Climate and environmental journalist, author, and broadcaster Lucy Siegle needs little introduction. Largely reporting on plastic waste, as well as the fashion industry’s sustainability problem, she’s a reliable name for advice on reducing your plastic footprint.
Her book, Turning the Tide on Plastic (£8.36, Bookshop.org), for example, is essential reading if you’re looking for a sustainable living title that cuts through the noise. It provides hard-hitting facts, as well as simple solutions – including her “reduce, rethink, refill, refuse” approach – to making sure your lifestyle has less of an impact on our precious planet.
And her forthcoming title Be the Ultimate Friend of the Earth (£10.99, Waterstones.com) is eagerly anticipated. It’s all about demystifying “environmental action and fills in the knowledge gaps in a fun way”, she tells The Independent. For change to happen, “we need every person to be a better ally to the planet” and to do that they need “context, confidence and connection”, which is exactly what the book provides.
Considering her wealth of knowledge, we asked Siegle her advice when it comes to partaking in the upcoming Plastic Free July challenge – an annual movement that encourages people to reduce their plastic consumption for the whole month. Naturally, she urges you to just “go for it!”.
“It’s a great time to join the global push to end the plastic crisis” because there is a “UN global treaty to tackle plastic waste,” she tells us. On a personal level, her recommendation is that you “try and form plastic-free habits because these will stick. For example, keep your reusable water bottle next to the front door with your wallet and keys so you can just grab and go”.
But, “aside from individual action”, you must “know that you are not alone”, she notes. To feel part of the global movement, she recommends that you sign up for alerts from City To Sea – a charity dedicated to fighting plastic waste. And “think about how you can engage your street, your community and or local businesses” because there are “thousands of communities and businesses heading towards Plastic Free status”, which you can find out about at PlasticFree.org.uk.
Naturally, we were most interested in her Gamechangers – the things that really make a difference in her day-to-day life. As you’d expect, her must-haves are eco-conscious, and she even introduced us to a new food label that we’ve now bookmarked. What she doesn’t know about sustainable living isn’t worth knowing, so consider this your guide to a more eco-friendly life from the woman who knows best.
Sustainable living book I love: ‘Who Cares Wins: Reasons For Optimism in Our Changing World’ by Lily Cole, published by Penguin
“I absolutely love Lily Cole’s book Who Cares Wins: Reasons For Optimism in Our Changing World. I found it really useful on making better choices and just reconnecting with the fact that I am privileged to have a lot of agency but I could use it better.
“Lily Cole is a very smart cookie, but also a good listener (a very good combination, I think) who has gone out of her way to engage with people who have a vision of a sustainable planet that is compelling and achievable. I read it and thought, ‘YES! Why not?!’”.
Buy now £9.29, Bookshop.org
The beauty product I swear by: Davines the renaissance circle
“I had this product applied at my hairdressers (who are part of the Green Salon Collective network of hairdressers) but found that it is only normally sold to ‘consumers’ in pouches. I never buy anything in pouches because it’s not good value and I’m yet to find one that can be recycled. So I wrote to Davines and demanded to buy a tub! I have now found it on sale in tubs that can be returned – but I use them as plant pots because they are aesthetically pleasing. I also now use a Davines shampoo bar (£15, Davines.com) to displace plastic shampoo bottles. It’s really good even with my ‘hopeless hair’.”
Buy now £44.08, Glamot.com
The household cleaning brand I recommend: Neat
“About 15 years ago I became aware of the amount of oil (and clever engineering) in trigger sprays that perch on the top of average single-use bottles of cleaning spray and I couldn’t believe these were binned after the bottle was empty. I’ve long since rescued bottles and made my own vinegar and bicarb solutions. But these were imperfect and sometimes blocked the bottle.
“Thank goodness the industry has caught up and you can now buy refills in the supermarkets. My favourite in an increasingly busy marketplace is Neat. The aluminium bottle and trigger spray are really good, easy to refill, robust and don’t get clogged, and the refills (£2.50, Neatclean.com) are widely available. I think it’s an excellent product.”
Buy now £27.00, Neatclean.com
The reusable water bottle everyone needs: Refill x Chilly’s bottle
“The stand out for me is Refill x Chillys water bottle for City to Sea (£10 goes to the Bristol-based reuse charity fighting plastic waste). There’s a space on the back to write your name so nobody can pinch it. But remember you also need a brush to clean your water bottle properly. I recommend this coconut bottle brush (£4.95, Andkeep.com).”
Buy now £20.00, Chillys.com
The planet-friendly food label: Hodmedod’s
“If you consume meat and dairy, look for companies, brands and retailers that have won or been highly commended in the annual Compassion in World Farming awards. There is a strong connection between animal welfare and better environmental standards and these awards have strong methodology and processes. Waitrose for example – the 2022 retailer of the year winner – recognises animals as sentient beings, which has implications for all suppliers.
“Increasingly I buy more plant-based foods. Rather than standards or badges, I look for the best packaged products. Avoiding rigid plastics and vacuum-sealed packaging from the chill cabinets (energy-intensive and hard to recycle) and going instead for frozen products if I’m buying burgers or sausage replacements – in cardboard. I also prioritise brands, such as Quorn, that are meat-free first, rather than meat brands that are keeping up market share with a side order of plant-based.
“I’m also interested in diversifying our diets. We tend to eat the same three crops, which encourages monoculture farming, which by its nature is unsustainable. In order for soils to be able to regenerate we need a more diverse range of crops to be grown. Hodmedod’s grows all sorts of delicious pulses and grains on UK soils, which also encourages food security. I think it’s fantastic.”
Buy now £16.99, Hodmedods.co.uk
The one thing always in my handbag: Portable cutlery
“My portable cutlery set. Leave behind if you’re going through airport security, they will confiscate the knife.”
Siegle didn’t specify her exact set, but the black+blum three-piece set looks like a great option.
Buy now, Lakeland.co.uk
Lucy Siegle’s forthcoming book Be the Ultimate Friend of the Earth(£10.99, Waterstones.com) will be available from 7 July.
For discounts on sustainable living essentials, try the link below:
Looking for more eco-friendly finds? Read our guide to the best refillable household products to help you reduce plastic waste