The anti-waste movement is growing, not just because it’s the right thing to do but because it makes us feel good, says Tara. ‘When we launched our site, hundreds of people got in touch to say: “At last! I’ve been wanting this for years.” Initially it was baby boomers who remember when things used to last and were feeling increasingly frustrated with their appliances breaking after 18 months, but now we’re seeing a surge in younger customers.’ No matter what the age or reason – it seems that it really is time to throw away our throwaway culture, as the following women know and are proving…
Olio app creator Tessa Cook
Mother-of-two Tessa was head of e-commerce for Dyson before she struck upon the idea for Olio, an app for giving away unwanted food.
‘I was moving house and hated the thought of throwing away the food in my fridge,’ says Tessa. ‘I thought about knocking on the doors of neighbours, but would I embarrass them by offering them food? It seemed crazy that there wasn’t a solution.’
So she came up with one: creating an app for people to post pictures of food that they won’t eat. This sends an alert to other app users in the area, who can then pick up the food. Olio now has over 242,000 users across the country and has prevented over 417,200 food items from going to waste.
Tessa says, ‘The app is building a new sense of community. People are inviting each other to dinner parties and helping each other out. It’s a return to old-fashioned values.’
Rubies in the Rubble founder Jenny Costa
Jenny was working for a Cityhedge fund when she read about the huge amounts of food being thrown away by supermarkets. Furious, she quit her job and started Rubies in the Rubble, a company that turns fruit and vegetables that would be discarded or fail supermarket inspections into pickles, relishes and chutneys.
‘I grew up on a farm on the West Coast of Scotland, so I know how much work goes into producing food,’ she says.
Rubies in the Rubble now sells in Waitrose, Ocado, Harrods and Selfridges and is used by the Eat chain, Marriott hotels and Virgin trains. Each week Virgin gives Jenny around 1,000 apples that would be thrown away by the train’s catering service, which she turns into chutney and sells back to the company. ‘I’m passionate about being a business not a charity,’ she says.
Author Ruby Warrington
Ruby, author of Material Girl, Mystical World, has challenged herself to not buy new clothes in 2017, although buying second-hand or vintage is allowed.
‘We vote with every pound we spend and fashion is the second “dirtiest” industry after oil. My decision is my way of voting for what I believe when it comes to the environment,’ she says, adding, ‘it’s been surprisingly easy and there’s a real thrill when I find something fabulous that costs a fraction of what I’d have spent on it new.’
Ruby isn’t alone in her fight to reduce fashion waste. According to a report by Wrap, experts in resources efficiency, we are binning 50,000 fewer tonnes of clothing every year. Not only are we now more likely to pass on unwanted items to charity shops, swap at fashion parties or sell online, but buying second-hand and on auction websites is also on the up.
Zero Waste Week founder Rachelle Strauss
Nine years ago, mother-of-one Rachelle, who runs a web agency, set herself the challenge of filling no more than one dustbin of rubbish for the whole year. She blogged about her Gloucestershire-based family’s enterprise, and in 2009 founded the annual Zero Waste Week, which is now followed by millions of people around the world.
On her website Rachelle shares tips for reducing waste, from bringing your own bag to the supermarket to joining a ReStart party where you take your broken electrical appliances along and get shown how to fix them. She says: ‘Living a waste-free life involves rebuilding communities. We are a lonely and individualistic culture that has been treating our isolation with “stuff”, but we’re seeing a change and are moving away from that life.’