I always try to use eco – friendly products. The Wise House, which is a online shop, sells these things. The owner, Lucy Taylor, lives where I used to live, so I decided to interview her. She very kindly agreed…
Bea: Why did you start The Wise House?
Lucy : After I had my two children, Will and Rose, I wanted to change my job to something that would work a bit better around being a mum. One of my best friends had started selling organic children’s bedding via the internet (Quick Brown Fox of Dulwich). I was very interested in her business; it seemed like such an exciting and novel thing to do! Internet shopping was still a relatively new thing, and I felt inspired to start an online shop of my own.
It seemed natural to me to stock my shop with homeware products, as I have always enjoyed choosing unique things for our home. I started simply; with some placemats and storage tins from France. From that point, I built up a range of products with their own story; and it felt natural to progress over the years to lovely, useful things that help people live a less wasteful life.
Bea: What is your favourite thing that you sell?
Lucy : My favourite product is the bowl covers. They are used on a daily basis in our house, and they look so pretty too. I also love the Wise sweatshirts and (greedily) have one in each colour. I like the fact that they are exclusive to us, and that £5 goes towards Surfers Against Sewage, a marine conservation and beach clean-up charity.
Bea: Is it difficult not to use plastic?
Lucy : In this day and age…yes! There are some changes that are very simple; like switching to reusable water bottles, taking your own bags and containers and refusing straws. Avoiding single-use plastic is achievable if you go with the motto ‘be prepared’.
It is harder when it comes to food shopping. Most foods in the supermarkets are packaged in plastic. The only way to avoid it is to look for independent shops, grocers, deli counters and markets and/ or use fruit and veg box delivery. Hopefully supermarkets will introduce a plastic free aisle, and it’s great to see Morrisons leading the way with encouraging customers to bring their own containers, selling loose fruit and veg, and providing paper bags.
There are certain foods like crisps, biscuits and the like which seem almost impossible to buy without plastic. We could stop eating them, which would be healthier, but very difficult to do! It’s a case of picking your battles.
It can get a bit overwhelming to try to go completely plastic-free. I think the best thing to do is be plastic-clever, and do what you can with the resources you have.
Bea : How long has The Wise House been running?
Lucy : I am now in my sixth year with the business. I’m pleased to report that 2018 is shaping up to be the busiest year yet.
Bea : What advice would you give to people who want to give up plastic?
Lucy : Look at single use plastics first, and make the simple swaps – reusable coffee cups, water bottle, produce bags etc.
After that I would separate your life and home into categories and work through each one. For example, packed lunch and picnics. Look into reusable sandwich wraps, snack bags and cotton wipes, alongside reusable food containers and cutlery. Try to make as much food as possible yourself, to avoid plastic packaging (much healthier and cheaper too!).
I have written a series of Eco Living Blog Posts with the aim to take people the different steps they can take to make changes.
Instagram is also a fantastic source of inspiration for those trying to limit their plastic usage.
Bea : What could children do?
Lucy : Sometimes adults get stuck in their ways and need some straight talking to – and children are just the ones to do it! Educate your parents, family and friends about the impact that plastic is having on the environment. They might not know as much as you do about it, as they are often busy with work and other things in life.
Ask your parents to make some simple swaps. Why not buy them a stylish reusable coffee cup for their next birthday, or ask for a snazzy water bottle for yourself? You can tell them that as well as saving the planet, they will save money and time too.
You could also get together with friends and families and arrange events like litterpicks in your local area. Nothing sparks up a conversation on plastic like seeing how much of it is blowing around your local streets and parks.
Children can achieve amazing things and really inspire people to change their ways, just as you are doing with your blog. The children over at Kids Against Plastic give regular ted talks, have petitioned the government and are involved in educating schools, businesses, cafes, festivals on plastic pollution. It just goes to show what a difference the young generation can make.
Bea : Do you think that starting The Wise House has made even a little bit of an impact on plastic usage?
Lucy : I really do hope so! People are often intrigued by products like the beeswax wraps, and where they may not have thought about the issue of using clingfilm in the past, a product like this prompts a conversation about it. When people realise that there is an alternative that is kinder to the planet, then they are usually open to making the swap.
Writing blog posts on plastic and other eco topics, sharing interesting articles and promoting other ethical companies has hopefully given people even more food for thought. Features are often shared multiple times, so there is definitely a grower interest from people who want to educate themselves, and then make changes in their lives.
Hats off to everyone talking about plastic pollution; change is happening!