Interview with Nottingham Zero Waste Collective Owner, Sarah Maloy | #PlasticFreeJuly Blog

I am honoured to have Sarah Maloy, owner of Nottingham Zero Waste Collective, as my guest for my blog this month for Plastic Free July.

Sarah Maloy, Owner of Nottingham Zero Waste Collective
Sarah Maloy, Owner of Nottingham Zero Waste Collective

She had a Plastic-Free Pop-Up shop running for a couple of days back in April, May and June this year at the THINK in NG Meeting space in Nottingham City Centre.

I passed by her stall once and we had a chat, finding that we have a lot in common and the passion to make a better change to people lives and the environment. I noticed that Sarah had a copy of Bea Johnson’s book sitting on one of the shelves: Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life. We both expressed our admiration for this woman who started a blog that gradually lead to a worldwide movement.

We hope that we might inspire you while reading this interview with Sarah to use less plastic this month and think about other alternatives.


Mona: Hi Sarah! What does “Zero Waste Life” mean in your perspective?

Sarah: Hi Mona and the Organising Ninja Gang! Well, a Zero Waste life to me means to ‘consume consciously’ so that you are taking steps to minimise the waste you generate in your life.  Blue Planet II highlighted the problems that plastic is causing in our world; polluting our oceans, injuring wildlife and also likely affecting the health of us all. So I empower myself with information so I can live more consciously. This means that I plan as much as I can, my meals and shopping for example, and I always carry my reusable water bottle, take my reusable cup, straws and produce bags wherever I go so I don’t get caught out and end up with any plastic packaging.

Mona: As a Nottingham resident, spreading awareness in our local communities about clutter and its negativities is a social responsibility for me. If you agree with this, how would you approach people who haven’t heard about Zero Waste Life?

Sarah: When I talk to people about following a zero waste lifestyle I generally explain that I am reducing the waste I create as I am concerned about our environment. I originally trained as a Biologist and I know that we are part of the environment and not separate from it. We have a responsibility to protect it as it provides us with so much; the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.  I often talk about Blue Planet II as a lot of people saw that.  I explain how sad that makes me feel, and that makes me want to take some action.  

Mona: There is a strong connection between the “living with less clutter” concept and the Zero Waste Life movement. I had a client where after a big clear out, they wanted to make sure they won’t accumulate clutter again. How can adopting a Zero Waste Life help them in that?

Sarah: When you become more aware of the waste you create, you automatically start to reduce it.  I started out following the 3Rs, in this order – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle but over 2 years ago, when I read about the zero waste movement and the damage that our waste is doing to the world, I added in some more – now I start with Refuse!  And also include Repair in the Rs, so, with a fantastic group of people, I also coordinate Nottingham Fixers, a voluntary community repair group who run repair cafe to help people fix their broken things rather than throw them away and buy new ones.   

Mona: I have visited your “Plastic Free Pop-Up Shop” at THINK in NG. The aroma of your products reminded me of shops in the good old days where goods are displayed in front of you. Do you think millennials would be interested in buying in bulk instead of buying conveniently from a supermarket?

Sarah: We are social human beings and it’s in our nature to want to interact with each other, they can do that is a ‘slow-shopping’ experience at a bulk market such as the one I run with Nottingham Zero Waste Collective.  I also think that people are wanting to make a connection with their food when they buy in a ‘market’ type environment they are doing that. Finding out where our food comes from, knowing that it’s been grown in a sustainable way, shopping locally, are all connections that people crave, and for good reason.

Mona: The temptations of consumerism nowadays lure people into making the wrong purchasing choices, and that sometimes end with accumulative clutter in their homes and might end with hoarding issues, along with serious mental and health problems. I saw this in many homes and it is sad to see this happening. From an environmental point of view, what would be the shocking element to use to make people wake up from this?

Sarah: With all this ‘unconscious’ consuming the human race has become detached from our impact on the environment. In nature, things come into being, they die, decay and go back to the earth and support new things then to grow.  It’s a beautiful cycle that keeps on repeating itself as it is so successful and makes sense.  As humans we are taking from our environment and generating new things and then we are discarding them; we are not completing the circle. When I visit schools, I show the children a plastic bottle of water. I say that when you have spent your few minutes drinking the water from the bottle, where does this bottle go? What happens to it? Then I show them the landfill hole in the ground, some plastic bottles littering our streets and on our beaches some bottles on our beaches.  Then, there are also some shocking images of wildlife… but I always follow up with the positive changes we can easily make!

Mona: I support a minimalist lifestyle, and I coach clients who want to live a simpler, richer life. It is sometimes a drastic change and close family members, or friends can stop them and not support them in this journey. I believe that you face many challenges in your “Plastic Free Pop-Up Shop”. What are they?

Sarah: Unfortunately society isn’t really set-up to minimise our waste. Many of our food staples are packaged and it’s not always convenient to shop in our own containers.  I think the biggest challenge is to buy staples without plastic, like pasta, rice etc. Then there’s coffee and nuts and seeds. Packaging from these types of items were ending up in my bin so these are the things I decided to sell.  I think once people become aware of the single-use plastic around them they start to want more information about other choices they could make, such as ditching wipes and using a flannel. Or refusing straws, or covering their leftover food with a plate rather than cling film.

Mona: Last but not least, what final message would you like to send to our readers?

Sarah: If you’re concerned about the state of our environment, don’t despair, there are always things you can do. Plan for some simple plastic swaps such as using a reusable water bottle and coffee cup for when you’re out and about. How about walking when you can and not driving your car? Maybe go on a litter pick or join a local wildlife group. Or perhaps de-clutter and send some items to charity for others to use!

Good luck and go and make a difference!

Check out Sarah on her Social Media:






6 Replies to “Interview with Nottingham Zero Waste Collective Owner, Sarah Maloy | #PlasticFreeJuly Blog”

  1. Well done Sarah.

    It is so very nice to see you are dedicated in this. With a couple of other friends, together we ran a Caring food Coop in the University for a 2 -3 years but had to stop unfortunately due to lack of space and time. But I would like to get back to it in any way possible to support it.

    1. Hi Ken. Which Uni are you involved with? I’m planning to meet with both Universities to see how we can work together. Maybe this is the time to get involved again, if you do wish?

  2. Hi Sarah

    Thanks for your response. I am working in the UoN. It was about 6 years ago when we started doing it. I was doing my PhD at that time and lived on campus, which made it suitable for doing this.

    I moved off campus in 2015 and work full time in the University, Unfortunately it became unsuitable for me to continue that and had to stop it.

    It is nice to see you are doing it. Probably I am not able to get involved in it in the same way as I did before, but I would like to start with doing what I can.

    Best Wishes

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