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Archive | Features

Your money and fossil fuels

London Commodity Markets

Photo: Fossil Fuels (Flickr/ London Commodity Markets)


At Otter’s recent event Its Up to Us event, company director and sustainability advocate Sam Mostyn drew attention to the power of the decisions we make about our superannuation and investments. She noted the value of making

an active decision as an investor to send a message to companies that are investing billions and trillions of dollars in the economy, that we would prefer that money to be spent in a more ethical and sustainable manner.

I think that the more we can encourage people to think about their super fund as tool to send a message  to the corporate sector, the better this discussion could be.

In this article, Karen McLeod from Ethical Investment Advisors outlines how to make decisions that are both environmentally and financially stable about your superannuation, and any other  investments you may have. Continue Reading →

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Eight tips for small business owners

Photo: Happy Worker (Flickr/Norsez)


About 5 million Australians run or work for a small business, making up nearly half of the work force and likely including you, a friend or a family member. Here’s eight simple ways small business can make a difference.

1. Get your paper sourcing right

Buy office paper that is made from recycled or FSC certified fibre, preferably also chlorine free or elemental chlorine free.  For extra points, choose one that is also carbon neutral, but not at the expense of the first two requirements. EcoBUY’s Stephen Reardon explains why it’s these issues in this order Continue Reading →

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The sharing economy: how to save the environment and your money

Photo: Velib (Flickr: LWY)

Photo: Velib (Flickr: LWY)

Need a shovel? Head to the hardware store. Need a place to stay? Book a hotel. Need to get from A to B? Buy a car. Right?—Not necessarily!

Welcome to the collaborative consumption community, where goods and services are exchanged and shared rather than bought.

Now if you need a shovel, you can log onto Openshed and find someone in your local community that has one for you to borrow. If you need a place to stay you can book a room in someone’s house through a service like Airbnb. If you need a car for regular travel or occasional trips, you can join a car sharing organisation and get one locally. You save on time and money, reduce your environmental footprint and might even get to know your local community. Continue Reading →

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Cruel cosmetics and consumer choice: what’s the story?

Patrick Haid, a human rights lawyer with a passionate interest in animal rights, wonders whether recent developments in testing cosmetics on animals are taking us backwards. He offers readers practical advice on how to make better purchasing decisions.

The world’s first Cruelty to Animals Act became law in the UK in 1876, and Victoria was the first Australian state to follow suit in 1883. These laws sought to constrain certain scientific practices to bring them in line with community expectations. Since this time animal interests have scored a number of political victories, from the banning of bloodsports to anti-cruelty legislation in the areas of research and hunting.

Consumer sentiment has also driven reforms advancing the ethical treatment of animals. An anti-factory farming campaign recently won assurances from Australia’s two big supermarkets that they would phase out less ethical supply methods, including cage eggs and sow stall pork. Continue Reading →

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Defining organic meat with your local butcher

You are in an ethical quandary about where your meat comes from and going vego is not your cup of tea. How do you know whether the animal was treated well? And where do you find sustainable meat? Deborah Andrich looks for answers.

The meat market Drier's Butcher. (Flikr: Jacob Vanderheyden)is full to the brim with products claiming to be free range, organic or biodynamic; it is often difficult to know what it means for the animal. The best strategy is to ask. When it comes to discovering the answer, the best person is an expert, in this case that likely includes your local butcher.

More often than not, your local butcher, and not the supermarket guy, will know which farm his meat came from, has probably met the farmer and has created the best sausages, salami or marinade in-house and knows exactly what ingredients went into it. Continue Reading →

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101* things to do about global warming: is one right for you?

Dalmatians in 1925Many of us despair of the endless arguments about the best way for government and business to reduce carbon pollution. But there’s plenty of simple and easy actions we can take in our own lives  – it’s better to act than get frustrated or complain, right? And individual actions add up and create momentum for community change.

You don’t need to be a ‘carbon warrior’ to make a difference – we’ve consulted widely to identify actions that are easy to take but also have an impact on the issues that matter most – energy use, food, transport and the stuff we buy. Some will save you money as well!

*maybe not quite 101!

Take it easy

First up – don’t worry about things you have done in the past or things you can’t do. As Alexx Stuart says “ Don’t be down on yourself for how you’ve done stuff yesterday, once you learn a better way. Be excited about the changes you are going to make today.” Continue Reading →

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How to choose an employer that’s right for you

Success - boat and wharf on peaceful lake

Success (Flickr/Grinapple) 

Believe it or not, an average worker  spends about 15 per cent of their life in the workplace. After a particularly hectic week in the office, you may think that figure surprisingly low but it’s still a large chunk of our lives in which many of us leave our ethical concerns at the door; putting them instead in the hands of our employer.

In daily life, we may make conscious choices to minimise our environmental impact, promote social sustainability, or minimise harm to animal, but how do we make sure our employer operates with a similar outlook? While we may strive to live a life that meets our personal ethical views, how can we make our time spent at work consistent with these values? Continue Reading →

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The global fashion retailers are coming – what’s their record like?

Folded jeans (Flickr/Maegan Tintari)

Folded jeans (Flickr/Maegan Tintari)

Some of the world’s largest “affordable” clothing brands have opened stores in Australia or are headed our way. What’s their record like on sustainable and ethical production?

Zara and Top Shop have opened stores in Sydney and Melbourne. But this is just the beginning of a deluge, with reports of 15-20 new stores to be opened by both brands, and 25 stores on the way from Japanese mega retailer Uniqlo. Swedish giant H&M also has plans for Sydney and Melbourne for 2014.

How do these mega brands stack up when it comes to fair working conditions and sustainable practices?

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