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Cathy’s story

Cathy is a convert to the plastic-free revolution.  Sufficiently so, that she now makes doing everything she can to contribute to the plastic-free movement. It is the base of her business, Eorth.

Cathy grew up in Cairns on the edge of the amazingly beautiful Barrier Reef.  She then went to Deakin University in Geelong to sit for a B.A. in management communications and PR.

After university, she worked for a consulting company.  They had offices in Paris and London, so she was able to work in both cities as well as in Australia for them.  When she was growing up, it was a natural part of the culture to take care of waste.

Cathy remembers being very shocked by the different levels of waste when she first went to Paris.   She saw a bag with some takeaway chicken falling to the floor in the metro and assumed that the lady had dropped it in error.  Thinking she was being helpful, she pointed it out and got a shrug in return.

After Europe, Cathy went to work in Canada and married a Canadian, settling in British Columbia.  Between them, they ran an independent newspaper for thirteen years.  She admits to hating the cold, and eventually, they decided to relocate and change their lifestyles and moved back to the resort of Palm Cove.

Cathy had also started an eCommerce Web Development and Management company using the experiences gleaned in consultancy.  However, soon after they moved back to Australia, Plastic-Free July came around.  Plastic-Free July is now a global movement that encourages people to fight plastic pollution by reducing their use.  There are many offshoot campaigns such as Plastic Bag Free Day on 3rd July, which is part of the Break Free from Plastic movement and Zero Waste Europe.   

When they returned to Australia, the first documentary series of “War on Waste” had just been released, and was doing much to bring the topic to the front of International agendas.  Trying to contribute her bit to Plastic Free July, Cathy took up their July challenge and found that shopping with less, leave alone plastic-free products was a great deal harder than it sounded. 

Eco friendly does not necessarily meet the criteria of being fully compostable and biodegradable, and even those that were often came wrapped in plastic. 

While they are relatively clean in Palm Cove, they have such a beautiful tropical rain forest, superb beaches, there is a great deal of incentive to keep it that way.  There was a considerable problem with take-out waste during the pandemic lockdown, but it is improving again now, and the council does a great job.   Cathy applauds the government’s efforts to get rid of plastic bags but says it needs to go a great deal further.

Plastic-free – Eorth

Discovering just how little produce there was out there was the starting point for what is now Cathy’s main business.  She is winding down the web development and not taking any new clients to concentrate on growing Eorth.

Discovering just how little produce there was out there was the starting point for what is now Cathy’s main business.  She is winding down the web development and not taking any new clients to concentrate on growing Eorth.

EORTH is the old English word for Earth, coming from the time before plastic packaging had been invented before single-use plastic had started to damage our planet.  All plastic is a problem, but single-use plastic is the worst offender, in things like straws and cups.  The figures are frightening.  More plastic has been produced in the last ten years than in the whole of the last century, and only 5% of that is recycled worldwide.

EORTH is now part of the global movement to become plastic-free.  Cathy decided her business aim was to become a 100% plastic-free shopping source.   Currently, they offer both zero waste and plastic-free alternatives or bath, beauty, kitchen, and laundry.

With a background in SEO and web development, getting a web site up and running was an easy first step.  Nor did she need colossal finance.  The big problem was sourcing suppliers.  Cathy quickly discovered that suppliers who claimed their products were plastic-free often did contain some plastic, or sent out the products wrapped in plastic.   Eorth’s packaging is plastic-free, using die-cut kraft paper, hemp rope, and recycled cardboard.  

People would say to her that is it isn’t possible, or difficult or that they had tried. Cathy says she ended up wanting to shut “Try Harder” at them.  As time has gone on, she has become more sympathetic, and she has been surprised by just how hard it is.  But it hasn’t dented her determination.

When she started, no-one was doing it, but now there is more competition.  She is building her Australian market first, and SEO has been a crucial part of her strategy.  She registered with as many of the eco directories as possible both for awareness and to help with backlinks.  She has had mixed results with Google ads and uses social media too.

Her other pillar marketing strategy is quality content.   EORTH’s web site takes time to explain some of the misconstrued terms, precisely what is ocean plastic or what the difference between a greenwash and a biodegradable one is.  These genuinely useful and informative blogs are a great driver.

Eorth before plastic - plastic free

One day, she hopes to reach out further than Australia.  They have made a few sales to Canada, and she has strong contacts still in British Columbia.  British Columbia is very pro-caring for our planet.  Both Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd started there.  The residents love the outside life and everything connected to nature so that it would be a perfect market.  Shipping prices from Australia make a considerable barrier till scale warrants it.

Cathy is also starting her own line of plastic-free products, some white-labeled and others she is starting to create to ensure providence.  Her success is all about having the right products, so this seemed a natural progression.

Plastic-free products from Eorth
Plastic-free products from Eorth

Cathy’s advice

If one of the July campaigns inspires you to start your eco-business, Cathy says the first thing to concentrate on is gleaning a real understanding of what is (and isn’t) truly eco.  You will need to look at the big picture.  A typical example of that is finding out if the packaging is plastic-free.

I asked Cathy how far she takes it;  should one factor in Airmiles of every ingredient, for example.  She says it is impossible to do.  Everything we do will leave a footprint of some sort.  Concentrate on minimizing it.   She feels that while we are all taught that we shouldn’t strive for perfection now, it isn’t such a bad thing to aim for when it comes to being plastic-free. 

Eco-markets are growing fast.  Starting a company in the sector is a sound business decision, but as with any business, you will be more successful, the more passion you have.

I couldn’t resist asking Cathy for some SEO advice as well, being her expert field.  She says that there was a moment when it looked as if numbers of social media followers would influence Google ratings, but it hasn’t come about.  Success still lies in the quality of backlinks and the quality of content on your site.  SEO remains the key to successful marketing for many businesses, such as Cathy’s.

Plastic-free products at Eorth

You might also enjoy this on another Australian Entrepreneur Adrian Falk.