Zero-Waste Hero: An interview with Elsa

March 11, 2019

We're 4 interviews into our zero-waste hero series and we have gained some amazing insight from amazing champions of sustainability, to check out the interviews we've done so far click here.

For our fourth interview we spoke to Elsa a Sustainability masters graduate and content creator based in Birmingham.

Without further ado lets get into the interview:

1. Introduce yourself (in 2 or 3 sentences)

- I am a recent masters graduate and spent my masters degree studying sustainability and circular economy. I currently work in a digital start-up and spend my free time creating content for my blog and Instagram account. I started my Instagram account six years ago (oh, how time flies) with landscape photography, but I changed things up quite radically about a year ago, because I wanted to share something that would be more meaningful to me and hopefully helpful to many others.

 

2. What motivated you to start your zero-waste journey?

- Back at university I had been involved in many sustainability projects and felt like I was making a difference, but after graduating it all changed. I felt this burning need to do something for our planet (yes, I know it sounds cheesy, but it is true..) and to pursue my passion for sustainability and circular economy. I volunteered and worked for a couple of environmental organisations back in Edinburgh and managed a #RoamResponsibly social media campaign in Scotland (Scotland's Instagrammers' Campaign to Roam Responsibly, promoting the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and natural conservation in Scotland). As I moved to Birmingham with my partner for his job in the beginning of the summer, I thought that it was a great opportunity to really organise our lives and start my zero waste journey and living more sustainably to lower our impact on the environment.

 

3. What was the first change you made?

The first change for me was to start using produce bags, when shopping for vegetables and fruit. It is such a simple thing to do, but really took some time to get used to. We humans are such creatures of habit - it can take a while to change your behaviour, but once you have done the work to change it, you are very unlikely to go back. The only vegetable I now buy in plastic wrapping is salad and spinach as they are really hard to find unpackaged, but I hope that will change too!

 

Sustainable influence elsa

image courtesy of Elsa

4. What have you found hardest to give up?

Face cream. I have very sensitive skin and many of the natural oily products just won't do. I am on the hunt for a zero waste face cream alternative, but haven't found one that would agree with my skin so far. I do use a face oil in the evenings instead of a cream to half the amount of face cream I need, but struggle to cut it down to zero.

 

5. What's your favourite zero-waste swap?

I have to say that my favourite swap has been starting to use natural shampoo and soap bars and I think many would agree with me. They are fun, better for your hair and skin and make your bathroom smell gorgeous.

 

6. What advice would you give someone just starting out on their zero-waste journey?

Have a little patience... It is a bit like going on a diet I suppose: It is very unlikely to change all your habits in one go and even if you did, you might not be able to sustain such huge lifestyle changes for long. Take small steps at a time instead, make a small change every week or a bigger one every month and I promise you, it gets easier every step you take. Also, just because you have started a zero-waste or plastic free or sustainable journey, does not mean that you need to throw away all your unsustainable products - on the contrary! Part of a zero waste lifestyle is to minimise the amount of resources you use, i.e. if you already have something, make sure that you use it up the best way you can to maximise the value of the resource that was used to make the product. I am currently using up my plastic razor, which I still have many blades for (I seemed to have really stocked up on those at some point). If I were to just throw the unused blades away, that would be even more wasteful as energy and material has gone into producing those. 
Sustainable influencer Elsa
image courtesy of Elsa

7. What's next for you?

A more major project over the next couple of years is to reduce the amount of clothes I buy and to create a sustainable capsule wardrobe. I have a lot of learning to do on this topic and really want to make it work, but I know it will take time. I have done a big declutter for my wardrobe and donated many clothes that I haven't worn in years to charity (hopefully they will find new loving homes), but as mentioned in my answer to the question above, it is not just about throwing everything away and replacing them. Buying better quality and only to replace, is the ideal that I am aiming for. Not there yet, but hopefully soon! 

8. Where can people find you?

I can be found on Instagram @elsaannukka and you can read my blog at www.elsaannukka.com.
There we have it, some amazing inspiration for all you budding zero-wasters!
Let us know what you thought of the interview by leaving a comment below, who would you like to see us interview next?




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