THIS IS MARIE.

She could spill most of my secrets, I’ve known her since we were kids, but she won’t, and that’s just one of many reasons I love her. Another is her unwavering commitment to following her passions and sharing her gifts with the world – and that’s the focus of this interview. Get ready to hear about sustainable living, maintaining a love for life, founding a charity in your twenties, and most importantly, the advantages of a horse-sized duck!

Marie, I’m going to dive right in, apart from your alarm and a cup of coffee, what is it that gets you up in the morning?

My daughter who’s sitting beside me says ‘me’ and she’s right! My family’s a big reason for getting up in the morning. But the other thing that motivates me is the thought of making a difference in the world, whether that’s through my paid job (Marie works as a fundraiser for a charity helping people with disabilities to create a more inclusive world) or the things I do in my spare time like trying to live sustainably and being a trustee for The SEED Project.

Yes! Let’s talk about The SEED Project. This is a charity that helps Zimbabwean communities out of poverty and you and your Zimbabwean husband founded it in your twenties. How did that all come about? It feels like a big deal.

It was, but it didn’t feel like it at the time, mainly because we had no idea what it would all involve, and I’m grateful for that, or it might have put us off! We were young, adventurous and passionate with a really strong belief in what we were doing. And I think that’s the key – it’s amazing how many obstacles you can overcome with that kind of conviction. But we were also lucky in that we had a lot of help from family, friends and volunteers, both in Zimbabwe and in the UK.

Had you always wanted to work in the charity sector? Was it something you thought about as a child?

Not in a paid capacity. At school and university I followed my interests, rather than any career plan. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living. But I’d been fundraising and volunteering for charities since I was a child so I’m really glad I’ve been able to make a career of it.

You’re really committed to using your gifts in a way that benefits our collective wellbeing. Is this connected to your passion for sustainable living?

Definitely. We’ve only got one planet and if we don’t change how we’re living it’s going to be disastrous. I think it can be hard to see the effects of climate change in high income countries – at least for the moment – but in Africa it’s pretty easy to see how increasingly erratic weather patterns affect people. When your livelihood depends on what comes out of the ground and then fails for that year – that’s catastrophic.

What earth-friendly lifestyle changes have you made over the years?

It might be my personality but I feel like I’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg of what I can do. That said recycling and waste reduction are big ones for me and always have been. I hate waste and hold onto items for ages in the hope they can be reused – they nearly always can be! I’m lucky enough to live in Cambridge so I can cycle to get around, and I car-pool with colleagues to get to work out of town. I source my energy from suppliers that invest in renewable energy, and I vote for the parties and politicians most committed to addressing social and environmental causes. I’m making more effort to sign petitions and campaign for greener policies too.

What advice would you give someone wanting to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle?

Just start somewhere. It’s easy to think you’re not going to make enough of a difference, but it really is true that every little helps. And also, when you start off with what’s doable for you in your particular situation, you’ll be more likely to succeed, which will make you feel good, spurring you on to do more. I recently swapped my toilet paper and toothpaste to more eco-friendly alternatives and just the act of placing the order lifted my mood. It was even better when the items arrived!

The other thing I’d say is don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Yes, a bamboo toothbrush isn’t perfect – it might have nylon bristles – but it’s still much better than one with a plastic handle. Same with meat – if you don’t think you can cut it out completely, start with something like Meat Free Monday. Reduction is always going to be better than no change at all.

How do you avoid burn out and maintain a love for life?

Taking care of myself and doing stuff I enjoy is really important. One of my favourite activities is singing. I’m a member of a community choir which I love. The music is really uplifting and it’s great for socialising too so it ticks all the boxes! Getting out into nature is also a priority for me, as is making sure I’m spending quality time with friends.

And finally, courtesy of my kids, would you rather be chased by a hundred duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

Ooh definitely one horse sized duck.

Wow! That was a fast response! Why do you say that?

A large waddling duck would move pretty slowly so I reckon I could outrun it. Failing that I could squeeze through a gap he or she couldn’t get through!

Well I definitely can’t argue with that! Thanks, Marie 👍

Find out more about The SEED Project at www.seed-project.org.

THIS IS MARIE.

She could spill most of my secrets, I’ve known her since we were kids, but she won’t, and that’s just one of many reasons I love her. Another is her unwavering commitment to following her passions and sharing her gifts with the world – and that’s the focus of this interview. Get ready to hear about sustainable living, maintaining a love for life, founding a charity in your twenties, and most importantly, the advantages of a horse-sized duck!

Marie, I’m going to dive right in, apart from your alarm and a cup of coffee, what is it that gets you up in the morning?

My daughter who’s sitting beside me says ‘me’ and she’s right! My family’s a big reason for getting up in the morning. But the other thing that motivates me is the thought of making a difference in the world, whether that’s through my paid job (Marie works as a fundraiser for a charity helping people with disabilities to create a more inclusive world) or the things I do in my spare time like trying to live sustainably and being a trustee for The SEED Project.

Yes! Let’s talk about The SEED Project. This is a charity that helps Zimbabwean communities out of poverty and you and your Zimbabwean husband founded it in your twenties. How did that all come about? It feels like a big deal.

It was, but it didn’t feel like it at the time, mainly because we had no idea what it would all involve, and I’m grateful for that, or it might have put us off! We were young, adventurous and passionate with a really strong belief in what we were doing. And I think that’s the key – it’s amazing how many obstacles you can overcome with that kind of conviction. But we were also lucky in that we had a lot of help from family, friends and volunteers, both in Zimbabwe and in the UK.

Had you always wanted to work in the charity sector? Was it something you thought about as a child?

Not in a paid capacity. At school and university I followed my interests, rather than any career plan. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living. But I’d been fundraising and volunteering for charities since I was a child so I’m really glad I’ve been able to make a career of it.

You’re really committed to using your gifts in a way that benefits our collective wellbeing. Is this connected to your passion for sustainable living?

Definitely. We’ve only got one planet and if we don’t change how we’re living it’s going to be disastrous. I think it can be hard to see the effects of climate change in high income countries – at least for the moment – but in Africa it’s pretty easy to see how increasingly erratic weather patterns affect people. When your livelihood depends on what comes out of the ground and then fails for that year – that’s catastrophic.

What earth-friendly lifestyle changes have you made over the years?

It might be my personality but I feel like I’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg of what I can do. That said recycling and waste reduction are big ones for me and always have been. I hate waste and hold onto items for ages in the hope they can be reused – they nearly always can be! I’m lucky enough to live in Cambridge so I can cycle to get around, and I car-pool with colleagues to get to work out of town. I source my energy from suppliers that invest in renewable energy, and I vote for the parties and politicians most committed to addressing social and environmental causes. I’m making more effort to sign petitions and campaign for greener policies too.

What advice would you give someone wanting to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle?

Just start somewhere. It’s easy to think you’re not going to make enough of a difference, but it really is true that every little helps. And also, when you start off with what’s doable for you in your particular situation, you’ll be more likely to succeed, which will make you feel good, spurring you on to do more. I recently swapped my toilet paper and toothpaste to more eco-friendly alternatives and just the act of placing the order lifted my mood. It was even better when the items arrived!

The other thing I’d say is don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Yes, a bamboo toothbrush isn’t perfect – it might have nylon bristles – but it’s still much better than one with a plastic handle. Same with meat – if you don’t think you can cut it out completely, start with something like Meat Free Monday. Reduction is always going to be better than no change at all.

How do you avoid burn out and maintain a love for life?

Taking care of myself and doing stuff I enjoy is really important. One of my favourite activities is singing. I’m a member of a community choir which I love. The music is really uplifting and it’s great for socialising too so it ticks all the boxes! Getting out into nature is also a priority for me, as is making sure I’m spending quality time with friends.

And finally, courtesy of my kids, would you rather be chased by a hundred duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

Ooh definitely one horse sized duck.

Wow! That was a fast response! Why do you say that?

A large waddling duck would move pretty slowly so I reckon I could outrun it. Failing that I could squeeze through a gap he or she couldn’t get through!

Well I definitely can’t argue with that! Thanks, Marie 👍

Find out more about The SEED Project at www.seed-project.org.