Friday 23 December 2016


And that's a wrap! Signing off for 2016, and what a year it's been.

I'm using this holiday season to power down, spend time with loved ones, explore the great outdoors, and generally rest and refuel, ready for another year of hard work in 2017. I think it's safe to say the environmental and justice movements will need our strength more than ever following the global shifts toward conservatism (not to be confused with conservation!).

Wherever you are, and whatever you celebrate, sending you and yours warm wishes this holiday season.

Photo copyright Think Make Share blog

Saturday 17 December 2016

the thought counts in sustainable gift-giving

Hi All~

The silly season is well and truly upon us, even if many of us (myself included!) are still wrapped up with our usually busy schedules.

I want to thank you all for your continued support and readership over the years, and wish you and your friends a joyous holiday season, wherever you are and whatever you may celebrate at this time of year.

I want to share with you a blog post I wrote for the Sydney Environment Institute in case any of your are frantically worry about gift-giving at this time of year.

The holiday season can bring a lot of gift-related angst, can’t it? All the questions about who you should get something for, what they may want, how much to spend, and where to find the time to do it all can feel incredibly overwhelming. Not to mention the guilt felt when you receive a gift you don’t really love. Then there are the environmental and ethical implications of gift giving – not only because of the (often) harmful production of goods, but also because of the excess donations taken to charity shops during the holiday season.

Whether they are unwanted gifts or a donation of last year’s sundresses that have been replaced by this year’s style, there is a surge of donations that cost charity shops millions of dollars to sort and dispose at this time of year. But there is also a lot of joy associated with gift-giving. We communicate our love for people through gifts, show people that we understand who they are and what they love, and even help people through hard times. So instead of a completely minimalist approach to the season, I’d like to think we can find a realistic and sustainable balance during the holidays through more mindful gift giving. Think “It’s the thought that counts” with emphasis on the ‘thought’:

  • Seek sustainable alternatives to the gifts you want to give – from Fairtrade organic chocolates to ethically-produced fashion, there are sustainable choices for nearly everything. Often all it takes is a quick online search or a visit to Fairtrade store and you’ll have beautiful options at your fingertips.
  • Really think about the gift recipient. What do you know about them and what might they love to receive? Even the most eco-friendly or ethical gift in the world can quickly become rubbish if it’s not something desired by the recipient.
  • Vintage stores, OpShops, eBay and Gumtree all sell quality preloved items. Frequently you’ll find never-worn or used-once items for sale and you’ll be saving them from the overflowing charity bins or the landfill.
  • If buying someone clothing, you need to know a lot more than just their size. Consider their personal style, what colours suit them, and what you think will fit in with their wardrobe, then buy the best quality garment you can afford. If you can’t answer those questions, it may be best to steer clear of fashion purchases because clothing and accessories can be an incredibly personal decision. But if you’re feeling game, here are a few helpful resources for understanding the environmental and ethical standards of fashion brands and retailers.
  • Visit local markets and buy direct from the maker or designer – the gift will be more unique and have a smaller footprint.
  • Donate to a charity close to the heart of the gift-recipient (if any of my loved ones are reading this blog, this is on my wish list!).
  • If you’re part of a large family or friend group, draw names so each person is only buying for one other person – this allows for more time and thought to be put into that one gift that your loved one will cherish, rather than multiple gifts with less thought put into them because of the time and financial constraints that so many of us feel especially at this time of year.
  • Finally, it’s worth considering who you really want to give a gift to and not who you ‘should’ give a gift to. Some of those ‘shoulds’ you’ll still buy something for, but many you won’t, and it’s important to consider why you think you should buy someone a gift.
Seasons Greetings!

Thursday 8 December 2016

ethical shopping made easy

Hey! You up there. My North American friends - this post is especially for you!

Those of us down here in Australia have been enjoying the Good On You app for over a year now, and I can't even begin to explain how much easier it has made shopping for clothing. The Good On You team has been overwhelmed with positive feedback from Australian shoppers, and CEO Gordon Renouf further shared that, "Since we launched in Australia people all over the world have been asking when our app will be available in their country."

Well, you lucky North Americans - now it's your turn.

Say you're out and about and see a gorgeous dress but aren't sure what that label's environmental policy is like - type it into the app and see how they rate.

Or you (or your fella!) are on the hunt for some work attire but you're not sure which brand has stronger labor guidelines to protect garment workers - browse by 'suits' or 'pants' or 'shoes' and see which brands rank highest. The app will even tell you the nearest locations to buy the clothes.

Or maybe you're just curious about the latest news in sustainable fashion - have a read through the articles available on the app.

You're able to dive into greater detail for each brand included in the app to see how they rate on labor, environment and animal welfare, and a brief descriptions on what aspects the brands are doing well, where they can improve, and how Good On You came up with their final ranking.

And - one of my favourite features - you can send your own comments and feedback direct to the brands through the app. Whether it's to thank them for their commitment, urge them to do better, or to ask a specific question, the app makes it easy for you to contact 1000s of brands at the touch of a button.

Sounds too good to be true? Well it's not. But they do need a little help to get things started, and that's where you come in.

Head over to their IndieGoGo page to help fund the launch of the app in your neck of the woods (and also catch a glimpse of me in their crowdfunding video!).  For as little as $5 you can contribute to the app, and with 'perks' ranging from sustainable socks, leggings, shoes and blouses to a workshop with CEO (and ethical fashion and consumer genius) Gordon Renouf, there are winners all around.
Check it out now and let me know what you think!