Paula is a Finnish photographer and blogger, who lives and works in France. Her creative work has had a focus on ecological issues for many years, and establishing a company Vadelmacreations in May last year was a logical move. The Vadelmacreations integrates zero waste approach to produce ecological and artisanal textile products, all washable and reusable, in our daily lives, e.g. reusable hanckerchiefs, kitchen cloths, face pads, baby wipes, shopping bags, etc. Also, the fabric used for the confection is upcycled or recycled, and the hygienic and baby products are made with organic fabric and/or Oeko-Tex certified.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, it is a process, and one has to start with something. But one might feel overwhelmed about where and how to start a zero waste lifestyle.
Paula shares some of her thoughts on zero waste lifestyle.
Paula, how do you define yourself?
I am a creator. I like to find solutions, discover and search. I am also a manual person, I like to make things with my hands. About one year ago I found sewing again. I work for my company right now. I am also studying industrial sewing (35 hours per week). The studies are intense and exigent. Almost all textile industry in France (North West) is for luxury brands. We have to be very pedantic because our potential work is seen in sewing luxury products. My plan is to continue and develop the Vadelmacreations (Reusable, beautiful and useful!). I will graduate this summer and then the Vadelmacreations will be my full-time job.
What were your reasons being establishing the brand?
When I started to focus to zero waste life, I did not find cloth bags for buing bulk products. So I took my old sawing machine and I bought old curtains and started to make the bag I wanted. After I found that I can’t find nice kitchen cloths and handkerchiefs, I made them also. While I was sewing, I liked it so much that I wanted to make more and more. I was in maternity leave at that time and I was searching my place and work in France (where I moved 2 years ago). With this brand I feel that all pieces match perfectly together. I can do what I love, my work is versatile and I am learning so much. Only sky is the limit! The most important thing is that my work aligns with my values – this is so motivating!
What is the most important thing for you while running the Vadelmacreations?
The most important thing is to work for myself and develop my company according to my values. When I am working for Vadelmareations, I don’t actually feel that I am working. With my company I can make the business as ethical and enviromental friendly as I can.
Sustainable may not be ethical, vegan or similar. How would you comment on that?
Yes, that’s true. Ethical values are as important as environmental values. Unfortunately, one single product does not often carry all these values. Sometimes compromises are needed. I saw this problem while creating my company. I am creating substainable products from subtainable materials. Yet, I know, that sometimes it can be impossible, because it comes too expensive.
There is an understanding that ethical products are mainly for a privileged audience as they can afford to pay for that type of product. How do you see the market? How can you get people who have never had any interest in vegan/eco/sustainable products to buy these type of products?
Yes, it can be true that some products like food, clothes, etc are more expensive when buying more sustainable or healthier options. But we can be ecological with a low budget too. For example: 1) buying second hand goods, 2) buying only what is necessary, 3) using reusable products, 4) avoiding a thrown out food. The most ecological is minimising shopping – that’s does not cost anything. I feel that ecological lifestyle is often less expensive.
What has been the biggest challenge of living zero waste lifestyle? What was the easiest and least complicated?
Easiest is a bathroom. I don’t use much cosmetics products, and those what I use, I can buy without package. The most complicated thing is with some grocery products, for example milk and yoghurt, and sometimes fast food (when no time to cook). It gets very difficult when you yourself and family members are sick – then I buy some food in plastic packaging containers etc.
Tori Telfer, an American writer, has said: “The zero waste lifestyle is a radical one, a stunning contrast to our deep-seated cultural convictions that everything should be convenient.” How would you comment on that?
I totally agree! Our lives seems to be easier and faster, because of the technology we have. But at the same time we have to work a lot in order to buy all the stuff. I have been thinking about and sometimes also calculating if some gadgets are worth buying. Usually not! It takes a lot of time to understand a gadget, to use it, clean it, repair it and then, in the end to resell it or dispose. It can take more time to make homemade French fries – if you do not have time, buy industrial ones. But homemade fries taste so much better. For me zero waste life means good food and less stressfull moments.