Main Menu - New April 14

  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Archive | Fair Trade and Labour Rights

Fast fashion – can you keep up with global trends sustainably and ethically?

The stream of fast fashion hitting Australian shores is about to become a deluge. How do these mega brands stack up when it comes to fair working conditions and sustainable practices?


Photo: Gratisography


The international fashion brands are coming  are here!

Last Saturday, 5 April, international clothing mega-retailer H&M launched a huge store in Melbourne, it’s first in Australia. They’re not alone among the international fast and affordable clothing retailers to take aim at Australia. Japanese brand Uniqlo’s first Australia store is set to open, also in Melbourne, on 14 April, with reports that they have a total of 25 stores on the way. Zara and Top Shop opened stores in Sydney and Melbourne last year, and Forever 21 has announced plans for its first Australian store for Brisbane in mid 2014.

Last year, Otter published a quick review of the environmental and social sustainability of global fashion retailers. With all these new developments it’s a great time to look again at the performance of the major international clothing brands recently (or soon to be) available in Australia. Of course no one has to shop at these brands, so we’ve also ranked one of the most online sites, ASOS, and thrown in some fashion alternatives with good rankings for sustainability. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Put a bit of care into your kitchen with ethical kitchen appliances

Vintage Add (Flickr:Jamie) - source Macleans' - 1960.

Photo: Vintage Add (Flickr/Jamie) from Maclean’s 1960. Copyright. Creative Commons license.


Kitchen appliances – they’re an everyday part of our lives, though we rarely give them conscious attention. Perhaps surprisingly our appliances, convenient wonders that they are, account for a “disproportionately large” amount of energy consumption in industrialised countries like Australia. Other potential ethical concerns include the environmental impacts of the materials used in construction phases, the possible use of conflict minerals, the accuracy of manufacturer’s sustainability claims, water use and the responsibility taken by the manufacturer for e-waste at the end of the product’s life. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Cream of the crop: our eight most popular articles


Sea Otter (Dave Menke/WikiMedia)

Otter is eight moths old today (12 Feb 2014)! To celebrate, we’ve collected our eight most popular posts – its a short cut to the content our readers have loved. The articles and links cover key ethical issues from undies and jewellery to toxic sunscreens, sustainable food and the power of consumers to make change. But our most popular article to date (as a percentage of Otter readers at the time) was mainly about paper …

1. Our interview with EcoBuy’s Stephen Reardon

Stephen speaks to Otter about the power consumers have to make a difference in the world, how to choose sustainable printer paper and the value of owning a keep-cup. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Otter’s top Valentines Day ideas

Couple kissing

Photo: The Royal Library of Denmark

Valentines day is just around the corner. Cheesy shopfront displays are up and florists, jewellers and chocolate retailers are frantically preparing for the rush. Do you hate Valentines day? Thats OK – you aren’t alone there. But if you do plan on embracing the romance this year, here’s some ideas on how you can give valentines day gifts that express your passion for both your loved one and the planet. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Ethical banking: answering your questions

Otter's facebook page

Over the last few months, a number of you, our readers, have contacted us with questions about how to find an ethical bank.

As those readers no doubt know, the way you invest your money is one of the most powerful tools you have to promote your ethical values. As argued by Sam Mostyn at the Otter event It’s up to us:

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. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Nice bling! Feel good with fair and sustainable jewellery


Photo: Diamonds (Flickr/Kim Alaniz)


You’ve probably heard about blood diamonds–whether it be from the sparkling light cast on the issue in the 2006 movie Blood Diamond starring Leonardo di Caprio, or from the media attention that followed. But are diamonds the only minerals which use unethical practices in their sourcing and manufacture? And how do we go about finding fair and sustainable alternatives? A little research with some simple principles in mind can help you find a lasting piece that will make you feel good inside and out.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Picking a gift card or gift voucher

christmas cake

You want to give them a gift they’ll love, but they’re so very hard to buy for. Gift cards and gift vouchers are a handy (and less wasteful) alternative to buying something they won’t like, but how can you make sure that the gift voucher is one that matches your values? Here are our top tips on how to pick safe, green and fair gift certificates. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

How to Avoid the Secret Santa Cringe! – Five tips from Checking it Twice

Santa on a boat

‘Tis the season for Secret Santa– one of those tricky traditions where your regular approach to purchasing might go out the window to stay under budget. Whether you’re buying a $10 gift for someone in the office, or something more expensive for the family Christmas party, here are our tips for a cringe-free Secret Santa

Get organized

The best way to make Secret Santa more meaningful and less wasteful is to allocate gift recipients, rather than doing a gift lucky dip. An even better idea Continue Reading →

Continue Reading