Meet Louisa, co-founder of planet saving beer, Toast Ale

I'm Louisa, the Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Toast Ale. We brew our planet-saving beer with surplus fresh bread and all our profits go to charities fixing the food system.

I live in Walthamstow with my hubby and two kids. It's a great place to feel connected to the buzz of the city and the nature of Epping Forest, and there's a really wonderful sense of community.

What does home mean to you?

It's a place of belonging, somewhere I can always come back to, to relax and re-energise. It took me a long time to feel that London was my home. I'm originally from Southport in the North West and would always talk about 'going home' when I went there. But I've been down here for over 20 years now and having my own family has really made me feel rooted.

What do you do? What made you end up in the career you have?

I've always had a deep connection to the natural world, but we struggled financially when I was young so I pursued a more traditional 'secure' career in financial services. As I became aware of climate change in the early 2000s, I felt a need for my work to contribute to positive solutions. I completed an Environmental Science Masters then worked as carbon footprinting consultant for many years, before setting up Toast.

What is the one luxury that money can’t buy?

Time. Running a start-up whilst also raising two young kids makes you feel like you're don't give enough time to either, whilst never giving time to yourself. I have to force myself to switch off by busying myself with other projects. I'm a keen gardener and love nothing more than spending the day digging in the earth. I've created a space for nature and spend a lot of time watching the bees, birds, frogs and foxes. It's so rewarding and good for mental health.

What is the one smell that triggers a memory - what is that memory?

Pine trees remind me of the coast where I grew up. It brings back memories of the sun in my face, the lung-filling fresh air and the huge open skies as you emerge from the forest and climb one of the sandy dunes.

What plastic-free initiatives have you gotten behind?

At home we've been trying to avoid single use plastic by buying from re-use schemes. I'm a member of Good Club who recently launched a range of refil products plus we have some great local shops with refill stations. Similarly at Toast we have been working with partners to encourage people to reuse containers - from Waitrose's Unpacked stores to my local Draught Drop, a subscription-based draught beer service.


A must go holiday spot..

I try to avoid flying (I've taken 3 flights in the past ten years for work and a friend's wedding) so we've done a lot of incredible overland trips in Europe and the UK. One of my favourite destinations is Scotland, including a trip to the Outer Hebrides in 2019. Even the boat trip to the islands was an amazing experience, watching the dolphins and whales breach in the water alongside us. The landscapes are breathtaking