Kate Hall, aka Ethically Kate, describes herself as a freelance writer, kombucha addict, serial smiler, and ethical fashion activist. She's on a mission to live her best sustainable life, while spreading the word through her blog Ethically Kate. In our latest issue of The Green Chair (available to read online here), we invited Kate as one of our five ‘People for Progress’ - people in the eco realm who are fiercely navigating the path to green. Find out why Kate says we should stop pretending ‘green’ living is cheap, what it’s going to take to make sustainability stick for good and what the $2 Sustainable Salons fee means to her.
Kate with the team at Tayla'd Styling Auckland
When we take a look at ‘green’ options, there is often a premium applied to the sustainable choice, leading people to think that buying ‘green’ is expensive. There’s a reason behind this, and Kate tells it as it is, “That’s totally right. For example, ethical fashion costs more. Some would try to argue it doesn’t, but the fact is, fast fashion doesn’t represent the true cost. We perceive the ‘green’ lifestyle as expensive, because sustainably and ethically made products reflect the true costs it took to make a product with more consideration for the planet and its people. That’s just the facts. A $5 t-shirt doesn’t add up, but a $60 one does.”
"Sustainably and ethically made products reflect the true costs it took to make a product with more consideration for the planet and its people. That’s just the facts."
Kate also notes that the cost of sustainability seems higher because we're constantly encouraged to buy more, “People get so freaked out at the cost of sustainable products and services because they have consumer habits which mean they consume a heck of a lot. Understandably, if they swapped all their purchases and services to eco-options, they would be spending a lot more money. Rather than swapping out your polyester t-shirt with one made of organic cotton, stop and ask, “do I really need another t-shirt?”” If we were to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as we can and buy new, sustainable options only when truly needed, the premium applied to sustainable goods would be less daunting.
Choosing sustainable options supports businesses who are doing the right thing, and helps to make the sustainable movement mainstream (and keep it there!). But Kate is also hopeful that more than just consumer demand will cement sustainability's place in the spotlight, “I get scared that sustainable products will pass as a fad. But then I see the massive changes happening in government, manufacturing, and mass-producing factories. I think we’ve come so far that it’s impossible for sustainable living and sustainable products to fall as a fad. Sure, it will certainly look like a fad in some circles, and I’ve seen it pass as a fad several times in some industries, but on a whole, it’s only uphill from here.” Kate also recognises that education could be one of the greatest allies for sustainability, she says, "To normalize sustainable products, we need to be educating from the very get go. I’m passionate about education in kindergartens and high schools becoming the solution to long term growth in the sustainability space."
Sustainable Salons empowers our salon members to charge each client a small $2 green fee on their total service bill in order to implement the Sustainable Salons program (where 95% of the waste produced during the client’s service is collected and recycled, and the proceeds are donated to community programs including OzHarvest and go towards R&D to find more repurposing and recycling options for salon waste materials). This structure educates the client, and calls for them to take responsibility for their choice to have a salon service and the footprint that will leave on the planet. We asked Kate for her thoughts on this,
“I think it’s amazing. It’s a great way to show the consumer where the extra cost is going, rather than hiking up the prices and putting people off without them knowing they’re paying the true price for (what I think) a haircut should cost."
|Kate with Amanda from Bob Melbourne|
"You’re right; it’s hugely educational, and gets people thinking. I bet their thoughts around sustainability won’t leave when they set foot out of the salon. It will spark ideas around how they consume in other areas of their life.”
Kate has visited three different Sustainable Salons members and she had glowing reviews about how the program was presented to her, “I’ve visited three different sustainable salons. The way they have adopted ‘eco-schemes’, are done in a very classy and sophisticated way. The ‘green free’ feels like a pleasure to pay, the signs, stickers, and posters are clear, direct, but don’t ruin the feng shui. Particularly since it’s the hair industry, I think Sustainable Salons could be one of the biggest game changers. Who else gets the opportunity to be up close and personal with someone, for several hours at a time. Hairdressers are known for chatting, and the conversations I’ve heard (and had!) in your salons, are life changing.”
Thanks to the work of people like Kate, sustainability is securing its place in our lives. You can't put a price on the planet, but with the right mindset, education and sustainable businesses, taking care of the planet doesn't have to cost the Earth!
Thanks Kate for joining us as one of our ‘People for Progress’, CLICK HERE to find out more about Sustainable Salons and check out our other ‘People of Progress’ in The Green Chair #6.