Can you tell our readers a little about what you do and your journey so far?
Hello, I am Mel and I am the founder of a small business called Zero Waste Goods. My journey started from a curiosity about food and how it ends up on our plate. I watched the slaughter of a pig at an eco-retreat and read the book Cradle to Cradle within the space of a few months and I dedicated myself to understanding as much as I could about plastic, supply chain, agriculture and our delicate ecosystem. I am fascinated by the circular economy and determined to do my bit to help the planet.
Last year I launched the world's first Zero Waste Christmas Market in London. During the process the event hit national news and ended up attracting visitors from across the UK and even Europe.
I now run regular Zero Waste Markets across the UK partnering with venues such as the iconic Old Spitalfields in London to help people transition to a zero waste lifestyle. Right now, I am spending all my time working on delivering four Christmas Markets that will be popping up in Manchester, London & Brighton.
I also curate a global founder network of eco-entrepreneurs who are committed to doing better for people & planet to help them scale sustainably. Finally, in my spare time, I work to support the Plastic Hackathon project, an initiative that allowed me to coordinate full-day design thinking workshops to solve the plastic crisis, involving brands such as Lush, JustEat, M&S, Sky Ocean Ventures & Innovate UK. I also helped to launch this project in schools, working with young people to produce viable business solutions to the plastic crisis.
So excited for the next Zero Waste Christmas Market, when and where will this be taking place this year?
I have four Zero Waste Christmas Markets happening across the country. Manchester, at Hatch, is our launch event on the 29th + 30th of November. A two-day festival of sustainability with talks, workshops, entertainment and 25 awesome eco brands. London comes next with a late-night Christmas Market at Old Spitalfields on the 4th of December, which is a warm up event to the big London exhibition on the 7th December at The Boiler House at the Truman Brewery in East London. Finally, our last market is in Brighton on the 15th of December.
Can you share with our readers a sneak preview of some of the amazing companies that will be trading?
Some of the brands I am excited about (other than Radical Giving - which goes without saying!) are some veterans from last year such as Fatty’s Organic Gin, Notty Reclaimed and Gung-Ho London. These guys make organic gin, rescue wood from landfill and carve it into amazing products and are one of London’s finest in sustainable fashion respectively. New-comers who I am delighted about include GreenWeave who make hand-woven cushions from recycled materials, Oya Goods who create Earth-friendly goods for motherhood and Rethinkwrap a reusable wrapping paper company disrupting the festive paper market. We have over 100 brands attending across the UK which will be the largest sustainable showcase the UK has yet seen. So many more to come.
Can you tell us the most moving experience that you’ve had?
Watching my twin sister get married. It’s so strange when you see someone you’ve grown up with, who looks exactly the same as you, transform from a small, bookish child to a beautiful, self-confident woman. She looked amazing and her partner is a fabulous edition to the family. It was an amazing day and, as maid of honour, one I will never forget!
What is your life motto?
It’s more of a quote: “This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou. I love the boundless optimism and with this line of work, an optimistic outlook is vital!
What can you not live without?
In terms of sustainable products I love my Allbirds shoes (totally eco friendly) and my reusable water bottle goes with me everywhere. In terms of health, my gym membership combined with almond butter. Also, my family, friends and of course amazing partner Matt who has been so supportive the whole way.
What have you learnt so far?
My biggest lesson is twofold: firstly, get into the arena and act! There is no point waiting on the sidelines with an idea, or ambition hoping someone will pick you. You need to pick yourself. Go out there and do. Secondly, you will always be surprised at the number of people you don’t yet know who will come to your aid once you get started. The sustainability movement is strong, raw, vibrant and emotional with a huge number of people already working hard to make change.
There is so much room for everyone and I am always amazed by the kindness of strangers. I’ve met so many incredible people on this journey simply because I acted and asked for help.
What is your favourite food?
Does almond butter count?
What was the last thing you bought?
I recently bought a pair of earrings from Gung-Ho London, one of my favourite sustainable fashion designers on the planet. Sophie, the founder, is passionate about the planet and her designs are just gorgeous. She uses innovative materials like eucalyptus fibre and peace silk to make the clothing from, plus the actual designs on the pieces cleverly incorporate hot sustainability topics such as food waste, wonky veg, the bee decline and the health of our oceans. So you can wear statements that create curiosity and conversation in a stylish and understated way. I've coveted these earrings for a long time and finally got the chance to buy!
Of all time? I think pulling off the Christmas market last year was pretty amazing! The feeling of having so many people attend, the vendors being able to make a profit on their products and homes filled with sustainable products, compostable cards and zero waste wrapping paper last Christmas gives me all the joy! Plus working with Dhruv Boruah to bring the Plastic Hackathon to schools and seeing the results of that day was also pretty awesome.
What advice would you give to the younger generation?
I believe that collaboration, conversation and community will be the cornerstones of the next generation and that their value systems will reflect that.
The world that once was might be disappearing, but they have the chance to create a new one. Yes it will look different to what has come before, but never give up that is still worth fighting for. Always be open to having a conversation, especially the hard ones. Change happens in the margins but in this equation we need both sides to meet. Look for a second opinion when you can and always demand the truth.
After this festive season is over, and I’ve had a holiday, I am looking to develop my concept further by launching some online technology and perhaps experimenting with longer-term pop up residencies. I have also got plans to be involved in running more Plastic Hackathons in the public and private sector to help the focus shift to radical solutions and collaboration at every level.
Check out more of Zero Waste Goods here - https://www.zerowastegoods.com/