We speak to Kate of ‘My plastic free home’ about living life as an eco-influencer.

Maternity leave is usually a time of unparalleled joy,  where you begin to drop the stresses of the projects that you are working on, in preparation for looking after a new baby. Not for Kate, better known online as my_plastic_free_home who, during her maternity leave, launched an Instagram account where she documents her eco-friendly habits as a hobby. In just under a year, she has amassed over 33,000 followers and a micro-influencer status.

Kate never set out to become an instagram influencer. She was just indulging in her passion and love for the environment, at first. 

“It was just something that I was interested in,” says Kate, who was spurred on to create her account after the reality of having a baby hit. “Having her and the waste that came with having a baby was just quite overwhelming so I started really thinking about what I could do to give back a little bit. Obviously I had a lot of time on my hands going on maternity leave from a full time job so that’s why I decided to start my page.”

In the beginning, Kate used her Instagram account to highlight her favourite sustainable home products and now, her page has evolved and covers plant-based cooking, brand collaborations and raising awareness of world issues. Her brand however, has remained solely on Instagram, unusually choosing not to expand into the myriad of social media sites that populate our online world today. “I’m not much of a social media user, I’ve not got Facebook, I don’t really go on YouTube, but Instagram is somewhere that I’ve shared pictures with my family, so it just felt quite familiar that I used naturally.” 

While her instagram handle is ‘my_plastic_ free_home’, Kate is nonetheless adamant that cutting out every single piece of plastic is not a feasible way to live. “Sometimes people take it quite literally and they analyse the plastic that I’m using, but I think it’s important to be realistic. Plastic is everywhere and plastic can be quite useful in your life.” Kate demonstrates that you can still utilise plastic and be eco-conscious by buying second hand or looking into recycled plastic. “A lot of toys are plastic and they’re plastic for a reason because it’s safer, so things like that I’ll source that second hand so that I’m not buying new products. I also think it’s important to support companies that are trying to do something with recycled plastics and ocean plastic as well.”

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S I M P L E • S W A P S 🌱 #gifted 💚 I’m getting back to basics with this little post- this was our first swap when we started trying to reduce plastic in the house. Id love to know what was yours? Of course for me it wasn’t as simple of swapping one for another (nothing ever seems to be in my house!) I was always an electric toothbrush kinda person and i’m not about to throw that away because I don’t want to use plastic anymore. So I found a way to try and be more eco with my toothbrush habits. I use my bamboo toothbrush most days now and use my electric toothbrush on those days where I feel like my teeth need a ‘deep clean’. That way I don’t need to replace the heads on my electric toothbrushes anywhere near as often! I love this toothbrush (not just because it’s environmentally friendly) but also because the bristles come in soft and medium. I was kindly sent this from @boobalou which is my go to shop to top up my essentials and really affordable too! Have you made any compromises with your mission to reduce your plastic? Remember it’s more about the progress, less about the perfection 💚 #myplasticfreehome

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Buying anything second hand, not just plastic, is one of Kate’s top tips in helping the environment. “I think it is important to really think about the product that you need and whether if it’s just because you want them that you’re buying them. It’s good to give those purchases I think because I think as a society we’re really into fast buying. If we think we need something we buy it that day without really giving some thought into why you need it”. 

Kate uses her Instagram to show people how to combat the fast fashion that is reaching epidemic levels. “I try not to buy anything new, I will always look for it second hand” explains Kate. “Now you can buy a lot on the internet, like different shapes and sizes that I like. If you do buy it brand new, make sure that you’re thinking about the brand that you’re choosing and making sure that you’re choosing ethical companies.”

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ETHICAL FASHION 💛 I am the first to admit that I love clothes. I always have and always will! What has changed for me over time is what I buy and where I buy it from. I stick to some simple rules overall, these are: > Buy less > Stick to timeless pieces that I can wear many times > Buy second hand > Make mindful and ethical choices when I buy new If you have seen my stories today, you will see that I have managed to find a lovely new dress for a family event that I have coming up! I managed to find this second hand online. 💛 I love the hunt of buying second hand and it feels amazing when I find something that I absolutely LOVE! Because I know what style of outfit will suit me I also feel confident with what I buy. If something doesn’t fit I take it to be altered which also means my clothes are tailored and look great! There are so many reasons to buy second hand and I could chat about it for so long, thrifting is also gentler on the environment and reduces pollution and waste 🌱 I absolutely love this illustration by @anahardesign -> she kindly let me share it on my page! Her page is full of stunning images so if you like this one be sure to go and check her out! Also sharing some startling infographics from @fash_rev about the sheer volume of clothing production and consumerism. If this area is something you are interested in, make sure you give them a follow as they share such informative information! What are some of the rules you stick to when buying clothes? #myplasticfreehome

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Buying ethically, Kate assures us, doesn’t have to break the bank. “I’ve just returned back to work so I went from having a full-time job to pretty much statutory maternity pay which was not great. So doing this as well I was really mindful of having to do it as cheaply as possible so I tried to share that in my Instagram as well because I think is really important.”

A key way to be environmentally conscious on a budget it seems is to not get caught up in the fashion of buying all the expensive zero waste products at once, even if they end up being cost-effective in the long run. “Initially when you’re changing into that lifestyle think about what you actually need rather than what you would like, and buy the products as you go along over a large span of time rather than buying all your products straight away,” says Kate.

Along with cost, she has found that the hardest part about living virtually plastic-free, despite being on maternity leave, is time. “Obviously plastic and convenience goes hand in hand so actually going plastic free, particularly with food is time consuming.” says Kate. But habits form easily, if you’re prepared to put the effort in. “It’s about rethinking your lifestyle and what you want to achieve. I try and make a lot of the things that I do into sort of a hobby so that I enjoy doing it and I sort of feel good doing it as well.”

In terms of the time-consuming food preparation, Kate has recently started highlighting her plant based diet on her Instagram page and recommends it to all. “It’s difficult because my partner is very much a meat and two veg type of person so it was quite an eye opener really. Now we quite happily sort of eat mostly plant based and it’s healthier as well as being more eco-friendly so I do enjoy that.” Kate also grows her own vegetables and shops locally as often as possible – which she recommends

Given her new influencer status, Kate has also dipped her toe into environmental activism. As shown on her Instagram account, Kate has been contacting supermarkets and calling them out for their plastic use. “It’s something that I do and I get some good feedback but it’s generally stock answers which can be quite frustrating.” She has also been in contact with her MP about nappy disposal, and again was met with a similar response, but Kate is unnerved. “The squeakiest wheels get on your nerves don’t they, so it’s about making those little noises”. 

As for what’s next for her brand, Kate has no plans to mix up what has already proved popular. “I think I’ll just carry on the same to be honest. It started out as a hobby so I enjoy doing it so I think that I’ll just carry on as it is.”