Meet Our Plastic Free Guru Claudi Williams!

When Carly and I started making beeswax wraps, everyone we talked to about it said we needed to get in contact with Claudi, she is a real local champion for living without plastic and was way ahead of the curve through her site pfree.co.uk. We sent Claudi some of our first ever beeswax wraps and were so thrilled when she was shown using them on a BBC News piece about living plastic free. Fast forward a year and Claudi became one of the very first ladies to join us in our new workshop. We have learnt a huge amount from Claudi, she has been a fantastic force for change within our business, constantly challenging us to re-evaluate how we do things to reduce our footprint. We are so happy to introduce you to Claudi, she will be our plastic free guru, helping us all make the very important, plastic free swaps. Every month she will be imparting her never ending wisdom on everything to do with plastic. Firstly we thought we should introduce Claudi to you :)

Claudi is our local Surfers Against Sewage Rep and the driving force behind the Stroud District Action On Plastic. To say she is busy is probably an understatement!

Claudi is our local Surfers Against Sewage Rep and the driving force behind the Stroud District Action On Plastic. To say she is busy is probably an understatement!

Hi Claudi, we know you very well :) but can you give a quick intro to our readers about who you are and where you come from?
Hi Carly & Fran, I am from Germany originally but I have lived in the UK for most of my adult life. I married an Englishman and raised a family here, so this is definitely home now. I love how you’re never very far from the sea and wild places in the UK. Everyone thinks that Germany is a progressive and eco-conscious country, which was probably true when I was growing up, but the UK is ahead in many ways which is exciting and makes me feel positive about the future. I am an eco-warrior were plastic is concerned but I am struggling with other ethical choices like giving up my car for example…

What was the catalyst for you living plastic free?
I was frustrated for quite some time that every time we went shopping we ended up with so much plastic packaging. During the summer holiday of 2015 we went swimming in the Med and found ourselves surrounded by so much plastic that it felt like floating in a big plastic soup. It really got me thinking and I struggled on for a while trying to ‘cut down’ on plastic. In the end we decided to do a whole year of buying no plastic whatsoever, just to see whether it was possible. It was a life-changing experience and when the year came to an end, there was no going back to the old ways!

How hard was it for you as a mum trying to get the whole family onboard?
Luckily, both my husband and my younger son who was still at school at the time wanted to join me. Making it a joint family effort probably did make it much easier. I guess every family is different and it would be hard if your partner or teenage kids really didn’t like it. Quietly setting an example is probably better than arguing and banging your head against a wall. Young kids intrinsically understand looking after animals and the earth and I think it’s easier to get them on board.

Have you found that you have become a bit of a 'go to' person for information on living plastic free?
We started writing a blog from the start and gained quite a few readers, especially after Blue Planet burst the plastic bubble here in the UK. We also started a group locally and got involved with the council, schools and youth groups. After our initial year of zero plastic, we allowed a tiny bit back in. There are lots of important applications for plastic material and we weren’t quite ready to give up medicines or phones and laptops for example. But a vast amount of the plastic we buy is single-use and can easily be replaced with other things in our homes. I love it when people ask me for ideas and advice because I really want everyone to join us!

What would be your top tips for anyone trying to cut single use plastic out of their life?
One way to phase out unnecessary plastic from your life is to tackle one area a month from any of these categories: food shopping, cleaning materials, toiletries, stationery and clothing. My top 5 things to start with are all to do with food shopping. Almost 43% of all plastic packaging in the UK comes from the grocery sector, so this is where you can make the biggest difference:

1. Get lots of different sized fabric bags to you can buy unpackaged fruit, veg, bread, sweets, etc
2. Go shopping with containers so you can get cheese, meat and fish unpackaged. Find your local plastic free shop to pick up loose pasta and rice.
3. Give up plastic bottles and get reusable water bottles for the whole family – maybe get a soda stream or find your closest refill station when you are out and about.
4. Have milk delivered or find your local milk refill station or have a go at making your own nut, oat or rice milks. It’s super easy!
5. Instead of buying snacks and ready meals, get back to making things yourself. Keep meals simple and seasonal and bake biscuits or flapjacks as an occasional treat.

Do you have a top fact about plastic?
It’s hard to pick out one fact – they are all so important. The one that really shocked me is that 79% of all plastic waste ever generated is now in landfill. 79% of 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste (Roland Geyer, 2018) is slowly seeping into the soil and our waterways, making its way into the ocean and also into the food chain. We can’t reverse that but we can turn the tap off at source.

Thank you so much Claudi!

So keep your eyes peeled, we will be sharing all sorts of useful information from recipes on making your own deodorant to how you can reduce the plastic waste in your office!

Carly & Fran x

fran cusden