Interview // Ethically Kate

Interview // Ethically Kate

Meet Kate Hall, the vibrant woman behind Ethically Kate. Over the last couple years, as I’ve dived into ethical fashion and living, I’ve started following a lot of ethical influencers and Kate is hands-down one of my favorites. In a social media world that is often defined by unrealistic standards, Kate keeps it real. She’s always striving to live a more conscious and eco-friendly lifestyle while inspiring others, but she’s never judgmental or preachy. Plus her New Zealand accent is simply irresistible. Below she’s sharing more about her personal journey and offering some no bullshit advice for anyone on this ethical lifestyle journey.

Hi Kate! Let’s start with your background. Can you share a little about your home?

I live just north of Auckland on a little peninsular called The Hibiscus Coast. I’ve lived here my whole life, with a few stints during my childhood (e.g. 2 years in England as a baby, and 2 years in Mongolia as a 10 year old). Up here, it’s like our own little paradise. You are never more than walking distance from the beach, and in the summer it’s alive with happy vibes, as it’s a popular holiday destination. My favourite part is that I don’t have to wear shoes most places, and I can hear the waves from my bed if the wind is blowing in the right direction.

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How did you first become interested in ethical living?

I think I’ve been raised in it, without knowing it until recently. My parents have always been very mindful of the environment and our global community. We are all super thrifty so I was always taught to mend things, respect our belongings, and give back more than you take. We’ve always composted and tried to reduce our waste.

It was about 3 years ago though that I watched The True Cost documentary and it made me boil inside. I’ve always adored fashion (when I was younger I’d change my outfit like 10 times a day and do fashion shows) and when I became aware of the issues, I decided I’d commit to it 100%. From fashion, it grew into being conscious of every part of my consumption, and it’s still snowballing!

How did your interest in ethical fashion and living manifest itself into Ethically Kate?

It was never intentional, it just began as I started to be vocal. I would email brands and ask them the hard questions and connect with awesome brands to thank them for their work. I’ve always been a good writer, and brands picked up on that, so they started to formally ask me for reviews, and guest blog posts, and then to officially collaborate.

People also know I love to chat, so they would email or message me for advice. Then I realized people wanted more. So basically I just said yes to a whole lot of things I LOVE.  I’m also not afraid of being on camera, or public speaking, so I like to use these skills to spread knowledge that I think is so important for everyone to hear.

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Ethical living is such a broad term, and it can mean different things to different people, so what does it mean to you?

To me, ethical living kind of describes an awakening. It means being conscious to your entire impact as a human being, on the planet and on other human beings.

Ethical living is literally opening your eyes and getting in touch with what it means to be existing on this earth, and how to exist in the best way possible.

Ethical living is also doing the best with what you have as well. For example, how could you be vegan in a country where vegetables don’t grow well in the soil? I witnessed this firsthand in Mongolia.

I love that phrase “doing the best with what you have” because I think it’s so easy to start experiencing guilt when you feel like you didn’t make the “right” choice. Do you ever feel like that?

Every day. Particularly now that I am publicly known and people watch my daily life on IG and recognize me in public, I always feel like I have to do more, and be careful about every action and aware if I’m doing things ‘right’. But screw that, to be honest.

Eco-fatigue sucks, and there’s no place for it. It’s not beneficial for ANYONE.

The fact is we still live in society, around plastic and mainstream fashion, and we can’t do it all. It’s not realistic. And that’s fine. If you’re even considering this question or feeling guilty, you’re already ahead of the game!! Being aware is awesome, and you are your own person, on your own journey.

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Can you offer some practice advice for those who are just starting this more conscious way of living?

Think before any monetary purchase is made. Even if it’s just grabbing chewing up when you top up with petrol. Think about that whole purchase. Don’t take anything for granted. Ask questions to everyone, no matter how ‘high up’ they are or if you think it’s a stupid question: ask it. Don’t jump into it 100% in one day. Take little steps, make them become your everyday habits. It’s not sustainable to change all at once–please don’t go plastic free overnight. It won’t work. Do things gradually. Talk about it with others, they may be on the same journey as you.

Last spring you did a month-long minimalist challenge, where you gave away a corresponding number of things for every day of the month, (e.g. 1 thing on April 1, 20 things on April 20th). Can you talk about that experience?

So the main part of my week is writing content for other brands and I was asked to write one about minimalism. I got really into the topic, read the book Stuffocation, and did a lot more research around it than I usually would for a wee blog post. I even read the article to my husband, Tim. One day, he said “grab your phone, get out your Instagram stories, and film me”. He then said “Kate, I challenge you to the minimalist challenge”. He wanted to know if I could talk the talk, could I walk the walk?

We both did the challenge and started documenting it on Instagram, and everyone got REALLY into it. I never thought it would become such a big thing! There are probably around 50 people who have even done it themselves because they heard us doing it. Then the media picked it up, and it went big!

It was probably the best thing I’ve done for my life habits. Now, we think even harder about each purchase, and nothing comes into the house unless we’ve dwelled over it. I feel so FREE and uncluttered! It helps your mental state, and reduces franticness. Plus I now so adore our home, wardrobe, and space so much more: because it’s all our favourite things.

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Another challenge that was so inspiring to me was the Ration Challenge where you eat for a week like a Syrian refugee to raise awareness and funds for the ongoing refugee crisis. Can you talk about that experience as well?

I took on the challenge because my flatmate works for the organization who was running it and wanted a buddy. I thought it could be fun to do together and I love a good challenge! I didn’t realize how mind opening it would be. There were lots of tears, and I won’t ever look at food the same way. Knowing I could eat food after the week was over, but thousands couldn’t, killed me on the inside. It made me appreciate my life SO much, and appreciate flavours, variety, and having utensils and things to cook on–the little things we just always expect will be there. It was also amazing to raise over 1K to support Syrian refugees. Such a cool team effort!

Whether your doing a challenge, of sharing about a product, or cleaning up trash on the beach, your positivity is so apparent. How do you keep that attitude, especially when you see the state of the world and encounter people’s apathy?

Let’s get super real right now: I’m sick of seeing all the martyrs who sacrifice things to be activists, and only share about the shit that is happening. There’s definitely a time and place for this and I completely respect it, but it often makes the everyday person turn away from the issues. Why would you want to listen to a message if the underlying theme was “you’re the issue”?

There are some awesome things happening in the world too, and perhaps highlighting and motivating those awesome things will help the darkness of the world phase out.

As cheesy as it sounds, life is literally too short to be all gloom and doom about everything. PLUS, I’m generally just a cup half full kinda person.

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Lastly, why do you think these topics are so important?  

Our world is too beautiful to waste, and we’re running out of time. Our habits have become too much for the environment to handle and bounce back. The human race has created the mess, and we need to get out of it. Existing is awesome, I love being alive (and I want my children’s children to love that too), but it will mean nothing if we don’t step up to the plate.

Make sure to follow along with Kate on IG @ethicallykate. And check out her blog, Ethically Kate, for thought-provoking articles (plus some amazing discount codes for some her favorite ethical brands). Thanks again for sharing Kate!

 

Simple Summer Lemon Pasta

Simple Summer Lemon Pasta

This summer pasta with lemon and cream has a prime spot in my heaven. I love it for so many reasons. One, it reminds me of days in Italy. At school the wonderful Sicilian cook would make her version of this pasta at least once a week and it was truly everyone’s favorite meal. Well maybe only second to her homemade pancakes smothered in Nutella.

Eating this pasta made me realize that good food doesn’t have to complicated. In fact, all the recipes I gravitate towards are simple recipes and I think I owe it all to this pasta. In Italy, we devoured this pasta all through the winter and spring. Now, my favorite season to make this recipe is summer when lemons are extra ripe and you don’t want to turn your oven on!

The simplicity of this recipe makes it an easy weekday meal, plus my picky toddler completely devours this summer pasta. Another reason I keep this recipe in rotation is because it’s an amazingly filling meatless option, especially when paired with a vegetable side, like this simple arugula salad. We typically eat vegetarian a few times a weeks and this summer pasta is so delicious, you don’t even miss the meat. And now, the recipe. I hope you love it as much as me.

summer pasta with lemon and cream

INGREDIENTS:

Pasta
A guzzle of olive oil
A half a cup of white wine
Juice from half a lemon plus lemon zest
A few tablespoons of heavy cream
Shredded parmesan cheese, lots of it

DIRECTIONS:

Boil the pasta. While the pasta is boiling, mix together the olive oil, wine and lemon juice in a big pan. Let it combine over low heat for a couple minutes. Then, when the pasta is done add it to your sauce, along with the cream and some shredded parmesan. Serve with lemon zest and more parmesan on top.

That’s it! Use the best and freshest ingredients you can find to make this simple summer pasta pop.

What about you? What are some your favorite simple summer meals?

 

A Rhythm for the Seasons

A Rhythm for the Seasons

I miss seasons. Fall, Spring, Winter, Summer (in that order). I miss the first warm day of spring after a cold winter almost as much as I miss the first cool day of autumn after a hot summer. Seasons have a natural rhythm and focus, whether it’s playing in the summer or gathering together in the fall. Not having true seasons in LA has undoubtedly been the hardest part about living in this city for the last seven years.

LA’s weather is warm to hot and back again. This anti-seasonal living has often made me feel lost with no anchor in time. So, because seasons are so crucial to me, but I have no control over the weather, I’ve started pondering different ways I can distinctly celebrate each season with seasonal rhythms that will hopefully bleed into a rhythm for my weeks and days.

The goal is for these seasonal rhythms to have a distinct focus, but also a connectedness throughout the year, each season building off the previous season and informing the next.

Although the calendar year starts in winter, I’m starting my seasonal rhythms with spring. One of my favorite childhood books about weather starts with spring, everything is just coming to life- it’s a perfect beginning.

SPRING //  SIMPLIFY

Spring is the season I want to be outside the most. Even in LA, spring is beautiful and inviting. The warm weather also brings that spring cleaning bug. But, instead of focusing solely on deep-cleaning, spring is the perfect time to simplify. Subtract from the stuff and noise and choices and media in order to experience and live more. The goal is not to have a perfectly clean house at the end of the season, or even to become a minimalist, but rather to be in a mindset of simplification that will carry you throughout the seasons.

SUMMER // MAKE-DO

The goal for summer is to capture some of that childhood summer magic by focusing on experiences rather that things. The summers of my childhood felt endless. The days were slow and languid, spent making things – a treehouse, popsicles, mud-pies. And also doing things – visiting the beach, going to a museum, plus a lot of simply doing nothing. Now my summers have become consumeristic instead of creative. As an adult it’s been a long time since I’ve flexed my creative muscle or given myself permission to do nothing – these are the goals for summer.

AUTUMN // EDUCATE

Fall is the season I miss the most. I know I already said that, but it’s so true I’ll say it twice. The cool air of autumn always awakens my mind. I feel the most clear-headed in the cool days, or maybe it’s just the 18 plus years of starting a new school year in autumn. From the time we’re born through college, our lives are dedicated to learning. Then as adults, education takes a backseat. A few of us are lucky enough to have a challenging job that promotes learning, but I image that most of us (me included) spend our days checking off a to-do list, instead of carving out time to grow. Learning is obviously achieved through many forms, but reading tops the list. This autumn I’m finding time to continue my personal education and growth, because we are never too old to learn something new.

WINTER // GIVE A DAMN

Winter’s theme is the accumulation of these seasonal rhythms and really the point of this entire blog. Care about the the world’s resources – it’s trees and oceans and animals. Care about the simple things and do the simple things with care. Care about bettering yourself and raising a better generation. Care about people – all the people, your children, yourself, your neighbors, and the people you can’t see – those people who make your clothes and who grow your food.

We can’t be perfect, but we can all be better if we just start to give a damn.

That’s it! I’m sure these seasonal rhythms will evolve as the months progress, but I’m really excited to have a focus for each season to help anchor my thoughts and actions. And I would love for you all to follow along! I’ll be posting blogs about each season’s focus to help give concrete ways to implement the theme into your daily rhythm. Do you have seasonal rhythms you practice throughout the year? I would love to know!

Simple & Sustainable Kid’s Gifts

Simple & Sustainable Kid’s Gifts

Birthdays. Baby showers. Holidays. No matter what time of year, there’s always an event that require a kid’s gift. But the next time you need a kid’s gift, try thinking outside the box with your gift giving and gift wrapping. These simple and sustainable kid’s gifts are just are fun, thoughtful and guaranteed to please parents too.

// Forget the Toy //

Instead of buying a toy, gift an experience. Experiences are by far my favorite gift to give and receive. Do some research and find out what’s close to you. Kid’s museums are a great bet or annual passes to a local garden are perfect for the whole family.  If you have a local theater, giving tickets to see a show would be super sweet and you can’t lose with movie vouchers for a fun family outing. My absolute favorite birthday gift for Lewie was tickets to Disneyland.

sustainable kid's gifts

// Make or Bake //

If you can sew, make your own sustainable kid’s gift. There are so many cute ideas that can be made out upcycled fabric. If you can’t sew, or simply don’t have the patience for that (like me), there are still options, like this adorable lego set made with a thrifted lunch tin or naturally-dyed play dough. Think about the child’s favorite activities and get creative.

Or you can always bake something. Chances are someone was going to make cake for that birthday party so it might as well be you. Coordinate with the host and bring something delicious. This is great option especially if the invite says no gifts, but you still want to do something nice.

If the above options are not your thing, no worries, go ahead and buy the kid a toy. Kids love toys and there is no guilt in buying a gift. But there a couple simple ways to make buying a toy a more sustainable and eco-friendly affair.

// Shop Secondhand //

Here’s the thing, kids, especially younger kids, do not care if their toy is new. Lewie reacts the same if he sees a train in a thrift store or in target. Buying secondhand is great if you’re on a strict budget, because you’re going to get more for your money. Try thrift stores, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. One of my absolute favorite baby gifts was a friend’s selection of her own kids favorite baby books handed down to me.

// Support Small Business //

If you do want to buy new, search your local kids store first and try to buy something that will last a long time. If you don’t have a local kid’s store, here some of my favorite online kid’s stores for unique gifts:

Shop Merci Milo // If you live in LA, this adorable store has a brick-and-mortar in Eagle Rock.

Bella Luna Toys // I adore their arts and crafts section, perfect for inspiring creativity in elementary aged kids.

The Little Market // For babies, The Little Market has the sweetest selection of fair-trade animals and rattles.

Etsy // Etsy has a huge selection of beautiful handcrafted toys. You can also shop based on a custom location. I love putting in my state to see what’s made close to me.

TIP: Most online shops will have a notes for seller section. I always ask (nicely) to please use as little plastic and packaging as possible. And speaking of packaging…

// Pick Frustration Free Packaging //

And if you’re running late and need to use trusty Amazon Prime (we’ve all been there) search toys with Frustration Free Packaging. Frustration Free Packaging just means way less packaging is used and what is used is recyclable. Just a quick search gave me lots of great toy options. A few favorites:

Green Toys Dump Truck // Green Toys are a favorite in our house. They’re durable, great for indoor, outdoor and water play, plus made with 100% recycled plastic. Below Lewie is playing with his Green Toys Firetruck.

sustainable kid's gifts

Plan Toys Tea Set // A tea set is a childhood staple. I love how sturdy and unisex this one is!

Wooden Croquet Set //  I grew up playing croquet ever summer so this toy is super nostalgic for me.

Bead Coaster  // I’ve never met a toddler who doesn’t love these things. It’s one of the very few toys Lewie will play with basically everyday for whole minutes at a time.

// Forgo the Wrapping //

And lastly, find a creative way to wrap your gift. For baby showers, I love wrapping my gifts in swaddles or baby blankets. Or just sort through the recycling to find something to wrap your gift in. Chances are you’ll find a box or paper that will work. And if you have kids of your own, let them help decorate. Or stick the gift in a reusable bag. And if all else fails, just forget the wrapping all together and gift it with a smile. In the end, the kid won’t care.

sustainable kid's gifts

What about you? What are some of your favorite tips to making gift-giving more sustainable?

 

3 Instagram boundaries to start now

3 Instagram boundaries to start now

Recently on Instagram a rather popular mommy Instagrammer I follow asked this question in her story: Does Instagram inspire you? Or make you feel bad about your life? I thought the question was so interesting, but even more interesting were the answers. HALF of the people answered that Instagram made them feel bad about their lives, but there they were, on the exact app that, when they’re being honest, breeds negativity.

I understand. Like most, I have a complicated relationship with Instagram. At it’s best it connects me friends, introduces me to new places, ideas and people. And yes, it can even inspire me. At it’s worst, it’s an addicting, envy-inducing time waster.

For decades there have been mediums that beg comparison. Billboard advertisements. Television shows. Glossy magazines. But Instagram is different. It’s pervasive–always just an addicting click away, plus it poses as real life. Even though we all know that Instagram is fake, it’s difficult to remember when everything feels so real, only better.

This past year it seemed that everyone I knew went on an Instagram cleanse. By now we all know the determents of social media overload, but the detox mentality can often be like a rocky relationship. Break up. Get back together with vengeance. Repeat. I’ve also done this pattern and in the end, Instagram always ends up back in my life, and like the people above, half of the time I enjoy it and half of the time I hate it.

So this year, instead of a hasty break-up, I decided to set some simple instagram boundaries, a crucial aspect of every healthy relationship.

These really are simple and honestly, rather obvious, but sometimes reminders are good. So here they are.

// TURN NOTIFICATIONS OFF //

First things first, I turn notifications OFF. If I’m notified every time I get a like or comment, I immediately find myself checking the app and then I’m sucked in for minutes. This one easy Instagram boundary has really changed my relationship with this app. Out of sight (more) out of mind.

// TAKE DAILY MINI-BREAKS //

This is hardest Instagram boundary. And while it’s difficult, it truly is freeing. Time boundaries will probably be unique to you, but find out what is beneficial for you and stick with it. My strict time boundaries are never checking Instagram in bed. That means before going to sleep OR when I wake in the morning. I also don’t use Instagram if I’m out with Lewie and Bryce. I’ll take photos and videos on my phone, but I don’t upload them till later. That exclusive family time is rare and important to me so I don’t want to be distracted by looking at other’s lives instead of living my own.

I also make intentional time every day to be with Lewie sans phone. I put my phone on a shelf somewhere out of reach and then leave it. This one is actually really hard because I often find myself reaching for my phone out of habit. Going outside and leaving my phone inside is one fool proof way to ensure that I spend time with my child without my phone.

// FOLLOW THE POSITIVE //

If you’re scrolling through Instagram and you start feeling jealous or annoyed or upset, pinpoint what accounts make you feel that way and immediately unfollow. I used to follow all these accounts that didn’t bring me joy, but now I am extremely choosy about who I allow in my daily life. Also, I have friends in real life whose social media accounts I don’t follow.

Sometimes you can have a great relationship with someone in person, but their social media persona drives you bonkers. The real life relationship is 1000 times more important anyways. It’s totally ok to unfollow these people- strangers, friends and even family. It’s an obvious boundary and yet it took me way too long to realize the benefits of controlling my feed.

That’s it! These three simple Instagram boundaries have really helped me have a healthier relationship with this app, a relationship that I actually truly enjoy. How about you? Do you set Instagram boundaries? Please share!

 

5 Alternatives to Goodwill

5 Alternatives to Goodwill

With the new year in full swing so is my desire to organize and simplify. All month I’ve cleaned, collected, and sorted piles of things to donate. I finally packed it all in my car and drove to Goodwill, ready to feel the sweet relief of purging. But when I arrived, it seemed that every person in the city of Los Angeles had the same new year’s desire as me.

Boxes and trash bags and all matter of donated clutter was piled so high it was overflowing from the massive warehouse. The chances of my things having a second life here was slim to non-existent.  So I turned around and came up with a few different alternatives to Goodwill.

Continue reading “5 Alternatives to Goodwill”

Weekend bakes // Easy pizza dough

Baking is one of those luxurious activities  I said goodbye to after my baby. I feel like I never have time to bake, and when I do have sprinkled minutes of free time, I tend to fill it with the more practical needs of living. Baking is not a practical need of living, at least not anymore. But there is something satisfying about baking–the slow process of the task, the kneading, the time waiting for it to rise, the smell of it baking in the oven. Continue reading “Weekend bakes // Easy pizza dough”