A regular attendee at the Green Recovery Action Network, Catherine Tuckwell joined the group when it formed during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

“It was a no-brainer to join and meet eco-conscious business owners who are striving to tackle the climate crisis even through the challenges of a worldwide pandemic, which has created more issues,” Catherine explained, “so, for me, the real value is having a safe space to talk about the climate crisis, while also being inspired by what others are doing.

“It can be hard to remain optimistic when large companies and governments seem to be taking one step forward and two steps back but hearing everyone’s successes and achievements remind me that there is still hope.”

Catherine started her business, Catherine Tuckwell Photography, to help business owners to be more confident in showing up as themselves, and to tell their own stories behind their businesses. “I enable them to nurture their audience, sustain their brand, and conserve their time on social media,” she said, “and I help them to create a library of custom images that tell their story and connect with their ideal clients, while encouraging them to become more visible online.

“I know it can be very frightening for a lot of people to get in front of a camera. Two years ago, that was me. I wouldn’t dare show my face on the internet but it’s so important to let people see the face behind a business, especially when customers are becoming more aware of buying local and buying sustainably.”

Catherine is addressing the climate crisis by taking action personally and through her business. She said: “I went vegan in January 2018, I’ve turned to eBay for second-hand clothes, and try to buy as much plastic-free food as possible. A refill shop opened a twenty-minute drive from my home about two years ago, so that has been a big help.

“In my business, I buy white-box, second-hand or refurbished wherever possible and all my documentation is digital, as are my clients’ photo transfers. I’ve recently signed up with Ecologi, and I plant trees for every client who books a session with me.

“I’ve moved away from feeling that I need X, Y and Z to be a “proper” photographer or business owner and business cards, USB sticks and promotional items have all fallen by the wayside. It’s important to me to support small, locally owned businesses, even if it is a bit more expensive. I’ve got into the habit of looking within my network for solutions, or UK sellers on Etsy instead of the big conglomerate companies.”

Next up, Catherine is planning to become more aware of her electrical and energy usage and investigate ethical banking.

Catherine’s advice when tacking climate action is to start small. “You don’t have to do everything at once. It can be as simple as using a refillable water bottle instead of buying multi-packs in the supermarket. Buy loose fruit and veg or walk instead of taking the car.

“Also, make it fun! Link it to a hobby or project you enjoy. If you like cooking and baking, can you use plastic-free or seasonal ingredients? Maybe your daily walk is blighted by litter, so put just one thing in a bin and have the hand-sanitiser ready to deploy afterwards!”

More importantly, Catherine believes questioning everything. She said: “Ask what’s this made of? Is it a genuinely sustainable product, or is it just greenwashing? What is it packaged in? Am I buying this “just because”, or do I already have something else that does the job?”

She concluded: “If more people began to ask, “what happens to this item at the end of its life?”, I think we’d be in a much better place than we are now. Just one small change can have a big impact.”