How to Shop Like an Eco Warrior

In this episode, we focus on the big picture. Looking at our culture, our mindset around shopping, and why we must move away from the traditional linear economy.

Show Notes

Shopping is not just about what we buy. It’s about how we buy, our economy, our culture, and our mindset.

Here’s a chance to hear from Eco Warrior and Little Soap Company owner Emma Heathcote-James about her views on the linear vs circular economy, how society and mindsets need to change, the global challenge, and some of the lessons and positives from COP26.

What is How to Shop Like an Eco Warrior?

I’m Emma Heathcote-James, owner and founder of Little Soap Company, a sustainable, ethical, global soap and beauty business. I wanted to do this podcast because I’m passionate about the planet, about protecting communities and nature rather than harming them. And I’m optimistic. I know businesses like ours, and people like you, can and will make a difference.

But we have to be realistic. Not everyone knows what they can do, how they can change, or what they can do to help.

By listening to this, you’ll be a step closer to a greener, more sustainable and eco-style of living. We’ll be discussing the issues and sharing trends and ideas through interviews with other awesome and exciting challenger brands. We hope you’ll go away inspired and empowered to make little changes in your life that will help protect the earth.

Shop like an Eco Warrior. In an ideal world, we would all do this. And by making small swaps I believe we can all work towards this goal. I'm Emma Heathcote-James, founder of the multi-award-winning certified B Corporation 'Little Soap Company', which created the challenger brand 'Eco Warrior'. In this episode, we focus on the bigger picture. This means looking at our whole culture, our mindset around what we buy, and why we must move away from the traditional linear economy. Our whole approach to the economy and shopping needs a reset, a rethink and rework. Globally, 380 million tonnes of plastic is produced each year. 91% of this plastic is not recycled. And we know only 50% of bathroom waste gets recycled in the UK compared to 90% of waste in the kitchen. Plastic is a massive and urgent issue. And you can hear more about this in our 'Plastic Crisis' podcast. But a greener future a more environmentally friendly world covers a multitude of other aspects. It means a focus on sustainability. In other words, finding a way to continue operating and living without depleting resources from the earth and future generations. It means protecting the planet's animals, wildlife, marine life, oceans, forests and nature. It means reducing carbon emissions to stop further climate change, which will cause dangerous weather and environmental changes to our world. And it also means caring about the well being of all communities, protecting their rights and raising living standards. All of these factors sit behind what ends up in our shopping bags or online baskets. Environmentalists believe we need to move towards a circular economy. So what do we mean by a circular economy? Circular refers to an economy where we can create products designed to be used, then reused and used again. This approach offers better value to buyers is energy and carbon-efficient, and it reduces landfill and waste. The more manufacturers that buy into this concept, the more sustainable and less harmful to the earth our economy will be. The opposite of a circular economy is what we've become used to in recent years, the linear economy. Linear is when something is produced, bought, used, thrown away, and a new one bought again. This is the exact opposite of sustainable but has sadly become our culture. We know some manufacturers actually produce products with a specific shelf-life; printers that only print so many sheets before breaking, or phones that have updates that eventually render them obsolete. It's rife in electricals, creating a demand for the next shiny thing. The fashion industry too relies on us wanting new trends every season. And excess consumerism is driven by global shopping events like Black Friday. There's some evidence the tide is turning on some of these environmentally harmful aspects of our shopping culture. It's not just eco warriors like me who reject the excess buying season seen on Black Friday. As a business, Little Soap Company has never taken part in principle, our prices are honest, we can't suddenly offer huge discounts. It is reassuring though to see a backlash from some big brands echoing the sentiment. Swedish brand 'All Birds' actually put their prices up for Black Friday, donating the additional funds to a climate change charity and Patagonia who put out an advert boldly stating "Do not buy this jacket", in an effort to combat throwaway fashion culture. We don't just need to change the economy. We need to change our collective mindset, a way that business leaders have often tried to convince us that the linear approach is okay is to tell us that we can recycle. But as important as recycling is, it's far from the whole answer. It only offers part of a solution. However, the process itself uses resources and as we know, most plastics are not recycled. A more environmentally friendly mindset is to focus on what we genuinely need, and on refilling, reusing, repurposing and repairing. It almost feels a bit old fashioned and wartime like as a concept, because we've come conditioned to chucking stuff away. However, vintage clothing, repair shops, upcycled furniture and refillable products are becoming increasingly on-trend. And this is what we need; a mindset that sees maintaining and keeping our things as appealing; and eco friendly and sustainable products the mainstream, not the niche. But there's still a long way to go. Because while big volume manufacturers can keep their margins high by filling our shelves with unsustainable products, there will be no incentive for them to change apart from a change in the law, or if consumers demand it. This is such a shame because they have the power, the resource and scale to bring about change and make it accessible to everybody. So for now, it will probably be the challenger brands like us and the environmentally-conscious consumers like you who will continue to lead and influence change for the whole market. Together, we will get the big manufacturers to sit up, take notice and make better products, quite simply because it's the right thing to do. And they have their reputations to protect. Change is needed on a global scale, and COP26 offered a glimmer of hope. COP26 happened back in November 2021 and was important because it was supposed to give us all hope about the future. COP, as you may well know, is the Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where countries gather to discuss and negotiate global climate commitments. It's also a place where stakeholders, charities and businesses involved in the environment can speak up on the issues. All eyes were on COP26 due to the UN Secretary General calling the recent Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change a "code red for humanity". Sadly, the outcomes of negotiations fell short of the conference's ultimate goal, which was to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, as promised in the Paris agreement back in 2015. However, I do like to see the positive where possible, and there were some highlights. Reversing deforestation has been committed to by over 100 countries with 85% of the world's forests, with funds earmarked to make this happen. The UK pledged to ensure large corporations and financial entities are genuinely working towards climate change targets and their operations, not just greenwashing. And a coalition of countries, cities, car manufacturers and other organisations said they will work towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero-emission globally by 2040. And by no later than 2035 in leading markets, although US, Germany and China were notably absent from this agreement, which I find shocking. When you look at what needs to happen globally, in society, our culture and our economy, it can seem too big or even an achievable. But look change, especially Global Change takes time, and it needs a high level of engagement to make it happen. As individuals, we can only control our role in it, which is why I will keep fighting and educating and making sure my business is authentically beneficial to the world. So as we draw to an end, let's quickly recap. In this podcast you learned about why we need a change in our mindset, the difference between a linear and circular economy, how some brands are rejecting excess consumerism, and some of the outcomes of COP26. Remember, doing something is better than doing nothing. Lots of people taking small steps, future generations thinking differently about what and how they buy pressure on world leaders to make pledges and stick to them. It all takes us in the right direction. If you want to do a deeper dive into topics touched on in this podcast, head over to our blog and 'Eco Bathroom' area at You can also follow me Emma Heathcote-James, Little Soap Company and Eco Warrior Soap on Instagram. And you can listen to our other podcasts, including hearing the Little Ssoap Company journey, the plastic crisis and getting the lowdown on greenwashing which are all also available where you found this one and on iTunes, Spotify and Google podcasts.