Sustainability Series: Zero Waste and Period Poverty with Hannah Barnes

HannahMeet Hannah Barnes, the blogger behind The Lazy Girl,  co-founder of The Crimson Wave and small business owner, in this weeks Sustainability Series Interview. She’ll be talking all things zero waste and giving us an insight into the ways in which she is hoping to combat period poverty.



You blog a lot about zero waste and plastic reduction. Could you please explain what this means and why it is important?

I began my zero waste journey at the start of this year, after the eco guilt got way too much for me!
For me, being zero waste is all about minimising my impact on the environment. By banning single use plastic from my home and looking for zero waste alternatives wherever possible, I’m doing my bit to help end the harm plastic brings to our wildlife, oceans and landscapes.

‘We don’t need a handful of people living a perfectly zero waste lifestyle, we need a million people doing it imperfectly.’

Recycling is a brilliant place to start, but we’re at a point now where recycling barely makes a dent. Not to mention the pollutants released whilst doing so. This is why I’ve decided to avoid plastic – and as much waste as possible – all together.
I’m still learning, but as my favourite Plastic Free Store says, we don’t need a handful of people living a perfectly zero waste lifestyle, we need a million people doing it imperfectly. I’m doing all I can to remove unnecessary waste from my life and save it from land fill. If I mess up? There’s always another day!

I think it’s really important to think like that. If you mess up once – it doesn’t mean you should stop trying. What steps do you take to help you become zero waste? Do you incorporate sustainable living into any other aspects of your life?

I started by doing my research. There’s a good post on my blog about how and where to start.
In short, figure out where you create the most waste in your life – for me it was definitely in the kitchen –  and then look for solutions.
Don’t just throw out all of your plastic containers, packaged items and whatever else you come across. This creates waste in itself and by reusing the plastic you’re still saving it from land fill. I’m still refilling a plastic water bottle on the daily, dreaming of the day it gives up the ghost and permits me to purchase a posh one.
They won’t hex you at the Plastic Free shop for filling up an old celebrations tub with pasta either. Take whatever you have and save buying a multitude of glass jars for later.
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Finally, don’t beat yourself up! Do what you can and take it step by step. As with anything, if you overwhelm yourself by deciding to do everything on day 1, you’re unlikely to make it past day 2.
Baby steps and a mindful, more conscious consumerism are the Ron and Hermione to your HP in this. And if it all gets a bit too much? List all the things you saved from landfill that day. It’s bound to make you smile.
I try and practice suitable living where ever possible – I switched to Bulb this year and now tell anyone who’ll listen that I get all of my energy from sustainable sources. Even so, I try and limit the use of the utilities at home and am even considering ditching my washing machine for an eco-friendly alternative. We’re in the process of growing our own veg, fruits and herbs and I’m looking into rain water collection as Manchester is rather blessed with the stuff!

I actually used a posh water bottle as an incentive to stop buying them, it works! What tips would you give to people who are looking to reduce their plastic waste but aren’t quite sure where to begin?

I found a couple of local plastic free shops where I stock up on bulk pantry items such as pasta, rice and oats. These places are springing up everywhere and because they’re small, independent stores you get to support local business along your zero waste journey.
Simply take along your own reusable containers and fill up for the week.
I also take my own containers to the butchers now, have sourced a milk man and get all of my eggs fresh from a local farm. A lot of the stuff is about going back to basics, avoiding the major supermarkets and simply doing your grocery shop in a more considered way. Another great tip is taking along reusable produce bags for fruits and veggies.


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When it comes to toiletries most of these zero waste shops have a nice selection of shampoo and conditioner bars. I was lucky enough to have a friend who makes them, but I’ve switched to a humble bar of soap for everything else and am making an effort to use up everything I already own before looking for alternative moisturisers and creams.
Seriously, clear out your cupboards and you’ll find a years supply of travel shampoos and gift set lotions already on hand. There is no point throwing them away, as this just creates waste in itself, and you can look for an eco-friendly alternative once you’ve made it through your hoard.

Tell us a bit about your charity, The Crimson Wave. What are the aims of the charity and what have you achieved so far?

The Crimson Wave aims to combat period poverty by supplying free, reliable and safe sanitary wear to anyone in need.
We’ve been at it for quite a few years now and have achieved so much! We’ve given out thousands of our period packs which we kit out with pads or tampons, panty liners and a bar of chocolate, raised thousands in donations and taken part in some great schemes with the BBC, Future Fires and a whole host of businesses looking to learn more.
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We are now looking to create our own website with some funding we recently received, to help teach young people about periods, period poverty and end the stigma that exists whenever the subject comes up. We believe that by ending the stigma, we can stamp out the secrecy that allowed period poverty to become the huge problem it is and help many more women have a dignified period for years to come.
If you’d like to throw a Period Packing Party for The Crimson Wave, get in touch and we’ll send you out a Party Pack free of charge. We’re based in Manchester, but we’re happy to spread the TCW message far and wide.
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Whilst we’re on the topic of periods, what do you think about menstrual cups? Do you see these becoming a sustainable option to help reduce period poverty in the future?

Menstrual cups are a wonderful product. At the moment, me and my co-founder: Trish Cartner, are using TCW as a platform to educate people on the menstrual cups and other reusable alternatives.
We believe they could be key in combating period poverty thanks to their sustainability  – we only need hand them out once!
Menstrual cups, and reusable pads, still exist on the fringes for most though and we’re finding a lot of people are reluctant to give them a go. We’re therefore researching ways to present these options in a manner that engages and excites people; giving them the push they need to give it a go. This will then make up a major part of our new website.
I’ll actually be doing a post on menstrual cups vs reusable pads myself this month – I’m just waiting on aunt Flo to show up – so keep an eye out for that!

I’ve always thought reusable alternatives to pads and tampons would benefit so many people. I guess it is just about finding a way to encourage people to give them a go. Thank you for your interview, Hannah!

You can find Hannah at her blog, The Lazy Girl. If you would like to host a period packing party, make sure to get in contact.

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