The RSPCA’s exciting new initiative Choose Wisely puts power back in the hand of the consumer, allowing you to look up cafes and restaurants putting humane food on the menu, with just a click. Melissa Hobbs and Jessica Gray from the RSPCA explain how it works.
The silly season is just weeks away, bringing with it a gift-hunting and Christmas shopping frenzy. This doesn’t mean your environmental and ethical conscience needs to go out the window, though. Jess Noble rounds up the best eco-friendly and fair trade presents around, for everyone from your nana to your furry friend.
Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth made waves around the world when it burst onto screens in 2006. It won the 2007 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature and spurred the creation of non-profit organisation Climate Reality Project, which unites people around the world to share the message of climate change.
Film is a powerful medium to share important messages about the environment, sustainability and human or animal rights. Here are six documentaries that turn the spotlight on important environmental and ethical issues facing us today. Continue Reading →
Palm oil can be found in every aisle of the supermarket – in chocolate, shampoo and pet food. But the problems with palm oil production is as widespread as its uses. Lindsay Schiffhauer investigates.
If you’re of working age, the chances are you have thousands of dollars at your disposal that could be used to build a better world.
Your superannuation builds up little by little with each pay cheque. Yet many of us are not aware of what the money does before we collect it in retirement. Has it been invested in companies that contribute to climate change? Are we passively funding something that goes against our values? Continue Reading →
We live in a plastic world. Plastic is present at every part of your day – even when you brush your teeth right at the beginning. The problem is that much of it is designed to be consumed briefly but last forever.
It’s disturbing to realise that every toothbrush you have ever owned is still alive somewhere. Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down, although there are new biodegradable options that won’t take quite so long. Some plastic can be recycled, but a lot still ends up in landfill or in the ocean.
There is now so much plastic in the ocean that it is literally creating garbage patch islands.
If you haven’t heard of the ocean garbage patches then you are in for a shock. They are forming where ocean currents meet up and create a vortex that traps floating garbage. Once plastic has entered into the current it will likely end up in one of the many garbage patches.
Both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans have trash vortexes, but the most famous is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is 5 times the size of Queensland weighs in at about 7 million tonnes. About 80% is plastic.
Plastic is finding its way into the stomach of fish and birds, and can have a terrible impact on the ocean wildlife. The impact of plastic pollution of wildlife highlight by the film Midway Point – you can watch it here. Be warned, it’s not for the faint hearted.
One of the best ways you can avoid contributing to these plastic islands in the ocean is to recycle anything you can. But there’s still plenty of plastic that can’t be recycled. The list includes everyday items like coffee cups, bin bags and cling wrap.
Plastic is embedded deeply into our daily routines. Attempting Plastic Free July is an easy way to think about how you can reduce plastic in your everyday life. The aim is to attempt to refuse single-use plastic during the month of July.
The organisers are aware of the challenge – you’re also asked to keep any unavoidable single-use plastics in a ‘dilemma bag’ to share on social media at the end of the challenge.
Some single-use plastics to avoid in July:
- Take away coffee cups (apart from the lids, most cups are lined with a plastic layer to insulate)
- Bottled water
- Plastic bags
- Plastic tooth brush
- Cling Wrap
- Plastic food packaging
See below for our 7 tips on living plastic free.
Speak to you family, friends, work friends, and school or share house about attempting the challenge together. Everything is easier in a group, plus you are spreading the word and increasing the impact!
Attempting to go plastic free isn’t easy, but if we are going to curb plastic pollution this challenge is a great way to start – it allows us to reflect on our consumption habits and look for alternative choices.
6 Tips for avoiding plastics
- Purchase a reusable water bottle and coffee cup. For some reusable coffee cups, have a look at KeepCup.
- Make your own bees wax fabric food wrapping to replace cling wrap. You can try a cheap and easy DIY or alternatively you can purchase some from here.
- Knit your own dishcloths and bench cloths out of thick organic cotton thread to replace synthetic dishcloths.
- Take reusable cloth shopping bags or even a cardboard box when you go grocery shopping.
- Replace your plastic toothbrush with a wooden biodegradable toothbrush.
- Save the weekend newspaper and use throughout the week line your household or work bin with paper.
Try and purchase clothing made from natural fibres such as cotton, wool, bamboo, silk and hemp!
Main image: Mike Nelson / The Guardian
By Imogen Williams
We’re taking ethical shopping to the next level – and we need your help.
Here’s how YOU can help millions of shoppers make more ethical fashion choices.
As members of the Otter community, we know you take your ethical shopping seriously.
Maybe you already know which brands align with your values and which ones to avoid.
But new research from UTS Sydney shows that about 25 per cent of shoppers have ‘mixed feelings’ about buying ethically.
And it found that the most commonly cited reason for not buying responsibly was confusion about what makes a product ethical.
Everyone wears clothes, let’s help them choose wisely
It’s hard to overstate how big the global fashion industry is and how many people are impacted by it on a daily basis.
We’re talking about the second most polluting industry in the world after oil, and the third for climate change impact.
That’s why at Otter’s sister-project Good On You, we’ve spent the last couple of years building an online database of almost 3000 brands – each of them rated for their ethical practices.
Now we want to take it to the next level and make that information easily available to millions of consumers. To do that, we need your help.
The Good On You Ethical Fashion App
The app enables you to search for a product you’re interested in. It lists all the brands near you, shows their ethical rating, and where to buy them.
Or you can search for a brand and see how rates and compare with other brands that do better.
Once you’ve made a choice, the app helps you find stores near you.
It’s Not Just About Shopping
The value of apparel sales globally was estimated to be US$1.2trillion in 2012.
By putting the information in the hands of you the consumer, the Good On You Ethical Shopping Assistant app enables you to make an informed choice about where to spend your money.
If you don’t like what a brand is doing you can take your money elsewhere.
And we know that’s the kind of pressure that forces companies to make changes to their production methods.
Some Brands Are Listening …
Around the world a number of major retailers are already developing schemes to provide consumers with useful ethical information.
Marks and Spencer, for example, highlights which products are Fairtrade, cruelty free or avoid poor labour practice. They are also committed to increasing the number of products with positive ethical qualities.
And just last month, David Jones announced that it was setting a target of making all 1600 brands in its stores sustainable, environmentally friendly, and free of child and slave-labour.
Nobody wants to see another Rana Plaza disaster, where more than 1,000 people lost their lives in the collapse of a Bangladeshi garment factory.
Everyone who creates clothes, sells clothes or buys clothes has an interest in cleaning up the industry and making it fair and sustainable.
It’s Up to Us to Persuade More Brands to Change
Good On You’s mission is to make it possible for you, the consumer, to shop with peace of mind and learn which brands are doing better on the issues you care about.
Please pledge your support for Good On You to help make the Ethical Shopping Assistant a reality.
Together we can harness the power of consumers to change the world.
What’s different about the Good on You app?
- Clothing focus with more than 3,000 brands listed including many never researched before
- Suggests alternative brands that do better on the issues you care about
- Personalised to your values, and you can even teach it your style (think Tinder for brands)
- Tells you the closest stores or online options for your chosen brand
- Makes it easy to give direct feedback to companies from within the app
Continuing the pet theme from our last issue, Alix Foster Vander Elst is here to help you discover some eco-friendly items for your furry friends.
If you’re anything like me, your pet is a part of your family. And you want nothing but the best for them. Okay so I’m not the kind of person to be dressing my beagle up in a diamond studded collar (although she would look FAH-bulous in it!), but I do want to make sure that the products I buy for her aren’t going to do her, or the environment, harm. Sookie has been a part of my family for over two years now and in that time, I’ve been able to build up a great stock of tips for environmentally friendly pet products. Here are my favourite… Continue Reading →
Janene Trickey was one of few reporters on a RSPCA Victoria rescue in January. She recounts what she saw, gives some background on puppy farms, and offers guidance to get a puppy not raised on a farm.
Unable to walk on leads, two smelly dogs with matted fur are carried to a table for examination by Australia’s only forensic veterinarian Rebecca Belousoff.
On 20 January, these dogs, along with 46 other dogs and 21 puppies, were seized from a puppy farm in regional Victoria by RSPCA inspectors. This marked the first time RSPCA Victoria has allowed journalists into their Animal Care Centre. The facility houses animals under protective custody until the legal owners surrender them, or are made to by a court.
A German supermarket chain has introduced a wide-ranging supply-chain policy on animal welfare that may be the most progressive in the world. Sadly, Australia’s supermarket chains are far behind in introducing such measures, despite their positive impact on public health. Continue Reading →