27th September 2019


Kate Nelson hasn’t used single-use plastics for a decade. Her goal is to share and educate others on what she has learned over this time via her blog “I Quit Plastics”, inspiring her community to reduce their dependence on single-use plastics also.

Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?

My name is Kate Nelson also known as Mermaid, or Plastic Free Mermaid.

Just over ten years ago I was working for a scientist who informed me that petroleum based plastic takes about 1000 years to biodegrade and that much of our discarded plastics were ending up in the oceans where they do not break down, like a banana peel, but break up into millions of tiny irretrievable microscopic bits. That were being ingested by creatures of all sizes--from whales to fish to phytoplankton--thus not just harming innocent wild life, but also infiltrating the food chain. The more I learned about the harmful nature of plastics and how they carry estrogen mimicking toxins that leach into whatever they contain--the more horrified I was about this ubiquitous material. I decided that of all the issues impacting our planet, this was something within my control. I could eliminate my contribution to plastic pollution by quitting plastics.

Ten years ago I gave up single-use plastics--bags, bottles, straws, cups. As my definition of single-use plastics expanded to include food packaging, cleaning products, make-up, etc. my lifestyle got more extreme. Outsiders may have seen this as limiting, but it was liberating. It freed me from the lure of the advertisements and marketing claims. I became a far more sovereign human as my awareness around my purchases and consumption heightened and I had to teach myself to make so many items I previously bought in plastics. This has led me to eat super fresh local veggies, use only natural oils and flowers for my skin care routine, and clean my house with lemons and vinegar.

I now teach this lifestyle and encourage this reconnection to nature, and thus the remembering of our own nature. I use social media and digital platforms to share my recipes and various avenues for reducing plastic use as well as my experience in environmental activism, deep ecology, philosophy, and of course tales from my mermaid adventures.


Can you give us an overview of what I Quit Plastics is all about?

I think the world is ripe for change, especially when it comes to lifestyle changes for the environment. Many people are at a loss for how one person could ever make a difference. I Quit Plastics intends to empower us all to reclaim our sovereignty as human beings. Reminding us that every decision has an impact and we can either have a positive impact or a negative impact. I Quit Plastics offers hundreds of ways to make a positive impact. Whether it’s bringing a reusable cup or making hummus at home or explaining the science behind the dangers of plastic packaging. This is a resource for anyone at any stage of their journey or their plastics awakening to tune in and leave this space inspired, empowered to make a difference, and hopeful about the future through action taken in the present.

Describe yourself in 5 words…

I have a few answers for you here.

I know you probably wanted a list, but these are my five hyphenated words that came to me: “Deep, Sunshiney, Salty Goddess on a Mission”

  • Deep thinking
  • Oceans of Emotions
  • Covered in Sea Salt
  • Aligned in Purpose
  • Emanating Positive Vibrations
  • Here is the short list, yet doesn’t feel complete
  • Salty
  • Enthusiastic
  • Sovereign
  • Dedicated
  • Adventurous


Have you noticed a change in culture in recent years when it comes to single use items, how so?

Yes. The world is waking up to plastics. It is something we can see in our streets and on our beaches, unlike the less tangible impacts of the climate crisis. Plastic pollution is no longer something we can ignore. The bans on straws have been great low hanging fruit to pave the way for stronger legislation on plastics as well as spread awareness about the environmental impact of single-use items. I live in Byron Bay where it is socially taboo to be buy a coffee without a reusable cup. I am noticing more reusable water bottles on planes and at gyms. What is exciting is that we have the power to influence culture. This is a really fun and interesting aspect of my work. We can create new social norms by normalising using less plastics, bringing our own re-usables, making our own products. The more we do it, the easier it becomes, the more we talk about it and lead by example, the more normal it becomes, the more people see us bringing our own container for takeaway food and using our own cutlery and making our own almond milks or sunscreens--the less weird and extreme it will seem. The more we share this lifestyle and show the benefits of reconnecting to where our food comes from and knowing exactly what is in our products, the more we can empower each other and guide our communities back to nature. It’s such exciting times. We are literally innovating the solutions to save the world. Every choice either supports the thriving flourishing planet we dream of, or takes away. It’s really beautiful to be so connected to the future through our present actions.

Describe any other positive action projects you’ve worked on/working with?

I am on my way to Amsterdam next week to report from the Plastic Health Summit. The first of its kind which will break important science highlighting the impact plastic has on human health. I will be interviewing scientists and helping to communicate solutions. If people need any more reasons to quit plastics, tune in to my channels next week, because there will be some very persuasive science to support the choice!


How crucial is it to have a good pair of jeans in your wardrobe? Can you explain how you prolong the life/care for your denim so that your impact on the environment is minimalised?

So important. I would take one pair of jeans that hug my curves in all the right places over a stack of jeans in diverse styles and sizes. I love this journey I am on, because it has taught me the value of simplicity and minimalism. Less is more.

I did not always feel this way! I used to be a shopaholic in high school. I would forget what clothes I owned. Now, I travel light. I pack a few of my favourite essentials, things I love that fit me great. It’s so much easier than having a new outfit every day. I just mix and match.

I rarely wash my clothes. Machine washing clothes gyrates the fabric and causes microfibers to be released out with the waste water. These are difficult to filter out and are one of the biggest sources of pollution. I hand wash the stains or sweaty areas--like armpits--with natural soap and water in a tub and I dump this waste water into a contained garden bed. I dry my clothes in the sun. This helps keep the clothes in good condition and keeps the fibres out of the water system.

Why is it important that the textiles industry improve their production processes?

At this point in history, we need all business and industry to step up to the plate for the planet. We need better options for consumers. We need transparency up the supply chain. We need role models that take bold stances against fast fashion, against fast consumption, against fast turnover of closets. We all need to work together and the textile industry is highly influential and currently one of the top polluting industries. If we are each going to make a difference by using less plastics in our personal lives, we must also demand that the businesses which have a far greater impact on our planet’s health clean up their act as well. We can exert this demand by voting with our dollar and only supporting brands and businesses working hard to create positive change and regenerative products.


Do you think people are becoming more aware of what goes into making their clothing? What should we be doing to improve the situation?

I think we all must ask more questions. We must always be asking more questions of the things we buy--from the food we eat to the clothes we wear to the banks we keep our money in to the energy that powers our home. Where does it come from? How was it made? Conditions? Materials? Is that the best material? Why not? The more questions we ask, the more responsible companies will become. The more trustworthy and credible and transparent. The more people will buy from these companies. If we just buy things without asking questions, companies are not pushed to rise or challenged to do better. When we demand transparency and ethical operations and environmental alignment--the large textile companies can pave the way for the rest of the industry. It is hard to be one person. But when there is a large company with resources to enact great change, this is really exciting. As consumers we can ask more questions to help hold these companies to a higher standard and simultaneously create a market for more sustainable clothing.

Favourite Wrangler item? Why?

I LOVE my red cords. So comfy and I’ll have them for so long, one day they’ll be as vintage as they look! ;)

Follow along on Kate’s journey here .

Read Next

Spring 23 | Road To Nowhere
9th August 2023

Spring 23 | Road To Nowhere

This season we are taking you on a journey to explore the unexplored. Introducing Road To Nowhere, a collection inspired by lonely highways and roads off the beaten track, embracing the serenity and beauty of nature in places left untold.

Introducing Wrangler X Jakey Pedro
13th July 2023

Introducing Wrangler X Jakey Pedro

Inspired by the wildness of Navajo rodeos and bold pastel colours, we’re excited to come together with Bondi artist Jacob Pedrana to present our new Wrangler x Jakey Pedro collection.

Way Out Here. Introducing Autumn 23
12th April 2023

Way Out Here. Introducing Autumn 23

Be it rural road trips, adventures to winter cabins or exploring our great outback, this season we are yearning for serenity, for open space and a slower rhythm as we celebrate life outside of the city and back on the open road.