Going Green with Kate Hook

Going Green with Kate Hook

Kate Hook is a mother on a mission. She’s on a crusade to “go green” and hopes families across the Central West will also consider reducing their carbon footprint in their day-to-day choices. Leading by example Kate has built her entire business around reducing carbon emissions, she’s also kicked plastic to the kerb. Kate sat down with Central West Mum’s to share she story, here is what she had to say.

Tell us about yourself and your family and how long you’ve been in orange?

We came to Orange in 2006. I have four children, two girls aged 17 and 15 and two boys aged 11 and 13. We live on a small hobby farm in Borenore.

Tell us what inspired you to start your environmentally friendly chauffer service, Eco Luxe transfers and how long has it been running for?

Eco Luxe Transfers was started in 2018, when I was trying to solve my own problem of not wanting to buy another petrol/diesel car (as I was feeling too guilty about carbon emissions). However there was no other car on the market that was fully electric and able to fit my family other than the Tesla Model X, which had a purchase price outside of my budget.

After a lot of research and consideration, I realised that the cost of ownership of the Tesla over the same period as I had my previous car (a diesel Audi seven-seater) will actually be cheaper, as you have zero fuel costs and virtually zero mechanics cost – as there is no engine, just a battery, and only 28 moving parts in the whole car, as opposed to 2500 moving parts in most fuel cars.

So initially, the idea of using my car for local and longer distance transfers was to reassure myself that I could afford it. Now that I’ve realised the car is cost-comparative with my previous car, the income is just a bonus.

What is it about your car service that is different from others out there?

There is nothing like the comfortable drive you get from an electric car. It’s smoother, quiet (no engine), lots of space as there is a gap between the two second row seats and if you think it’s fun to accelerate, this one accelerates unbelievably.

The other difference is Eco Luxe operates as a ride-share service, meaning you just buy a seat in the car for a trip, making it more affordable. You can also pay more to be driven exclusively.  Passengers also enjoy chilled water in glass bottles, zero-waste snacks, neck pillows and noise-cancelling earphones. Pick up from your front door if you live within 10 mins of Orange CBD and drop-off also to your chosen location if within 10 mins of destination (eg Sydney) CBD.

Have you transferred any famous people?

I transferred Taryn Brumfitt for the Central West Mum’s “Mumfest” event last year which was so much fun, we had great chats.

My other favourite was Craig Reucassel (Of “War on Waste”, “Fight for Planet A” and “The Chaser” fame.  What a lovely human.

I was looking forward to bringing Dr Karl for this year’s Sustainability Week in Orange, but it has been postponed to next year.

I have had quite a few “influencers” from social media, but to be honest, I had no idea who they were, so they didn’t feel like famous people to me!

What has the response been from customers?

They all say that they can’t wait to get an electric car!

Are there any plans to expand?

Yes, the plan from the start has been to grow the business into a fleet of community-owned electric cars, where members of the community can also earn money from their car while they’re at work, on holidays or otherwise not using their car.

What makes you so passionate about sustainability?

Every lungful of air we breathe, every mouthful of food we eat, every drop of water we drink, depends on the natural environment. We have pushed it too far and have a very small window of opportunity to drastically change things for the better before the rate of change in the climate is out of control.

That is not a legacy I want to leave my kids or anyone else’s kids. I need to be able to look them in the eye in ten years’ time and say, “I did what was necessary,” which is a lot different to saying, “I did my best.”

Why did you start plastic free orange?

Together with fellow members of the Environment and Sustainability Community Committee, which advises Orange City Council, we picked up on the global Plastic Free July movement and promoted it locally. I think both David Attenborough’s final episode of Blue Planet II, showing the horrendous amount of plastic killing marine life, together with the ABC’s War on Waste series (with Craig Reucassel) with it’s “plastic footprint” on Manly beach analogy, made it clear that this is a massive problem that will not go away unless people influence it with their purchase decisions or votes. The UK passed a law in parliament that after 2025, companies will need to find other alternatives to package their products unless they can justify why plastic is absolutely necessary. I think perhaps legislation is the only way to achieve this – so that needs to be communicated to political representatives.

What are your top three tips to avoid plastic?

  1. Shopping bags – say no before the shopkeeper puts your good in a bag. If you’ve forgotten your reusable bag, buy another one, so that you have more to divide between the house, car and pram/bike. The act of buying another one will be slightly annoying enough to remind you for next time.
  2. Avoiding (new) plastic toys. This is tough at first but helps SOOO much, when kids learn that it’s just the way things are. They will end up stopping themselves mid-sentence; “Mum, can I have this…..oh wait, no, it’s plastic” – this might sound like child abuse at first (!) but it’s amazing what wood/metal/natural things they find to play with. I also encourage pencils rather than textas.
  3. Drinks that come in plastic bottles are out. Again, they kids just know not to ask for them. Chocolate milk in a cardboard carton is OK though. (There is plastic lining on cardboard cartons but nothing like as much as the solid plastic bottles.) Yes, the bottles are recyclable but as The War on Waste showed us, only 10% of recyclable materials actually get recycled. For milk, you can get 1L cartons in Woollies. Also 1L glass bottles in Harris Farm, and they will accept your clean empties so they can commercially clean and reuse them.

How hard is it kicking plastic to the kerb?

In my house, we try to be as low plastic as possible. Sometimes you get caught out but it’s not as hard you think. Just start with the mindset that you want to go zero waste eventually and bit by bit, you work out how.

What’s you’re advice to other households out there who are considering ditching plastic?

Just start. There are great blogs, Instagram people and Facebook pages to share ideas. It’s so much easier than you think if you just tackle one thing at a time. Also shopping is easier if you split it up over different days that you might be in town. Then it doesn’t feel like you’re going to 6 different places that you know can satisfy your plastic-free needs – you’re just going to the one place for that one thing on that one day. It feels like less hassle.

When it comes to our war on waste what’s your biggest concern?

We’ve just been chatting about plastic waste and electric cars, but the most important thing any of us could be focussing on right now as parents is Climate Change.

If you care about anything passionately, and I mean anything, you need to care about climate change, because it is already happening and will impact everything.  For example, even if your big thing is the arts and you are passionate about theatre, music, dance etc and the value that brings to society, then you should be concerned about climate change.

The arts can only thrive in societies where citizens have reasonably stable lives. Who will be funding the arts, or even participating, in a society where people’s main concern is dealing with droughts, floods, food shortages, civil unrest and (as we have seen) pandemics.  Climate change is not a “green” issue, it’s a human and civilisation survival issue. I recommend joining these organisations (via their website or Facebook page) to find out more:

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Marianna Saran

Marianna Saran moved from Toowoomba, Queensland to Orange, NSW in 2007 and has called the Colour City Home ever since. She has two gorgeous girls aged 10 & 8.

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