When we first started making and selling beeswax wraps, Claudi’s name was popping up everywhere! Her website pfree.co.uk was way ahead of the curve and she’d become a local champion for plastic-free living. She was one of the first people to be given our wraps to try and test, and she used them on a BBC news piece about living without plastic! We honestly wouldn’t be where we are today without her support from day one.
Fast forward to today, and Claudi is not only our resident plastic-free guru, but also runs our workshop and oversees the making of our beautiful beeswax wraps! When she first joined the team, we sat down with her to find out more about her steps to living plastic-free.
Hi Claudi, tell us a little about who you are and where you come from?
Well you already know me very well! 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. You’re never very far from the sea and wild places in the UK which I absolutely love. 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 where 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:
- Get lots of different sized fabric bags to you can buy unpackaged fruit, veg, bread, sweets, etc
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
On a daily basis you can find Claudi running our workshop and keeping all of our wrap production tip-top. She is also involved in our local Plastic Free Community and encourages you to do the same in your area!