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I was lost for words and totally chuffed to pieces this morning when I went to have a peek at my interview for online magazine amia. Editor Jan totally had the element of surprise when I realised that I was Woman of the Month – Totally blown away and honored. Thank You to Jan and all the team at amia for this great recognition. It is sometimes really hard when you are sitting in front of a computer all alone, trying to get your thoughts into action.  All the blood, sweat and tears that go into my work can sometimes feel to be in vein – because of the fact that I rarely meet the people I have an effect on it is difficult to see the change or the appreciation for my work. This major appreciation and recognition couldn’t have come at a better time! It is also like a very early birthday present as May is my birthday month and also one of my favourite months – so what better issue to be Woman of the month than May 🙂

amia magazine is a great read with lots of powerful stories that will inspire you, lots of fun things to do and healthy alternatives. The best thing is it is online so no magazine waste, but it is jam-packed with great reading!

THE MAY 2013 ISSUE:

WOMAN OF THE MONTH.

Each month we will profile “unsung heroes” – the kind of women who inspire others around them without realising it. Often, we will go “undercover” to do this as the women we profile will probably not see themselves as heroes. This is our chance to let them know they are.

Claire Lewis is a wife, mum, author and nature lover. She started Claire Lewis Co. to inspire people to connect more with the world in which they live. She set up the Less is More Challenge to coincide with Earth Day (22nd April) 2013 and to inspire people to think a little differently about their use of resources on that day and subsequently. Claire lives in Dublin and says that she was “born an earth scientist and will die an earth scientist” and that her goal is be one who has made a little difference

  • Tell us a little bit about your life, lifestyle and interests……

“Going forward, I know that the earth, the environment and living in an environmentally responsible way will become more and more important. Teaching (rather than preaching to) people is why I started the Claire Lewis Company – Making it Cool To Care About the Environment.  This is all about giving tips on how to start making small changes, plus ideas to reuse things and DIY projects to get you on your “Green Path”.

“My life is pretty hectic. I am married with a three year old daughter and two dogs. As well as doing my own work, I also work part time in an events company. My main focus in my life is on implementing ways I can make a difference, whilst educating my daughter too. Children follow your lead and I am hoping that she will develop this mentality of doing things with the earth in mind.”

  • Tell us about the Less is More Challenge and where the idea came from?

The Less Is More Challenge was born out of a blog post that I wrote on March 30th   (https://clairelewisco.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/less-is-more/) I was trying to stir up people’s thinking – to prompt them to think, “How did we get into the situation we have found ourselves in?”

The LESS IS MORE CHALLENGE asks people taking part to do as many of the following as possible:

1. Pack a lunch for work.

2. Use a reusable bottle for your water – Bobble Bottles are great for filtering as you go and are offering a discount during Earth Month.

3. Do not purchase Clothing for one day. But if you have to try and only purchase clothing that give back and make an effort to tackle environmental issues in the production of the product. I don’t think in one day you will in counter a fashion emergency!!

4. Swap a Chemical Based home cleaning product for an ECO alternative, two of my favourite companies are Lilly’s Eco Clean & Ecover.

5. Discover Terracycle and the ways you can help to “Eliminate the Idea of Waste”!

6. Buy local organic produce or pre think your shop for the week to reduce food waste.

7. Plant a Tree and/or a plant that native bee’s like.

8. Cycle to work or take public transport.

9. Watch the film HOME & film Trashed.

10. Just open your mind for one day to the little things you can do to instil change in our world globally.

“Knowing that Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd every year I worked towards setting a challenge that everyone could participate in. I love psychology and part of the challenge for me was trying to impact on every-day people, like my husband, who on a regular day wouldn’t stop to think about the earth, environment, climate change or their own role in all of these issues. So I devised the challenge to contain 10 suggestions that would have a positive impact on the environment – but would also be easily completed by those who took the challenge. I have learned that people will change and listen to what you have to say once you do it in a positive way. If you start preaching about all the negative stuff in the world, this will help no-one and will overwhelm people. This could impact on my drive and the cause would be doomed.”

“It is important to keep positive and strive towards each individual having a positive view of their environment, keeping informed and taking an active role in improving things. Hopefully, one day this will lead to a neutral or positive impact on the earth!”

  • What were the main things you are hoping to achieve through the challenge?

“I set out with the view that if I had a positive impact on just one person that would be fantastic! Earth Day occurs once a year and if this one person took on the challenge and succeeded then maybe they might keep up one or two of the suggestions all year. Then when the Less Is More Challenge links to Earth Day 2014, who knows what that person will do to challenge themselves for the next year? For some people, it is a baby step process. There are others (like me) who were born with the switch firmly on, in the quest for the “perfect world” where people have a positive impact instead of all the currently negative ones.”

  • What do you think the main successes have been so far?

“Well, I can safely say I have beaten my quota of one person – I have over 420 people taking the challenge via Facebook. The special thing for me is that I set the whole thing up three weeks before Earth Day and the response was amazing and speedy. I even had a school – Coachford College in Co. Cork, Ireland totally embrace the challenge. They even planted a tree in my challenge’s honour. The success was so great that I am building on creating an awareness so that The Less Is More Challenge can be actively completed every day and not just for Earth Day. I would like Earth Day to be more of a celebration of actively participating the whole year round! Imagine that! If my dream came true for this, it would be amazing.”

“I have also set up The Less Is More Schools Challenge, which has slightly different challenge suggestions. More tailored to the student lifestyle and environment. Students are always eager to learn ways that they can make a difference and this challenge is a great way for even one interested class to get the whole school involved.”

“Another great success for me was the eager involvement of big green brands, as I call them. Brands like Ecover, TerraCycle, Lilly’s Eco Clean and the film Trashed (starring Jeremy Irons) were all very supportive and eager to lend themselves, their products and their brands to get on board and create an awareness of The Less Is More Challenge.”

  • How do you think more people can get involved in doing things that can make a positive difference to the world?

“To anyone looking to know “Where do I start?” I would say – go online and get searching for blogs, and companies to give you pointers about how to get involved. If people do not actively think about the earth, they will have no idea about all the debates, the hot topics and ideas, how to make changes, etcetera. My company (Claire Lewis Co) is just one example of the type of company I am talking about – I set it up with the view of ‘Making it Cool to Care About the Environment.” I I blog regularly about a whole lot of ways to help you start to personally make a change. I believe that it is not necessarily people’s fault if they do not actively think about the environment on a daily basis – it should be a learned behaviour so should be taught in schools and encouraged by governments and employers.”

“Just like brushing your teeth, 99.9% of people do this on twice a day because we were taught to do so when young to keep our teeth in good condition. Well let’s start teaching that the earth is like our teeth  – we need to care for it at least twice a day!”

  • What are some of the main things that you think can get in the way of this?

“I find that most people do care about the welfare of the earth and the environment – they just have not learned that their own active involvement means a lot. Similar to my tooth brushing example, we just need to recondition people’s mind-sets and things will change. More people will begin to ask questions and demand answers. For example, we are all brain- washed by large multinationals who for years have marketed products in such a way that allowed them to become market dominant brands. These brands may not have very good environmental practices or be good for the consumers. What we need are consumers who will go to the till and ask questions, such as: –

“How is this manufactured?”

“How am I supposed to know what these ingredients when I am not a scientist?”

“How are your employees treated when they make this product?”

“Why do you use toxic chemicals and how do you dispose of them?”

“People are busy – sometimes governments need to manage what companies are selling. We need to a greater emphasis on greener products and services and this must be government led.”

  • Which people have inspired you to want to make a difference?

“The main people to inspire me are Ecopreneur & TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky; Virgin boss Richard Branson and of course my husband Daniel Lewis! These guys are super positive and have “can do” attitudes – they are also not afraid of failing. I also just have this overwhelming urge to follow my passion which concerns all things to do with the Earth!”

  • What do you say to those people who say, “It’s too late” or “What difference can I make?”

“I would tell them my snowflake story and let them make up their own minds:

Each tiny snowflake is as individual as you are – beautiful, intricate designs as unique as your finger prints. Some are smaller than others and some bigger.  Collectively the snowflakes fall from the sky and can cover continents. But imagine if each tiny snowflake said, “Oh no, I can’t fall from the sky – I am so tiny that I will not make a difference?”

  • Where do you get your own drive from to keep your quest going?

“I think it’s a combination of traits. I come from a working class family – my dad worked and my mum stayed at home and was very environmentally friendly without even knowing it. I learned a lot from her and she is also an incredibly hard working person. My dad was very good with his hands and he was always in his shed, working and maintaining things. He was also the one who nurtured my love for animals. We always had a dog and he even bought us chickens, which I was in charge of – of course!”

There was always a huge emphasis on education in my home and we were encouraged to do what we enjoyed in college. I loved school but I really, really had to work my little cotton socks off and for that I am very pleased. This gave me my steely determination and dedication – without this trait I think success would be difficult.”

  • What are your hopes for the future?

“Where do I start? I have so many! My main area of focus is on writing children’s books. I want to be a successful children’s author, planting tiny little seeds in children’s minds and growing into full on love affairs with the earth and environment around them.  I know I have plenty of material for this task – it’s all running around in my head just waiting to explode. I am just waiting for my first book ‘The Soother Cycle’ to be released so I can see where this takes me.”

“I want to grow The Less Is More Challenge into a very successful awareness campaign that gets results worldwide. I also want to focus on getting into schools as this is a major area where we can improve the level of practical knowledge our young students have to go out into the world and so they know what steps they can take to make their lives more environmentally responsible.”

“I have just undertaken the Live Below The Line Challenge where I will need to live on €1.19 for 5 days and within that budget, cover all my eating and drinking costs!!  I think I may be the only person in Ireland doing this challenge and I love getting people to think, “Wow, I wonder what that is and could I give it a go?”

“There are a few other projects that I am working on at the moment that all centre around getting people involved in living environmentally responsibly and having a positive affect on the earth. So keep tuned in and follow my blog for more J”

Blog:

https://clairelewisco.wordpress.com/

Email me: claire@clairelewis.ie