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Zero Waste Torfaen founder shares her story at Cwmbran public meeting

The founder of the Zero Waste Torfaen shop in Cwmbran has shared her story at a public meeting in the town.

Lauren Morse was one of the guest speakers at the How Green is Our Valley event in Mount Pleasant Hall on Thursday 12 October. Shoppers can visit her business in the unit next to The Tower on Redbrook Way in Southville with plastic bottles and refill them with many household products to avoid creating extra waste.

She spoke alongside Julie James MS, minister for climate change, and Cllr Anthony Hunt, leader of Torfaen Council.

Lauren said: “I was brought up sustainably, not from a planet perspective, just because we were poor. No car, hand-me-downs. So naturally we had to reuse things. As I grew it was just part of me, second nature. I started to question the way we were living as a family.”

She said wasn’t sure if it was the supermarkets who had “brainwashed” consumers into thinking they had to do one shop every week from a “big supermarket” or if was how people were “working all the hours”.

“I’m a big believer that the people have the power and we all live the change we want to see, change will happen around us. If everyone stopped buying washing-up liquid from the supermarket and got refills from my shop, the supermarkets would stop stocking it.’ They don’t care about anything, if people don’t buy something they stop selling it.

“My personal view is we all have a responsibility to leave this planet with as small a footprint as possible. As much as I want everybody to do everything they can to live more sustainably, I’m also a realist. I’m a 90s girl, a true millennial and I’ve seen a huge shift in the way people live in just my lifetime.”

She said that she’d “love to see everyone walking to school” but has to drive her children to school so she can “get to work on time. I get it”.

Making small changes

Buying shampoo bars, soap bars and fruit and veg without plastic packaging were “easy switches” Lauren suggested consumers could do to reduce their waste. She said there is a lot of advice on recycling waste, but that should come after consumers have reduced, reused and refilled as much as possible.

Lauren said: “Never use single use cups. If you want a posh coffee, take a cup with you. Make a promise to yourself, that you’ll never buy a bottle of water again

“Reuse and refill is the only way we’re going to get out of the mess we’re in. There are people in the UK who would kill to live near a zero waste shop, and you all do.” She said customers love telling her how many times they’ve refilled a particular bottle they’ve brought into her shop.

Cllr Anthony Hunt

Cllr Hunt said that it was that tackling climate change needed “less hot air from politicians and more actions.” He told the room that they had to “surround ourselves with people who don’t just say ‘yes’ and agree”. There are “3,000 people on the (housing) waiting list”, he said, and asked “how we do we deliver the number of houses the community needs in a sustainable way? How do we resolve that conflict? Doing nothing is not an option.”

He said that when it comes to encouraging people to walk and cycle more, it wasn’t about “blame” or “shame”, but “we need to buy more active travel routes and give them the choice, instead of taking away the choice.

“If we tackle the environment, it can be done in a way that boosts the economy and cuts bills.”

He estimated that less than half of homes in Torfaen use the brown bin for food waste and wanted to see how they could “convince people, rather than cajole” that using them is a good idea.

He said: “The council will not always get everything right. I want people to push and work with us to get to the solutions we need. I want to lead in a way that brings people along with us. Not stand up and say ‘I’m a leader, vote for me and the climate will be safe’. The best thing I can do as a leader is to hear that voice.”

Julie James MS, minister for climate change

She told the room: “Reduce, reuse, recycling. The hierarchy is that.” She said that the Welsh Government is bringing in a ban on single-use plastics in October and this would “force people in the supply chain” to think about “what’s coming next”.

When it came to recycling the minister dismissed what she called “nonsense on social media” where some claimed that waste “all goes in the same bin”. She said they took children “all the time to see how waste is separated.”

She said the Welsh Government was “determined” to introduce a deposit return scheme that included glass to make manufacturers “think about packaging”. This would shift the cost of recycling from the “public purse,” she added.

The minister said that the national grid in Wales is “not fit for purpose and is “driving a lot of the cost of living problems. It’s ridiculous that the energy markets are driving people into a cost of living crisis. It’s an outrage, We should be screaming in the streets.”

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Zero Waste Torfaen founder shares her story at Cwmbran public meeting

Lauren Morse gives talk at public meeting
Lauren Morse (centre) with Julie James MS and Cllr Anthony Hunt