An interview with eco Instagrammer MySustainable20s

It’s always great to come across another brilliant Instagram account who is on a similar mission to you. Ana heads up the Instagram account @mysustainable20s and honestly reviews eco products as well as doing the research on lots of different environmental topics. Definitely check her Instagram out it’s filled with loads of facts and top tips! So I decided to find out more about Ana behind this Instagram account in a quick-fire 10 questions.

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

All right, where to start? I’m originally from the Netherlands, growing up in a small town in the south. After finishing a bachelor’s degree in Film and Television, me and my brother went backpacking to New Zealand, where I fell in love with the country and my now husband. This is when I first started thinking about sustainability.

When you go hiking in New Zealand, you have to bring everything back what you bring in: there are no bins and you have to be mindful of mother nature. After saying goodbye to my new flame, me and my brother had a two-week stopover in Thailand and it felt like a complete opposite world. Nothing seemed as beautiful and green as it did in New Zealand (partially because I couldn’t get this guy out of my head) and everywhere we went we just saw trash.

Coming from a picture perfect small town, I just remember being shocked that so many people could litter without thinking about it. I moved to New Zealand after being apart from my flame for 8 months and we lived in Wellington for three years, where I’ve worked in marketing and children’s television. Life was great and we didn’t even realise that we lived a sustainable life once we moved to London and everything got harder.

I missed my family and friends in the Netherlands a lot, and that’s why we decided to move to Europe. We’ve now been living in London for three years and got married in my hometown last year. Once again, I pursued my dream of being a filmmaker and started working as a videographer in the construction industry, which opened my eyes to all the negative environmental impacts construction has.

After doing that for almost two years, I decided to go freelance. It has been wonderful meeting so many like minded people and it was brilliant being able to write, produce, film and edit for so many different projects. Then, Covid-19 hit the world.

2. How did you get the idea to set up your Instagram account @mysustainable20s?

I’ve been interested in sustainability for a very long time and really just want to inform people of all the shit we’re doing to ruin this planet and what we can do to make it better.

I noticed that so many of my friends didn’t really know what you can recycle and what not, or why drinking cow milk is worse for the environment than drinking oat milk. Or that it definitely matters what bank you put your money in to. This is how the idea slowly came into being.

I had been thinking for quite a few months about it before actually starting My Sustainable 20s, and you know how life goes – it gets busy, you kinda forget about it and all of the sudden it’s 6 months later. That is when Covid-19 happened and all of my freelance projects got postponed and cancelled. I don’t do well when I’m not completely focussed on some kind of project, so I needed something to get me off binge watching shit on Netflix.

I thought about the style and the type of posts I wanted to create a long time. There was so much I wanted to research, write and basically preach, that it took me weeks to wrap my head around how I wanted to do it, incorporating videos, photos and text. I love videography, but as I’m not able to go out and shoot because of Covid-19, I decided to use stock footage instead. I have a brilliant camera and definitely want to use it – so I decided to  use it for product photography. I somehow wanted to incorporate my DIY fails as well, which I’m mainly doing in my stories. Wow, there really is a lot going on there…!

3. What is your biggest motivation to maintain a sustainable lifestyle?

My biggest motivation is climate change. From all the ocean animals getting caught up in plastic rings to the fires in Australia, we need to change our ways. Many people don’t really understand the impact of their actions – and neither do I – but everyone should know. Now that I’ve got such a brilliant and supportive community via Instagram, it only makes me want to do better.

4. What has been your favourite eco-switch so far?

I cannot live without my water bottle. It’s one of the first big switches we made and since it’s been in our lives (3.5 years) I haven’t been able to live without it. 

5. Do you feel you’re making an impact on others with your Instagram account?

I do, but not as much as I’d like to. It is very much an eco-community, which wasn’t necessarily my target group. Those are people who are already thinking of living sustainably and I would love more followers who don’t know much about the impact their purchases have on this world.

6. Love your little Instagram videos! Where did you learn to create them?

Thanks!! I’ve taught myself to edit when I was in high school and always took my camera everywhere, making little documentaries of our holidays and trips to IKEA. I learnt more when I was at uni studying Film and TV, more as an extracurricular activity as the course was mainly theoretical. I love capturing moving images and that’s why I’m a videographer now. Unfortunately I don’t have access to a car, otherwise I’d be out and about so much more!

7. How do you enforce sustainability in the home? Do you live with anyone else you need to convince to change too?

My husband is absolutely with me on this! There are some switches I’ve made he’s not into, but he’s happy for me to try anything and everything. He was the one who even suggested for us to have a fully vegetarian wedding (which was actually the best vegetarian food I’ve ever had and there were no meat-eaters disappointed either).

8. What are your biggest environmentally-friendly changes you’re hoping to make?

I think that will come once we’re starting a family. I’ve already read into it and I know what eco-swaps will be great for our future kid(s). 

9. Have you had any eco fails to date?

Oh yes. I have given a couple of negative reviews and will keep on doing that. I’m currently using my second natural deodorant and I’m not happy with any I’ve tried so far, I can smell myself all day…Other fails have to do with DIY. I’ve tried making my own yogurt without a yogurt maker/slowcooker, but it failed both with using oat milk and cow milk (and I’ve definitely followed the instructions). I’ve also tried to make my own toothpaste, which was the most horrible thing I’ve ever tasted. Baking soda is just not working for me, way too salty!

10. It’s such a nice eco-community on Instagram. What are your hopes for your Insta account moving forward?

It absolutely is! I have always been a bit afraid of starting something where I ‘voice my opinion’, thinking about all the trolls out there. I haven’t received any horrible messages yet and even if people question anything I’ve written about, they’ve always been polite and respectful when showing me a different perspective. I’m definitely open to others’ opinions and welcome discussions on my feed or in private messages (as long as they stay civilized of course).

What I really hope to do is start making short documentaries, for example going to a recycling plant and filming how it works, or hearing from an organic farmer, talking about the changes he needed to make to certify as organic, things like that.

Now that we’re dreaming away, I really hope I could combine this with Mountain Pass Productions, my video production company, and hope to be able to pay some bills with creating videos for sustainable brands.

Well thank you so much Ana for chatting to me and I’m supporting you all the way with your Instagram. Hope you can widen your audience-base as it grows so you can begin to make a bigger impact on more people. There are so many brilliant tips and facts on your Insta, I’m sure it will build momentum in the months to come! If you want to follow Ana or find out more, then head over to her Instagram @mysustainable20s.

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