second child came along, I decided that I really wanted to quit my job and become a stay at home mum and blogger. My husband asked me how we were going to afford to buy eco-friendly products and organic food when we had less income. I thought it was a really good question and that was how the whole idea for my blog came about. How could I be eco-friendly on a budget?
I went through my purchases and my habits to work out if there was a less expensive more eco-friendly way to do things. Happily I often found there was and I saved us a lot of money with all the changes I made. I was able to quit my job and the blog was a great way to document all the changes I made and to meet like minded people online who also cared about the environment and their impact on it.
After several years of being eco-friendly and thrifty I got to a point where I didn’t just want to blog about my journey any more. I wanted to inspire other people to make eco-friendly changes that could save them money too. I decided to set up a Facebook group aimed at helping people reduce food waste for a few reasons;
What has been the biggest challenge of your frugal lifestyle & how have you overcome it?
As the kids have grown, I have felt more pressure to make money. Partly this is because the kids want to go to activities, trips, camps and on holidays. Partly it is because some people don’t appreciate the value in being a stay at home mum when the kids are at school and I have felt some social pressure. Finally, as much as I have cut back on our spending we still have bills to pay and I want to contribute to them. I wouldn’t say I have overcome this yet, but I have recognised that I need to find ways to make money as well as save it.
I have lots of ideas and am currently writing a book called the Ecothrifty Kitchen aimed at helping people save money and the environment in the kitchen.
I am also developing online courses to go alongside the book and I have recently started up an Etsy shop selling zero waste and eco-friendly (where possible) prints of drawings I have done — check out the shop here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ZoesZenArt
“Throughout Zero Waste Week and until the end of September 2017 I will donate £2 to Zero Waste Week for every print sold!”
What would you say are the main advantages & benefits of your lifestyle?
There are loads of advantages to being eco-friendly and thrifty.
a. It is a chance to use your skills that you don’t get to use in your day job (if you have one) and it is an opportunity to learn new ones. You start to realise that you are capable of more than you thought when you master how to make your own yoghurt or fix a broken washing machine.
b. The genuinely eco-option is often a more healthy option, bringing you into contact with less of those chemicals I was advised to keep away from my baby.
c. Spending less meant I was able to quit my job and pursue my passions. What would spending less do for you? How would it change your life?
d. There is also the obvious one — we only have one planet to live on. Personally I’m not keen on going to live on Mars. If we want to have a future on this earth we have to take care of it.
Do you feel you have gone as far as you can go, or do you have any plans for the future?
I went as far as I was happy to with being eco-friendly and have actually scaled back if anything. I have realised my own limitations. I have also realised that although it is useful to have people around who show that going zero waste or plastic free can be done, it isn’t always easy or practical.
Most people aren’t going to ditch the supermarket shop to go out of their way to find unpackaged produce, but if it was the only option in the supermarket, they would buy it.
To really change things on the zero waste front we need to lobby the supermarkets to scrap plastic packaging and sell produce loose wherever possible. I have seen petitions in the past to that effect, but they didn’t have many signatures on them. More awareness needs to be raised of the problems of plastic packaging and the practical alternatives to it, so that the supermarkets have a business case for change. Once I have my book and course up and running, I’m hoping that they will inspire people to add their voices to the calls for change.
And finally, can you give us your top tip for reducing food waste?
Freeze your leftovers and short shelf life food you aren’t going to use immediately (unless it doesn’t freeze well). It’s so easy to forget about the food in the fridge and not use it up in time. Freezing it means you can use it up at your leisure.
Thank you Zoe, fabulous advice & we wish you well in your continuing eco-thrifty journey.
Zoe’s Facebook groups, Eco Thrifty Living & Reduce Your Food Waste UK can be found here https://www.facebook.com/EcoThriftyLiving/
You can also check out Zoe’s Etsy shop selling limited edition giclée prints of her works, which are designed to last a long time. Until the end of September 2017 she will donate £2 for every print sold to Zero Waste week https://www.etsy.com/shop/ZoesZenArt