Why did you want to do Trash Monsters?
I know it's something that's a very serious subject. It's certainly easy to just go, “Yes, let's take our reusable bags and reusable water bottles and every now and then have a meat free day or whatever to do your little bit for environment.” But we've got to see what's going on in the world around us and see that the world is on fire. We're really at the very, very serious point of no return. And it was that, for me, I think, and for my family, because we try to do the best and we want to do the best, but it's easy to forget about climate change when you’re leading busy lives. So I thought by really immersing the family and especially myself into this issue we can see how dramatic it actually is, and actually how much rubbish our family produces and how we've really got to make a much, much bigger effort. I thought we were quite good at the beginning but doing something like this was a real eye-opener. It was full-on but at the same time you have to really fully immerse yourself in it to really learn things.
How would you rate your lifestyle in terms of sustainability?
I mean, obviously, I love my cars, I love to drive. We live in the country and when I come up to London, I just jump in the car rather than get on a train or public transport. And we eat a lot of meat. We are not the best recyclers, but we do try to recycle. We've got two bins at home. We've got a recycling bin and then a general waste bin. I was kind of like, "Oh, does that go in the recycling bin?" And then you go, "Oh, I don't know so let’s just put it in the general waste bin." We just got into this pattern of thinking that we were good, when actually, we weren't good at all. But I learned differently when I started this show.
Is your son more eco-conscious than your generation, would you say?
100%, yes. I think through school and just what's been around and talked about, he's 10 years old now, since he could understand he has been aware of climate issues. I think the school systems now are really pretty good in highlighting it to that generation. So he was very proud I was doing this show. Obviously he's a kid. He likes to have his bag of sweets and wrappers, lots of wrappers, but actually the worst person was me and I thought I was the most conscious of all of us. So yeah. It was a really interesting process.
Is climate change something you worry about?
You see mass wildfires, you've watched David Attenborough documentaries, you suddenly go, "Wow, this is really, really happening. And it's happening really, really quickly." We're already seeing it in our lifetime and I've got a little 10 year old. What he's going to see in his lifetime doesn’t bear thinking about, and if it takes me to dress up as a garbage bin to create some interest in it or highlight it for us to learn, then that’s what I’ll do. I think it's a very, very serious thing. I mean, this is happening right in front of our eyes and we really have to change and we have to change now.
Has it made you rethink how you do things around the topic of cars?
Yeah, absolutely. It's something that I kind of went into the show and my worry was, "I love my cars, I've got a huge car show. I rate cars, I love classic cars." This has been part of my life for such a long time, I obviously know that they are massive polluters so do I need to really stop doing this? And my thinking is, "Well, can I offset it?" So I'm much more conscious about not having meat all the time, being really, really rigorous with recycling, if we were doing all of these other things, would that kind of make a balance that would make it all right? That's why I went into the show with all these questions, which you see get answered throughout the show.
And what sort of answers did you come to by the end of filming?
I think you need to watch to see the process to understand it. But owning a restaurant as well was part of my journey on this show. So it was whether I can run hospitality and be very conscious of the environment too. Can I balance it to offset the negativity of using gas or waste or all these other things that aren't great for the environment? So that was my journey, but yes, I learned a lot and I'm having to adjust a lot as well.
One industry that has been coming under a lot of criticism is fast fashion, what do you make of that as someone who’s worked in the fashion world for a long time?
I think it's got to stop. It really has. The dyes that they use, the processes that they use, I've always, always been adamant that even though it's slightly more expensive, get something that's got quality that you can see, which might be made in the UK and is much more kind of on top of the dying processes. That is better than fast fashion. So things that you might spend a little bit more on, but will last you for half a lifetime. And then to recycle clothes more, there are these wonderful apps at the moment where you can sell your outfits, bags or shoes or whatever. You can kind of swap and change, which is really important. There are amazing things happening to support that, but the fashion world really has to put its foot down on fast fashion. I know Stella McCartney did her show in Paris this year and all the shoes and handbags were made from mushrooms. She’s always been at the forefront of that and she's proven that we can do it, but you know, obviously not everyone can afford the McCartney handbag or whatever, but it's just showing people that it can be done. We're all going to have to stop ourselves going, "I'm going on holiday or going to a party, I need something new”, stop ourselves getting that one dress for one event or one holiday. We really need to think about these things more.
Talking of fashion, what was it like wearing the trash suit?
It was a really, really hot period during the summer that we filmed the show. When I first saw it, I was like, "Oh my God, I've certainly worn worse things down the catwalk”. I have worn some outrageously ridiculous stuff down the catwalk, especially when we started talking about Japanese designers and things like that. Really, really bonkers. But it's actually the rubbish within it that made it so bad. The stench of it was just horrific. But I really, really learned, and if it takes me to look ridiculous in front of the nation for people to go, "God, actually, that's unbelievable. Maybe we should rethink things," then I'm happy.
Why was it so challenging?
You're literally wearing your trash and trying to get on with your every day. I had to get Indie to school. I was trying to make food. I became a walking cesspit. So yeah, it was really full-on. And it was just so hot. I think if we had filmed at a slightly different time where it wasn't 30 degrees every day, I don't think it would have been so smelly!
What was the reaction from people in your pub and on the school run?
They we're pretty good, like, “honestly, what are you doing now?!” They are so used to me doing ridiculous things, maybe not on this extent, but whether I'm getting ready to row around the country or whether I'm kind of doing this or that crazy thing. I've been born and bred here, so they're quite used to me doing weird things. But then I explained what I was doing and why and they were like, "Wow, actually it’s very interesting." I did worry initially, I was like, "Oh my God, everyone's going to think I've totally lost the plot!” But actually, their reactions were fantastic, and they were really quite shocked about how much waste we go through as a family that cooks from scratch, as a family that grows their own veg and doesn’t do takeaways every day. They were like, "wow, okay. That's really serious." So it was brilliant, everyone’s reaction was really brilliant. I mean somewhat shocked, but brilliant!
Did your partner stay away from you while you were in the trash suit?
Yeah, he couldn't get near me anyway. It got so gross I had to stay outside, and I couldn't get
through the door anyway because I had so much rubbish attached to me.
Jon laid out all your rubbish in a field, how did you feel seeing it all in one place like that?
I was shocked. It was like, "wow." Every week, 52 weeks of the year. And all of that is going into landfill and polluting our beautiful planet, what are we doing?”. We only have one planet and it’s already screaming at us, saying, "stop." And I'm not helping at all. I thought I was being good, but I'm not. It was totally embarrassing seeing all my rubbish laid out like that, mortifying but a wakeup call to say the least.
You are a family of meat eaters, have you ever considered going vegan?
To me as a country girl who’s known their local butcher since I was born, I know how he raises his cows, how he butchers them. It’s just part of my life. I know that they're fed beautifully well, they're wonderfully looked after. I'm not happy about mass factory farming meat, that’s awful, but eating meat is part of living in the country, it's all around me and everyone I know eats meat. We're country people. There's not many vegans out here. The whole kind of vegan angle was approached and is definitely something that I'm not anti, but I just couldn't eat that way all the time. I get it, but I was like, "oh my God. I'm not ready for that yet." But actually when Jon (Richardson) started telling me all the stats of what is going on with animals, with mass breeding, mass butchering, all of these things, it's just unsustainable for this planet. And so yes, if that means stop eating meat every day, bringing it right down to maybe twice or three times a week, then we've looked at that very seriously and have actually adopted into our lives since doing the show.
Is there anything else that you've adopted into your lives since doing this show?
We're really focused on being good with recycling. I remember I ran out the door to go into the shop the other day and my son was like, "Mum, Mum, where's your bag? Where's your bag?" So good, because sometimes we'd go, "Oh, God, we've forgotten our bags!" I then have to buy a whole new load of plastic bags for the shopping. He's also been washing things out before putting it in the recycling bin. So we are really much more aware of what we need to do and really trying to make it part of our everyday lives now.
Do you hope that people watching might pick up on a few little things they can do in their own homes?
Yeah, that is basically the whole point of the show and why I wanted to do it. I wanted to do it because I'm not 100% sure on what I’m supposed to do myself, I find it a bit confusing. So I wanted to educate myself. But I hope it opens people’s eyes to what’s going on. I really hope that I didn't put all of my family through that for nothing! We certainly learned as a family, the four of us really learned, but the aim is to do something absolutely wacky to get everyone's attention and to go, "Look this is actually serious. This is what we're throwing away each day. We need to be aware; we need to change."
Do you think more needs to be done?
I don’t think there's enough information coming from the top, the Government, and also guidance. But also, the supermarkets, there’s still quite a lot of packaging that is a bit misleading of what actually can be recycled and what's not recyclable, so I very much wanted to be educated and thought the show did just that.
If you could sit down with Boris Johnson, what would you say to him?
It's a very good question. I suppose the most important thing is getting everyone sitting down at the Climate Change Conference because this needs to be a massive worldwide effort. There are these mass polluters, countries that pollute the most have got to be on board. And so I would be saying, number one, we've really got to put the squeeze on those countries. We've really got to. I would also like to have more education out there for us to clearly understand when we go into a supermarket what we can recycle and what we can’t, so we can make better choices rather than having to trawl through internet websites to find out which bin goes where, because we all live crazy fast lives and have so many things going on. I think that the guidance needs to be much easier to follow and accessible. But also the big changes need to come from the supermarket chains, the big corporations and meat companies. Everyone needs to play their part if we want to make real change.
Celebrity Trash Monsters: What's Your Waste Size? airs on Sunday at 9pm on Channel 4.