December 30, 2021
Kate Hall, Ethically Kate: Living your values
For people wanting to look after the planet whilst drinking their daily cuppa, our home compostable coffee bags are a big tick. That, combined with our dedication to Fairtrade piqued customer Kate Hall’s interest many years ago, and her and her partner have been loyal Kōkako coffee drinkers ever since.
Kate runs a successful sustainability blog and brand titled Ethically Kate, and tries to live her life on the Hibiscus Coast’s Red Beach according to earth-friendly principles and people-first motivators. This year she's freezing her wardrobe. Nothing new, nothing second hand, nothing gifted, not even a new pair of knickers, for the whole of 2022.
Here, we talk to her about conscious living, always learning, and gain some helpful eco-tips in the process.
Photo by Nectar Photography
You’re a loyal Kōkako customer and ethical consumer. What prompted your support for our brand in the first place, and why have you remained so loyal? With all products that we buy, we want to make sure that they’re sourced ethically and also use as little packaging as possible. The main things we love is obviously where the coffee comes from and the people who produce and grow our coffee, through to when it ends up on our shelf, all the people are really respected, as they should be. I know little about the coffee industry but know there’s a lot of exploitation that goes on, so I really respect Kōkako for doing that because I know that’s not necessarily easy. One of the main things we buy is the decaf drinker; I’m not a coffee drinker but I love how it tastes, and their decaf coffee is really delicious. Also the packaging is compostable, and it breaks down in our home compost!
What initially motivated you to start your business? It all started back in 2015 when I watched The True Cost documentary. A lot of ethical fashion bloggers I talk to started because of that documentary. I love fashion so seeing that documentary was very confronting. But I also grew up in a family that has sustainable values so it wasn’t a super surprise, it was more of a tipping point. I was never much of a social media person and didn’t do much online but then all of a sudden I was like ‘oh my goodness, nobody knows about this, and we’re all wearing clothes!’. So I’m six years on from that point and three or four years into doing this seriously.
So would you say that sustainable fashion is the core to your business?
I would say it was, but the core to what I do is wanting people on the planet to thrive and not walk around like robots doing whatever the mainstream tells them to, and not wanting the planet to continue to be damaged. After asking ‘who made my clothes?’ and going into that, it led to ‘who made my coffee?’ and everything else snowballed.
Once you open up to learning about sustainability, it can become all-consuming. How do you protect your own energy? Yeah, it can be all-consuming, as in how can we even be okay in the systems that are given to us? It feels impossible. But generally, I try to spend time with people I love and in nature. I generally have a really good balance of exercise and people who fill my cup, so those things keep me grounded. They help me deal with feelings of overwhelm or guilt over things I don’t do.
Obviously you do so much and are living many peoples’ dream sustainable life. But are there still things you want to improve on or work towards?
One thing I’m actually in the process of changing is who we bank with, because that’s a huge one that’s not generally talked about. You vote with your pocket, right? You vote where you put your money. It’s hugely powerful. I’m currently contacting an energy economist to look into the best power companies and discussing sustainable power.
We also have a vege garden and we’re not so great at catching rainwater, so we’re currently still on town supply, so I’m getting a rain harvesting system set up so that we can sustainably grow vegetables.
That makes sense. You’re not overwhelming yourself by attempting everything at once. Yeah exactly. Particularly when I was going waste-free, I’d just eat potatoes and rice and it was like… what else is there!? If you do it without a good knowledge of recipes and stuff, you quickly just want to give it up. So I started with breakfast; I learnt how to make my own muesli, and that was really hard at first, but once I learnt it over several months I moved on to make my own bread. And then that becomes a habit.
Do you have any suggestions of more sustainable habits that people could adopt quite easily? I’d say buy less. I buy in bulk and try to go to the supermarket only once a month, and just try not to expose myself to those places. If you want a rush [from shopping], go for a swim in cold water or have a cold shower, filling it with something else and being aware of that. It’s not that I only live with the basics of what I need, I’m not a minimalist, I still buy things. But in general, buying less stuff is really helpful. I always say two hours in your own wardrobe is more productive than two hours at a mall.
You can follow Kate’s journey and business at Ethically Kate. There’s so many resources available and it’s generally an all-round inspiring spot on the Internet.
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