From coffee cups and straws to toothbrushes and cotton buds - our lives are awash with throw-away convenience products.

Natasha Ray’s passion for zero waste has led to the creation of her own company, &Keep, which promotes the same eco-friendly, sustainable message.

Her journey began in 2010 when she and husband John decided to "jack in" their IT-related jobs and travel around Europe in a van for seven months.

"That made us realise we could live with less," she remembers.

"We became aware of all the damage that plastic was doing and we looked at our house and thought 'how have we managed to fill it?'"

On their return, Natasha and John were keen to set up a small business such as a campsite or cafe.

"Life ended up pulling John back into the IT world, and we had children, but there was still that urge to set something up," says Natasha.

Last November, the couple, who live in Broadstone, began to look at selling various re-usable alternatives to everyday, throw away products, and &Keep was born.

"We thought we would just see where it went," she explains.

"I had a very strict criteria of people that we could buy from - they had to be ethical. We wanted to go for little designers, potentially UK-based, people who were in the Fair Trade movement - employing people in other countries but making sure they had pensions etc.

"We first came up with the name Castle & Keep, but an agency helped us to narrow it down to &Keep - the idea is that you're trying to keep these things forever or use them mindfully."

The company was launched in March this year and already has 850,000 followers on Facebook, and a stash of around 300 different products stored in the couple's garage-come-stockroom.

"All the eco friendly stuff is super popular," says Natasha.

"We have beeswax wrap instead of cling film; stainless steel food containers; reusable coffee cups; steel straws with a silicone tip; bamboo toothbrushes and lunchboxes made out of rice husk, which are 100 per cent biodegradable.

"We have some stuff for every room in the house, plus some outside stuff and Christmas decorations."

Natasha and John are thrilled with the success of &Keep but, for Natasha, it's about more than just a job.

"It's very much a throw-away culture these days," she explains.

"I joined lots of zero waste websites and the two-minute beach clean movement and I've really built up a good following now of people that are like-minded. It's been really nice now to have that interaction with plastic-free, zero wasters and listen to what they want.

"A couple of months after we launched I get involved in a screening of a film called The Plastic Ocean, produced by Jo Ruxton, who does the Blue Planet. I co-sponsored that at Queen Elizabeth School in Wimborne and everyone swamped my stall."

Natasha was a finalist in the Venus finals for Business Mother of the Year, has done some presentations to local business women's groups and has got herself onto the WI's list of speakers with her talk on plastic pollution.

"Once you know it, you can't un-know it," she says.

"It really changes everything in your life. It's been really nice converting people as well - going round to people and talking about it. If you've opened one person's eyes in ten and they just change their toothbrush, I feel like that's so rewarding that we've just made one little change.

"Sometimes there are no choices out there, but it's the simple things."