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!


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”

Ethical fashion on a Budget

Ethical fashion on a Budget

I can’t afford ethical fashion. Oh I daydream and drool over beautiful clothes, but in reality I barely buy these enviable items. I have a baby, live in one of the most expensive cities in the US and owe a mountain of student loans. Spending $300 on a dress is not my reality.

However, I firmly believe in the detriment of fast fashion, from the treatment of workers to the depletion of natural resources. I know the facts and ignoring them is not an option. And yet sometimes I have to buy new clothes. So over the years I’ve developed a few simple tips on how to shop ethically on a (very) small budget.

Tip 1 // Schedule Shopping 

These days shopping is a past time, an almost mindless activity like eating popcorn in front of the TV. But if you’re really on a budget, than shopping ethically requires planning, like months and months planning. Think about your closet and what items you will need next season and the season after that and the season after that. For example, if you know that next summer you’ll need a new swimsuit, don’t wait till next summer to buy it. Instead, buy it at the end of the current summer when it’s likely to be on sale. Maybe you can’t afford ethical fashion at full price, but you might be able to afford it on sale, especially if you plan ahead. Find some shops you love and then sign up for their newsletters and follow them on IG so you’re the first to know when sales hit.

Tip 2 // Think Thrifty

Before heading to the mall, check out your local thrift or consignment stores first. Or if you’re more into online shopping, search ThredUp for second-hand deals, or Etsy for vintage finds. Chances are they’ve have what you need, potentially at a better quality and lower price. If you’re new to thrift shopping and want some tips, check out this blog.

Psst:: You can also get $10 of  your first ThredUp order with this code:

Tip 3 // Wear Well 

You can’t afford the ethically-made piece, you tried to buy second-hand with no luck and you need something, now. We’ve all been there. My advice? Buy the highest quality thing you can afford and then wear it again and again and again. Have you heard of the 30 wears challenge? The idea is that before you buy something new, ask yourself, “Will I wear this 30 times?” If you wore that piece once a week it would take 7 months to reach 30. So another way to ask is, “Will I still want to wear this in a year from now?” If everyone committed to wearing clothes 30 plus times before buying new, it would dramatically alter the fast-fashion industry. Instead of buying throwaway pieces, buy pieces that you love and that will become closet staples.

Tip 4 // Mend your Mindset 

We’re surrounded by a culture of consumerism and maybe like me you live in a city that is obsessed with fashion. It’s easy to feel insecure when everyone from the downtown party to the local park seems to be dressed effortlessly cool. I’ve had countless moments of insecurity about what I’m wearing. It takes time to alter your mindset when fast fashion is so ubiquitous. I constantly have to remind myself why I believe in slow and ethical fashion. We’re so disconnected from the process of creating clothes that it’s easy to forgot that real people are involved in every step. But a real person’s hands had to plant the cotton seeds and sew the seams, so in my moments of insecurity I remind myself of those people’s hands.

How about you? Do you have any tips on shopping ethically on a budget?