Meet Lynne Lambourne – Designer, Sustainability Ambassador and founder of Warriors on Waste. Lynne joined Virtual Voyage Fiji in 2021 and is passionate about connecting people and companies to make being sustainable an easy option. We caught up with her to discover what she’s been up to!

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a Designer and Sustainability Ambassador for brands. I help companies form the purpose and story behind their sustainable mission.

How would you describe your superpower?

I’m a connector, and get more people involved! Instead of ‘networking’, I describe this as forming friendships and alliances to have more impact. If we want the world to become sustainable, we need to help each other and collaborate. We rise by lifting others.

How did you first hear about eXXpedition?

After seeing what amazing things Emily was doing via social media, I wanted to get involved and experience it firsthand. I was talking to schools about plastic pollution, ocean health and microplastics, but hadn’t witnessed it myself. When the opportunity arose, I applied straight away.

What were you doing before?

My grandmother was thrifty and creative, so I was brought up with that mentality.

I upcycled secondhand furniture, and filled my home with foraged flowers and food. I was the person that would turn up at dinner parties with flowers I’d picked on my walk or a sack of potatoes I grew myself.

I won Grand Designs Live using materials found in a skip, recycled, upcycled or foraged – it was all free! The judges were blown away and thought it was brilliant. Then I became known as this ‘Sustainable Designer’ whereas I had felt like just the person with no budget!

“I wanted to break free from consumerism. We are brainwashed day in and day out by consumerism, and that has led to this huge pollution problem.”

What was the most surprising thing you learnt during your Virtual Voyage?

Aside from being (virtually) surrounded by inspiring women, learning and understanding the impact of plastic on the other side of the world was invaluable.

The thing that really struck me was the fact that we were actually having these conversations with people in Fiji! We thought the solutions would be simple: set up a recycling point, don’t sell plastic. After talking to them we began to understand the reasons why they need to buy a cheap bucket for example, so that they can carry water in it. Before the Western world interfered they used natural resources. It made me realise that there is no easy fix. Once you unleash the easier, cheaper and more accessible option you can’t just put that genie back in the bottle. There is such a huge disconnect between what we put in our shops and where it goes after.

How has the experience influenced your work since?

I’ve been learning more about post consumer plastic and manufacturing plastic, especially in relation to my brand collaborations and design work. I’ve noticed that many will say it’s made from recycled plastic, but it tends to not actually be post consumer waste, more like factory off cuts – which is still good but doesn’t address the issue of plastic in the environment. 

As an ambassador for Gardena, a garden tool company, we worked together to launch an eco-line range made from recycled plastics which was released during the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This year we introduced the first ever totally recyclable hose made from recycled material! My role with Gardena has been to guide them, help them with ideas and tell their story. It has been rewarding and it would be amazing if other companies could make impactful changes like this.

You founded ‘Warriors on Waste’. Can you share what that’s about and how it came to be?

In 2009 I created ‘Warriors on Waste’. It is my way of sharing what I learnt and creating a tribe of people who care. We teach people to take care of the planet and encourage them to get out there and give it a go. We wear camo boiler suits, do river cleans, upcycle furniture or give things a second lease of life. It’s all quite crafty but a lot of fun. Wearing camo is optional, caring is mandatory.

I started going into schools with it and ended up calling it my ‘Saving Nemo Tour’ because I thought that would resonate with kids and that they would understand why we are doing it. I started to have more people join the tribe too and it continued to grow from there! Now we have a website where you can find out what events are in your area and tips to help you live more sustainably. 

“…any good business will understand that they need to change not just for the planet’s longevity but for theirs too.”

What has your experience been like when trying to introduce sustainability into the world of design? 

These days I’m typically met with a very positive attitude. After the voyage, I studied Sustainable Business at the University of Cambridge and I feel like now people know I know my stuff!

When I face resistance, I explain that if businesses don’t change, their customers won’t stay. People want to buy things that are aligned with their values. I would say, any good business will understand that they need to change not just for the planet’s longevity but for theirs too. It’s their responsibility to make the changes now and be part of this big community of change. 

Can you tell us more about collaborating with Gardena? 

I’m their Sustainability Ambassador. We encourage people to rethink outside spaces and become more sustainable in their garden, and lifestyle too. I feature on their Youtube channel and release monthly episodes covering subjects from water harvesting to fun family activities.

“You can’t finger-point or lecture because no one’s perfect. Sustainability is rarely perfect but we have to try.”

Having the opportunity to tell their story, make connections and celebrate how we are working hard towards our goals is amazing! It’s about educating our consumer to be able to make more sustainable choices, help them rethink their lifestyle for the greater good of the planet. You can’t finger-point or lecture because no one’s perfect. Sustainability is rarely perfect but we have to try.

What are you up to on the Isle of Skye?

I’m helping clear beaches that are so remote, you have to walk two hours to them. They are knee deep in rope, surrounded by barrels of oil and abandoned fishing gear. While I can document it on my youtube social media channel, it’s hard to access to remove it, so I’m seeking sponsors to buy a boat.

I would say the fishing industry has been unconsciously responsible for the situation. To me, this problem represents a huge disconnect because those people whose livelihoods depend on the ocean for fishing also need to take care of it.

Although it’s out of sight, it’s wrong on every level. We can’t allow this on our doorstep. 

What are your plans going forward?

I love using panel discussions and workshops to connect and inspire. I want to write a book putting across the way I view the world and give others permission to give sustainability a go!

You can’t make anyone want to save the planet if they don’t love nature in the first place.”

Being sustainable can make you happy because you value what you have: sharing nature, walking on a beach, trying out foraging – it’s all the good stuff! You can’t make anyone want to save the planet if they don’t love nature in the first place. Getting people back into that mindset and immersing themselves in nature will naturally make them care. I know it made me view the world differently and I’m so much happier for it.

What keeps you hopeful about the future of the ocean?

I meet many inspiring people and children making change, which gives me hope every day. There are millions of people out there innovating, working hard and spreading awareness.

What is your message to the world?

Slow down, buy less and find joy in the simple things.