Sometimes it's a challenge to visualise what looking after our oceans and climate, and fellow human-beings and animals, means in our daily lives. How can we take steps to care in a meaningful way from within our consumer society?
We're showcasing some inspiring individuals who have tackled plastic waste in a practical way. Including Beth's '100 steps to a plastic-free life', Lauren's 'Trash is for Tossers' DIY cleaning products, and Erin's guide to zero-plastic-waste in Melbourne.
Plastic is a material that lasts forever in our environment, yet we use it for short term disposable uses. Every piece of plastic ever created still exists. It is polluting our planet at a catastrophic rate. We currently recover only 5-10% of the plastics we produce for recycling.
Who is setting the stage for moving into a toxic-free world? Our chemical-free crusaders include Gregg Renfrew of Beautycounter - creating transparency and safety in the personal care industry, Biologist Tyrone Hayes - a scientist whistleblower taking on global agribusiness, Sugar-free Sarah Wilson, and Sydney mum Irene Falcone who started her own nourishing blog and business.
It's been estimated that we are exposed to more than 700,000 different toxic chemicals on a daily basis through our cleaning and beauty products, food, clothing and environment.
Who are the people tackling slavery and fair trade issues around the world? We focus on pioneers in their field - Nick Savaidis of Etiko; Jacqueline Arias of Republica coffee; Bas van Abel of Fairphone; and jeweller-activist Greg Valerio.
According to the ILO around 21 million men, women and children around the world are in some form of slavery. Many of these are children and adults forced to work in agriculture, factories and sweatshops to produce goods for global supply chains, particularly coffee, chocolate and clothing.
We showcase some of the Australian-owned companies that you can support with your dollar - like Coopers beer, Devondale milk and Breville appliances - in amongst the many foreign-owned mainstream choices. Also we hear some voices speaking up on multinationals, monopolies, and corporate power.
Out of the top 100 brands of all food sold in Australian supermarkets, just 20 are Australian owned, and these are owned by just 14 companies. Major players from Australia's dairy, meat, beer, sugar, bread and vitamins industries have fallen into foreign hands in recent years, including National Foods, Dairy Farmers, Berri, Lion Nathan, Foster's, Golden Circle, Manassen Foods, Herron, CSR Sugar, Bead Foods, Australian Paper, AWB, P&N's juice.
Take a behind-the-scenes look at what happens on some 'real' free-range farms. We showcase some of the people considering best practice with regards to the ways chickens and pigs are treated.
The new legal legal definition of "free-range eggs" see a stocking density of up to 10,000 hens per hectare. The announcement is a loss for consumer and animal welfare advocates who support the CSIRO Model Code of Practice, which sets the limit at 1500 hens per hectare. (SMH, March 2016)
Eating less meat is a step in caring for our environment, our food system, animal welfare and our own health. We feature Essendon footballer David Zaharakis and his visit to Edgar's Mission, animal rights advocate Lauren Ornelas, and Treehugger founder Graham Hill.
“Let us remember that animals are not mere resources for human consumption. They are splendid beings in their own right, who have evolved alongside us as co-inheritors of all the beauty and abundance of life on this planet” ― Marc Bekoff
Growing numbers of farmers are seeing the benefits of improving soil health and moving beyond chemical solutions to resolve problems. Consumers too are finding it easier to access organic produce and be part of the process of looking after our land. Here we showcase Captain Creek Organics, Barambah Organics, Powlett Hill Biodynamic Farm, and the Australian Organic Schools program.
“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.” ― Wendell Berry
Trees of course, are essential for our clean air, water systems, biodiverity and peace of mind. Here we explore various toilet paper brands and initatives in the move away from logging native forests (and even commonly-used plantation pulp) towards content recycled from waste and alternative fibres.
The average use of 57 sheets of toilet paper per day is equivilent to 384 trees for 1 lifetime’s use.
We share the world with other species but often see them as mere commodities to our ends, rather than sacred and precious in their own right. Here we showcase the positive changes in ending animal testing of cosmetics, introduce key people instrumental in change, and explore some product alternatives.
Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction. It is "because animals are like us" that experiments are useful. It is "because the animals are not like us" that it is morally okay to test on them.
Why spend at the local store rather than the big-box department store? Here we explore the powerful impact of buying local, and what's in it for you.
"On average, 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses was recirculated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores. " ― Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Some platforms help us be creative and productive rather than merely passive consumers in a marketplace. Here we focus on outstanding organisations and their founders, including iFixit (facilitating repair), Green Collect (transforming waste), Etsy (enabling local craft), and the 'Thift haul' movement (redefining fashion).
"Creativity consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know. To think creatively we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted." ― George Kneller
Supporting small independent grocers and retailers can help connect you in with your community. Shopping at farmers’ markets and food co-ops can give you greater understanding of the story behind your food, and give you access to food grown close to you.
"Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. " ― Miles Kington
What are the victories and milestones that have shaped the Ethical Consumer movement over the past 40 years? What events have raised consumer awareness of issues, or raised the bar of acceptable standards for company behaviour? Have a glimpse of what's been and what's to come in our new Interactive time-line!
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. " ― Søren Kierkegaard
Palm oil is an ingredient in thousands of products we use every day. But palm oil has a dirty secret: forest destruction. Every year, thousands of hectares of Indonesian rainforest and peatlands are being destroyed to make way for new palm oil plantations. Here we look at the issues, with a specific focus on labelling and alternatives.
"The simple fact is that the world is not paying for the services the forests provide. At the moment, they are worth more dead than alive... " ― Charles, Prince of Wales
What does profit and loss really mean? How should we as a society define business success? Here we showcase some of the leaders and pioneers who are incorporating social and environmental considerations as core values.
"Society is constantly recalibrating, redefining what it considers to be moral and immoral" ― John Hurt
Does money make us happy? Sometimes... and sometimes not. Have you ever wondered if you could live without money, or even why you may want to? Here we showcase some people who have experimented in living without money, and in the process, learned much about freedom, generosity and what is possible.
"Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail" ― Kinky Friedman
The sharing economy - it's a broad term which includes peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding, tool-swapping, room-renting, couchsurfing, carsharing and more. Using technology and collaboration to transform the world of commerce with a focus on use rather than ownership. Here we explore how it can be a force for good. And touch on some of the down-sides.
“Beyond the public relations efforts of platforms like Uber and Airbnb, there may be deeper reasons why the term “sharing economy” is so popular: It captures some of the thinking and the idealism of the early proponents of economy-wide sharing approaches. It hints at the shift away from faceless, impersonal 20th-century capitalism and toward exchange that is somehow more connected, more embedded in community, more reflective of a shared purpose.” ― Arun Sundararajan
Illegal hunting, habitat destruction and pollution mean that a vast number of the amazing and beautiful creatures that we share the planet with are now endangered. Here we showcase some individuals and organisations working to protect these animals.
“ Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” ― Albert Einstein
Oil, coal and gas currently provide the greater part of our electricity generation and transportation fuels. Here we focus however on people and communities showing leadership in shaping a future beyond these finite and polluting sources of energy. (Beyond Adani coal, beyond cheap gas, and beyond current energy policy).
“ The best way to predict the future is to create it.” ― Alan Kay
Who is looking beyond the current "take, make and dispose of” industrial model? Innovation is the key to a more circular economy, based on natural systems. Here we explore the ideas and work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, MUD Jeans and Eenies biodegradable nappies.
“ As a species we have convinced ourselves that we are not part of nature, so 3.8bn years of R&D doesn’t apply to us, only the last 200 years. Look at a spider making thread, and then look at the huge chemical plant making our synthetic equivalent – we have a lot to learn from nature.” ― Janine Benyus, Author of Biomimicry
Hollywood star James Cromwell is perhaps best known for his role as Farmer Hoggett in the 1995 movie 'Babe'. However he's drawing as much attention in his inspirational second life - as a fearless animal activist and eco warrior.
“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” ― Ovid
The small straw has a big effect. We look at some amazing initiatives to stop the flow of plastic. Incuding nine year-old Molly Steer from Cairns who set about convincing schools to remove single use plastic straws from their tuckshops; and Eva Mackinley who founded The Last Straw campaign to end the use of plastic straws in pubs.
“The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble." ― Blaise Pascal
In the face of the ‘awful facts', we can find ourselves overwhelmed and paralysed by our feelings. It is worth remembering that “strong feelings are a compassionate response to the world”. They can become the very ‘motivating’ forces that lead to meaningful action. In this feature we explore activism and the journey from despair to empowerment.
“"Do not lose heart. We were made for these times." ― Clarissa Pinkola Estés