We’re very excited to be kicking off our new interview series, The TA 10. We sat down with sustainability and ethical living writer and speaker, Rae Ritchie to ask her 10 questions and find out how we can all make a difference with small changes to our lifestyle. Rae currently writes for a range of publications, including her weekly column The Big Green Swap, which appears in Metro on Tuesdays.
1. What inspired you to get involved with the work we do and what have you done to show your support?
My big obsession is the concept of turning the dial: taking action that moves us one notch or more in the direction we want to go and the way we want to live. One simple way to do this is to be alert to opportunities to help others – and Toiletries Amnesty is a great example of this. We all have toiletries that we’ve been given but don’t really want or have used once and not got on with, so let’s pass them along to people who will use them. It’s supporting those in need and reducing waste.
Personally, I’ve donated to items to my nearest TA recipient, which is a support group for women who’ve experienced domestic abuse. Through my work, I’ve encouraged people to find out where they can donate too. More recently, I’ve promoted the recycled bracelets that TA are selling on the website. Again, it’s taking items that would otherwise go to waste and putting them to good use.
2. What would you like to see other people do to help?
I’m sure there’s a lot more that big brands and retailers could be doing to support the organisation but on an individual level, if we could organise a collection among our friends or local community (say a PTA group or a church) then the results would be amazing. It would also help to raise awareness of both Toiletries Amnesty and hygiene poverty more broadly.
3. What’s your favourite sustainable and affordable lifestyle/beauty tip that you’ve learned?
Get a tube squeezer key. They don’t cost much, you get lots more use out of a product with one and unlike when you cut a tube open, you don’t have to worry about the contents drying out.
4. What are the top 5 toiletries that you’d consider essential?
Hmm, I’m mentally running through my morning and evening routines to see what I would most miss… It has to be toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant and some kind of moisturiser.
5. If you could only choose one, which toiletry item would you not be able to live without?
My first thought was shampoo as my scalp soon tells me if I need to wash my hair but then then there’s toothpaste. I have a bad habit of going on trips and forgetting to pack my toothpaste so have felt the horrible effects of that plenty of times. I’ve also learnt the word for toothpaste in other languages as a result, so I’ll go with dentifricio per favore.
6. Where’s your favourite place on Earth? How have you seen it change?
Although I’m a landlocked Midlander, my favourite place is the sea. Visit any beach now and you’ll see how plastic pollution is changing the landscape. Whether it’s Santorini or Skegness, the shoreline is littered with bottles, bags and unidentified plastic debris that’s been washed up. It’s a visual reminder of the impact we’re having on the planet, much of which isn’t obvious in the same way but is happening, nonetheless.
7. What’s one small and easy change people can make to be more environmentally friendly?
Remember the 3Rs of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, are meant to be followed in that order. Recycling is the last resort.
8. What does it mean to you personally for people and companies to reduce their environmental impact?
We all need to do what we can. People often say to me that there’s no point in them trying to make changes to help the planet because governments and big business need to act and while that’s true, it doesn’t dissolve us of the responsibility to make a difference as well. Everyone has a role to play, however big or small.
9. Where do you see your industry making changes or what would you like to see them do to become more sustainable?
In my job, I get to hear about sustainability initiatives in lots of sectors and there’s definitely been an uptick in action over the last couple of years. That said, we still need far greater systemic change – using a small percentage of recycled plastic in a single-use bottle, for example, is not substitute for eliminating single-use plastic bottles altogether. And don’t get me started on airports congratulating themselves for introducing single-use coffee cup recycling bins!
10. Which three words do you try to live by?
Simplicity, connection, adventure.
“My big obsession is the concept of turning the dial: taking action that moves us one notch or more in the direction we want to go and the way we want to live.
One simple way to do this is to be alert to opportunities to help others – and Toiletries Amnesty is a great example of this. It’s supporting those in need and reducing waste.”