A big focus for me at the moment is sustainability in the fashion world since launching the Sustainable Fashion collaboratory project. I’ve been keen to understand what industry leaders and big brands have been implementing for the future of fashion.

For the purposes of this blog post (and keeping it as short and sweet as possible) I’m keen to highlight just one positive step I witnessed recently that gets us closer to a more sustainable fashion industry: the garment take-back scheme at global fashion giant H&M.
At its simplest, the scheme sees a clothing bin in every store that customers can drop their unwanted garments in for recycling and reuse. Best described in this short (and pretty cool) clip.

H&M, originally from Sweden, claim to be “the first fashion company to launch a global garment collection initiative”. They have some incredible goals to ‘close the loop’ in the fashion industry.

original
IMG_20150909_131838smlSo, given that H&M aren’t (yet) in New Zealand I took the opportunity while traveling in Japan recently to check out one of their Tokyo stores. There I found a collection bin, pamphlets and signage encouraging people to take part in the scheme.

H&M are making considerable leaps and bounds in this space, like committing to 100% sustainably sourced cotton and zero toxic chemicals used in the making of their clothes by 2020.

 

 

H&M Conscious Choice I’m sure much of what you pick up off the rack in H&M presently could be termed ‘unsustainable’ and perhaps not 100% ethical either. This assumption seemed to be confirmed when I found one garment in the store (albeit it a smaller, one level store) that had a tag proudly displayed saying “The Conscious Choice.” Garments labelled in this way denote items from their ‘Conscious Collections’. They want to be transparent for the conscious consumer. Something I wholly endorse as someone that tries to buy sustainably and struggles to identify it whilst in any store!
While 99% of the garments in store didn’t carry this label it’s worth acknowledging the system changes H&M are putting in place behind the scenes that quite simply take time and money.

H&M are by no means the only retailer undertaking this kind of scheme. I also noticed Japanese brands Muji and Uniqlo were advertising similar strategies in store.

Muji

IMG_20150909_131511smlMuji

 

clothing-binI’m yet to find a New Zealand retailer that offers a similar scheme (if you know of one I’d love to hear about it) – but then again we do have clothing bins scattered amongst the suburbs in most towns and cities nationwide. Most clothing bins, unless otherwise stated are managed by SaveMart. SaveMart collect and sort, price and sell the material that gets donated. They aim to sell items that hit the racks within four weeks. The items that don’t get sold are then shipped to Papua New Guinea to be given freely to communities in need (which is a whole other blog post). The clothing that isn’t high enough quality to go on the racks gets made into rags, blankets or insulation – generally overseas.

SaveMart does support charities such as the Child Cancer Foundation. By 2016 they expect to have contributed $3.2 million dollars towards the Child Cancer Foundation through our clothing bin donations.  That’s pretty impressive!

Of course clothing bins aren’t our only options to part with our clothing (should we really need to). There are plenty of great Op Shops, Secondhand or Vintage clothing stores that are doing their bit for sustainable fashion. There are plenty of great local organisations that will repair, mend, take-in or alter your garments if need be.

If you’re interested in further insights into sustainable fashion check out my dedicated Sustainable Fashion Facebook Page and click like to receive semi-regular updates.

 

 

Guest Contributor Emily Dowding-Smith shares with us her nearly plastic-free journey during Plastic Free July

What’s Plastic Free July all about?

4303602_origPlastic Free July is nearly over and here’s my nearly “plastic free” update. My colleagues and I at the Sustainable Business Network decided to try and walk the talk this month, by participating in Plastic Free July.  On the work front that is quite easy. It’s really at home where the plastic heart is for me. Rules of the game in this house were simple – avoid all plastic purchases for the month but keep any wrappers from previous purchasing decisions.  It’s a little cheesy in a “hug a seal” kind of way, but my motivation for taking part is purely ocean focused.  I cringe at the thought of turtles trapped in plastic in the ocean and the knowledge that fish cannot swim backwards, so once inside our plastic pollution, they’re stuck.

How are we tracking?

So far we have bought a block of cheese (which is wrapped in plastic), had a few beer bottle lids (cheeky things, they have a plastic lining!) and my disposable contact lens cases.  The rest of the items that feature in our “Dilemma Box”* are hangovers from former, less thought through purchases, or gifts from people that we inherited, including our house mate’s loot. In our household we decided to include all plastic, not just the recommended single use, in order to better understand our consumer impact.

*A dilemma box is a nice way of collating those little plasticy items and reflecting on them.

Top dilemma items

  1. Plastic wrapping for a pack of EarthCare toilet paper, that’s a tricky one!
  2. Plastic around cheese – we love cheese!
  3. A plastic sleeve that arrived around a card someone sent us. 
  4. A restaurant served us miso soup in takeaway cups, even though we were dining in. Damn we wish it was in bowls…  So the lids made it into the dilemma box
  5. Beer bottle lids have plastic inside, after discovering this we switched to wine. (Not to mix up Dry July with Plastic Free July and complicate life further)
  6. I’m allergic to hard contact lenses, so I use disposables and those nasty little things add up my plastic impact

Key learnings

There is always a trade-off

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tetrapak/5956901663/in/dateposted/A dilemma item for us was milk bottles. We avoid Tetra Pak because this isn’t recycled in New Zealand, so plastic bottles from milk are a common item in our fridge. This month we joined a friend on her milk run. She is part of a milk collective that orders weekly and gets farm gate raw organic milk from Drury, South Auckland, in their reuseable jars. Trade off: For us this meant driving a good 15 minutes from our house to collect milk once a week.  We usually don’t drive during the week so it seemed a little silly that we were suddenly driving for milk! Regardless, Plastic Free July gave us the chance to try raw, local, organic milk and avoid added permeate (watery by-product of milk processing. Some dairy companies add it into milk to dilute or substitute the protein levels throughout the year).

Sometimes plastic is useful: In healthcare products in particular, it keeps things nice and sealed.

Buying in bulk helps to avoid plastic – Photo: Emily Dowding-Smith

We need to be more organised: Glass jars for storing bulk items, buying ingredients to make your own food, like muesli, bread and tortillas, requires a bit of planning ahead.

Non-plastic items are often more expensive: Glass is heavier and more expensive. Even items like soap can be more expensive when wrapped in paper. This is a generalisation but the best example is cheese – we tried to alter our cheese eating habits by purchasing cheese from our local farmers market. But that ends up being $5 per 100 grams for local, organic cheese that I was hoping to be wrapped in paper. It was sold to us in aluminium foil! Oh dear…

There are plenty of plastic free treats available once you start looking - check out these Dr FeelGood ice pops made in NZ - Regram from @DoctorFeelGoodIcePops

There are plenty of plastic free treats available once you start looking – check out these Dr FeelGood ice pops made in NZ – Regram from @DoctorFeelGoodIcePops

You find fun new alternatives to plasticy items, it just might take longer: We made our own tasty granola, discovered cardboard wrapped ice blocks for a treat. And we have also been making our own tortillas from masa flour to avoid buying packaged ones. Fresh is best, super tasty and healthy.

Some things you can easily do without: In our case, yoghurt was an easy thing to forgo this month and we haven’t really missed it.  We haven’t had corn chips either and that is probably better for us!

 

Can you counter-plastic?

plastic offset (2)

Plastic sack found at the beach, an attempt to clean up to offset my plastic dilemma

I tried to offset some of the items in my dilemma box by picking this massive lump of plastic out of Cox’s Bay at low tide. Saving the fish from entrapment and cleaning up the harbour makes me feel a little better about my dilemma box even if it’s not quite the same… but you get my drift.

 

 

 

 

It’s a wrap!

In summary, plastic is everywhere and is damn hard to completely avoid.
It’s in all my electronic devices and items around me. Even if I can’t see it the plastic poltergeist floats in behind my food and health items from the production, manufacturing, distribution through to the shop. Even if I’m not wearing or using plastic directly it would have been involved in some part of my item’s lifetime.

But among all this, as a consumer, you do have the power to cut out the final layer by making conscious decisions.

The boxes that the crates of my bulk binned food arrived in New Zealand in would have been wrapped in plastic, but at least I’m not having plastic at point of sale or risking the wrapper blowing away.  This makes me feel a little better, especially as it’s those items that end up in our rivers and oceans.
The biggest thing Plastic Free July has given us is a discussion point and a way to alter some of our behaviours and check in on our habits, because everyone can improve, no matter how plastic-free their lives are.

 


emily
Emily Dowding-Smith is the Transformation Leader for Restorative Food at the Sustainable Business Network. When she’s not trying to restore our food system and catalyse riparian planting on the Million Metres Streams project, she is a keen diver, bike tourer and ocean conserver recently snorkelling in the Arctic to raise awareness about sea ice melt and the impacts of climate change.

 

Introduction

un-school_fellowship_flyerIn April I applied for the Un-School of Disruptive Design’s 7 Day Leaders Fellowship in NYC.

I heard about the fellowship via Leyla Acaroglu. A prolific sustainability provocateur, designer and sociologist that I first came across in her 2013 TED talk. Her talk struck a chord with me, so I explored her professional work further and have been keeping an eye on the many sustainability projects she’s been delivering. Upon finishing her PhD last year she, with others, established the Un-School of Disruptive Design based in New York City (for now).

I applied, feeling it was a long shot, and was accepted! I was going to New York in June, then not quite two months away!

Right from the beginning of the application process it was clear this was going to be a well thought out, highly specialised and unique experience that I was going to learn a lot from. In the application process we were asked to outline the areas we wanted to be change-makers in. This in itself was a really useful exercise for me. I’m never short on ideas, and to have to articulate the nexus of ideas that have been percolating up top for a very long time into something concrete was really empowering. I had a focus! Or in true Bec style, three main focus points for disruption.

123

 

 

Collect Pond ParkFast forward to my arrival in New York City, and the first day of the Un-School. If ever there was a good omen to start the Un-School off, it was definitely starting at the site of what is now a former, and somewhat problematic lake site. Those that know me well need no introduction to my hobby of standing in lakes for a good time.
You’d be right to notice the lake/pond I’m standing in is pretty darn dry. Well that’s all part of the long history of environmental issues this lake has faced due to a series of not so smart city planning strategies over the course of 200 or so years. But that’s a whole other blog post I’ll save for another time!

pecha kucha photoHaving met all of the 16 amazing fellows (from 12 different countries) and the very talented Un-School crew,  each delivering an introductory Pecha Kucha – the Un-School was officially underway. It’s safe to say I was in awe of the incredible and inspiring change-makers sitting around the table.

 

Format

Before I launch into some of the key (un-)learnings that you’ll be able to trace the threads of through my future projects, it would be remiss of me to not share the unique delivery of the Un-School Fellowship.

First up, the daily schedule. Leyla and the Un-School team very deliberately chose to reveal our daily activities day by day, some of which were still secret like Tuesday’s “Group Secret Dinner” or Wednesday’s “Brooklyn Group Field Trip”. Each day’s schedule was released, with some lingering mystery the night before. I must say to start with this strategy was difficult for someone that’s used to being on the organising side of things and knowing what will happen where and for how long and what I have to prepare beforehand (cough, #controlfreak). But by day two I found this experience liberating. It seems like a small thing, but it was very clever. This strategy ensured our continued focus and ongoing sense of buy-in for the full seven days of the fellowship.

Sidenote: Lets be clear. This approach won’t work for every conference, education setting or fellowship. It came down to implicit trust. We all trusted in Leyla and the Un-School to deliver on the sense of mystery they were creating. And I would argue they blew my expectations out of the water on what unfolded during the course of the week. So if you feel compelled to utilise this technique, make sure you first have trust and that you can fully deliver beyond people’s expectations (which you will have canvased upfront as the Un-School did).

 

Leyla and JasonDelivery of the fellowship was diverse and exciting. Sure we had classroom-esque sessions in our home base for the week – the very welcoming co-working (and so much more) space Centre for Social Innovation.

 

CSI and MeliWe used a new gamification technique by collaborators Bryan D’Alessandro and Eli Malinsky to explore the entrepreneurial environment to reveal the importance of communication and compelling story telling.

We had dinner with the mentors of our choosing in small groups which was a great way to informally trade stories and secrets of success. I was lucky enough to have dinner with the self-professed Monkey Mastermind Lee-Sean Huang of Foossa.

We engaged in peer teaching sessions to understand the ways we can share implicit knowledge and acknowledge this in our storytelling repertoire.

At the end of the week we were thrust into an epic 24 hour design challenge in groups of four fellows, with a clothing manufacturer in Pakistan that is trying to create sustainable points of difference to their buyers (read: big brands). They wanted to reduce their environmental impact, increase efficiency, reduce cost and make better quality products and we were their consultants for 24 hours only. Calling this a challenge is putting it lightly! We literally needed to understand the client’s operating practices, the industry and standards, identify opportunities for them to explore and rap it up in a compelling presentation of which we delivered to the client via Skype. This was a great way for the Un-School to thrust us into utilising the tools, ideas and methodologies we’d been learning about over the course of the week. It is with deep regret I can’t post the 1am video our group took of a dance party we had to wake ourselves up midst 24 hour challenge ;)

We also took field trips to:

BFDABrooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator  – a hub for ethical designers to build successful sustainable businesses.
There we met Teel Lidow, of Boerum Apparel – who are succeeding in fully traceable, ethical apparel, with New Zealand merino.

 

 

HighlineWe got outdoors and undertook a systems analysis of the Highline utilising the systems principles we’d learnt in the classroom setting.

 

 

Prime ProduceThe future site of Prime Produce a modern day guild of social innovators that focus on nourishment rather than the growth economy. We toured their still-being-realised living room and collaboratory (<my new favourite term) with the inspired Chris Chavez.

 

TEDGlobal_2013_universe_final_smaller-1024x683And… the TED 250 offices where we were able to grasp the concept of successful platform building and how applying smart and ongoing leverage points can build a strong brand offering.

 

 

Of course, there were plenty of opportunities for shared learnings between fellows and Un-Schoolers a-like. Just hearing what others are working on and have achieved was a real shot in the arm for each of us I’m sure. After such an intense and brain bending week together I’m sure many connections made in NYC will continue to grow and evolve.  An incredible and defining feature of the Un-School is its focus on supporting us all post-fellowship in our change-making endeavors.

 

 (Un-)Learnings

I’m going to share just four core concepts (via this platform) that I’ll take away from this epic experience. But know that I will be more than happy to extend further upon these if there is any aspect you’d like to probe deeper on!

 

  1. Change-making
    word-play-820x1024Positive change comes about when you take a systems-thinking perspective of the system(s) your target area/concern exists within. Everything is interconnected. The issue you’re trying to tackle is influenced by something and what ever change you make will in turn influence something down the line.
    Successful change-makers use their circle of influence to make calculated interventions in systems and leverage small change for larger change.
    It’s literally as ‘simple’ as that. So long as you’re considerate of all the impacts you’ll cause, intended or otherwise, and are starting from a human-centred design perspective which in essence keeps you focused on the people you’re trying to create change with and for.
  2. True Collaboration
    I’ve always been an avid supporter of collaborative projects. But the compounded epiphany of collaboration came to me (as a relatively risk averse individual – something that I hate to admit) in the way that collaboration allows individuals to take risks together for stronger and more audacious outcomes/impact.
    Having been exposed to so many high quality examples of successful collaborations I’m absolutely fired up for as much meaningful collaboration as is humanly possible both in my “career” and those projects that just don’t fit neatly into a pigeonhole but are none-the-less just as important to me.  So I’ll be actively seeking folks that want to collaborate on the long list of projects I have up my sleeve, but equally I’ll be putting my hand up for projects with collaborators with their own vision that will benefit from skills or perspectives I offer. Let’s collaborate!
  3. Storytelling
    pancakes
    While the importance of compelling storytelling is not a new concept to me the Un-School provided so many opportunities to hear expert storytellers or communicators demonstrate their craft. I’m not a confident public speaker, yet. Though I feel like that might be about to change with some really great examples of so many ways to deliver stories in my now memory bank I feel like my immediate paralysis of standing in front of a group of people may disperse over time with the ability to craft my message into a compelling story. What ever it is I’m trying to communicate it’s just a story. This will take ongoing practice on my part, something I’m looking forward to the journey of mastery. Thanks to all those amazing storytellers out there that make it look so effortless, I hope to join your ranks in good time!
  4. Prototype: quick, dirty and fast (rinse and repeat)
    This isn’t just restricted to testing design ideas. This is for everything. Again, a simple concept that sometimes gets left behind because we wrongfully assume we can guess the outcome of our idea, so why test your assumptions when you know the outcomes already? How wrong this assumption is. I’m definitely guilty of it. Less so in my working life, but in other areas of my life (or as Leyla calls them “side hustles”) I let ideas stay as just that, ideas. The process of prototyping allows you to problem solve on the fly and identify any gaps in your earlier assumptions. You’re already one step ahead having completed this simple, inexpensive processes.

So, where to from here…

In case it isn’t obvious I feel thoroughly re-invigorated from my Un-Schooling.
I am determined to act, practice, prototype, collaborate, share, learn, fail, leverage, tell good stories, make positive change and expand my circle of influence in new and exciting ways, starting yesterday.

I’m actively creating space for the projects I want to see realised, starting with reducing my working hours for workSpace (the day job that I get to work with some pretty inspiring folks) and re-launching my business Sustainable Projects so to share my skills with businesses, communities and individuals that want to deliver resilient and impactful projects.

Sustainable Projects

 

Thanks to Leyla and the Un-School crew and the diverse group of fellows that made my fellowship experience outstanding! You guys rock! 

Thanks heaps for your financial support in getting me to NYC: workSpace, Ma & Pa McMaster! It is massively appreciated and money well spent!

And to Scott for your unwavering support and encouragement! 

 

This is possibly the most important blog post I’ll write all year.

I’m often asked “what can I do that will actually make a difference to climate change?” Sometimes that question is followed up by “that won’t cost me anything,” and “ideally I wouldn’t have to change anything.” While I’m happy to offer advice on the first question it’s typically a bit more challenging to answer with the latter two in mind.

I’m happy to report there IS something you can do that will make a difference. It won’t cost you a cent. You don’t have to change anything. It’ll take you less than 20 minutes. You can do it sitting at the computer. And you can get it out of the way this week.
Sold?
Read on.

New Zealand's Climate Change Target On the 7th of May NZ’s Climate Change Issues Minister, Hon Tim Groser, called for public submissions on New Zealand‘s post
2020 climate change target. The Ministry for the Environment issued a Discussion Document stating “The Government is seeking views on New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change contribution under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This discussion document provides information about the issues and trade-offs involved in setting our contribution and explains how to have your say.”
This is the first time in six years the NZ public have been invited by the Government to consult on climate change.

Why now?

http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/enWell, in November-December of this year there is a hugely important climate change meeting in Paris: the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), otherwise known as “Paris 2015” that 196 countries/states will be coming together in order to

“achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C”

Side note: If you’re interested in reading the authoritative voice on why keeping global warming below 2°C is important you can check out the IPCC synthesis report. It’s a tough read (in more ways than one), but it’s the real deal. You’ll see how great the challenge is to keep global warming below 2°C and how ambitious our goals are going to have to be to achieve it.

Back to why now…
All 196 countries/states that have ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including NZ, are obliged to release what they intend to do towards keeping global warming below 2°C beyond 2020. These intentions are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The New Zealand Government are planning to submit NZ’s intentions in August of this year, and are seeking public input for their formal proposal.

World Resource InstituteThe World Resource Institute outlines (and I’m paraphrasing hard here to keep things succinct) “A good INDC should be ambitious..transparent… and equitable.” They go on to say “An INDC should also articulate how the country is integrating climate change into other national priorities, such as sustainable development and poverty reduction, and send signals to the private sector to contribute to these efforts.”

Okay. Then what?
These intentions will form a new international agreement and according to the World Resource Institute

“the INDCs will largely determine whether the world achieves an ambitious 2015 agreement and is put on a path toward a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.”

So, back to the task at hand.
Where do I come into all this?

We (read: you) have a rare (and very easy) opportunity to let our Government know what the scale of our contribution should be towards this global issue by completing an online submission. I know that you care about this. You’re reading a blog post about it.

Like me, this might be your first submission to the government on any given issue. I can assure you the process is painless, heck even straight forward. So straight forward I’ve been able to summarise it in three steps below.

This is how I recommend you could undertake the submission process:

  1. Read the discussion document here
    This is what our Government believes is appropriate for NZ.
    Consider reading what others have to say on our (NZ’s) contribution and other countries too. Suggested reading below.
    My advice, don’t read this document at face value, apply a critical eye to it – is it ambitious enough?
  2. Complete the six questions on the online submission page here before 5.00pm, Wednesday 3 June 2015.
    If you’re not feeling confident about what you think you should say, check out the “Help with your submission” section below.
  3. Share this process with (at least) one other person you know would like to have a say.
    Easiest way is to share via Facebook

 

Suggested reading/watching:

Help with your submission
Onboard and ready to go, just don’t know what to say?

The following organisations have setup some great tools to assist with your submission (or just submit directly from their websites).

They’ve provided template answers to the questions posed. These are a great place to start, you can copy and paste them and adapt them to your personal point of view. Check them out.

Generation Zero - Fix Our FutureGeneration Zero – Fix Our Future

Greens – Get Loud

… and there are probably others…

Don’t forget the World Resource Institute calls for ambitious, transparent and equitable contributions. If nothing more, ask the government to ensure their contribution is all of those things. (That is a powerful one-liner to submit!)

Alternatively drop me a line, give me a call, buy me a glass of wine, or skype in for a chat about it. You know I’d love to talk about this stuff whether we’re on the same page or not!

I’ve definitely got some opinions on what is presented in the Discussion Document and am happy to share (just didn’t to muddy the waters here!).

Please. Take this easy and free (!) opportunity to show our Government that the citizens they represent think minimising the effects of climate change both now and in the future is important.
Otherwise, how else will the Government know?

 

Earth HourEarth Hour is fast approaching – Saturday 28 March 2015.

You know the one where we’re all encouraged to turn off our lights for an hour on a Saturday night and consider power consumption on a global scale and more broadly our own environmental impact. Yeah, that one.

While Earth Hour gets a lot of criticism (mainly for being slactivism) I wholeheartedly support the movement. Not because of the perceived reduced power consumption for 60mins/24 hours, because really, it’s not about that.
It’s a pretty powerful (I assure you, pun intended!) planet-wide platform that has the potential to get people thinking and talking about their environmental impact in a positive and non-challenging way.

 

So, why should you be vampire hunting next Saturday, or anytime?

Vampire power

Vampire by Alvaro Tapia | http://bit.ly/1Ey6ebv | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Well, strictly speaking you’re looking for power vampires.

These vamps masquerade in the form of your innocent-enough looking electronic devices, sucking your electrical blood quietly – even in broad daylight and especially at night. They’re doing it right now. They do it while you’re asleep, at work, even when you’re on holiday. They’re costing you money, and creating an albeit small, but unnecessary load on the nation’s electricity supply (and I don’t know whether you’ve noticed but we’ve had a significant drought this summer and a fair whack of our national electricity supply comes from hydropower schemes #justathought).

 

 

What’s the issue exactly?

A fair amount of the items you have plugged in right now don’t actually require a continuous supply of power. Think: printers, phone chargers, laptop chargers, toasters, microwaves, media players, washing machines etc etc.
You will have heard of standby power. Most of the aforementioned devices utilise standby power. The device is literally holding power ‘just in case’ you turn it on to use. With some devices this is undeniably useful. Others it’s definitely unnecessary.
Take your printer for instance, if on at the wall, it will likely be in standby mode waiting patiently for a signal to be sent to it for printing today, tomorrow or someday. Meanwhile it’s slowly sucking your blood (sorry, power) and draining your wallet slowly but surely.

 

So, perhaps after you’ve turned your lights back on this Saturday night (or heck, why wait for Saturday?) why not do a quick whip around the house to see what reasonably can/should be unplugged (I’m feeling slightly guilty at the thought of at least my cellphone and laptop charger being unnecessarily plugged in right now… back in a sec!). And setup a bit of a system to ensure you actively and regularly turn these unnecessary items off at the wall.

 

There are lots of lifehacks to eliminate power vampires from your life. Here’s just a few

  1. The ole manual check. Literally flicking switches and pulling power cords.
    Let’s face it. This is time consuming and probably not how you want to spend your spare time. But maybe you can pick two or three things that are easy/could be draining a bit of power (think: TV/anything with a standby light/your cellphone charger) and choose to care about unplugging them when you can, and certainly when you’re heading away on holiday.
  2. #TheresAnAppForThat: Start to build a habit around vampire hunting and eradication. Set a reminder on your phone to start the habit off, or if you’re like me and need a little more active encouragement (and measurability) check out Coach.me (and countless other apps) where you can setup daily/weekly reminders for good habits.
  3. Enlist the best! If you’ve got kids that are old enough to know how to deal with power points safely, get them involved, they’ll be the best vampire hunters ever! And you know they’ll keep you honest!
  4. And possibly the ultimate hack for the modern lifestyle: a smart powerbank.
    http://www.powerwise.co.nz/products/easy-off-auto-power-board.html

    http://www.powerwise.co.nz/products/easy-off-auto-power-board.html

    Just like your existing powerbank, but with better vampire slaying features.
    I was pleasantly surprised to see there are quite a few on the (NZ) market with varying degrees of awesome. Standard features tend to include a socket or two that are always on (for items you don’t want to turn off, think: fridge, home phone etc) mixed with sockets that will turn off with the flick of one switch, or even better with a remote control on the fancypants versions. They’re generally not that much more expensive than your average good quality surge protector powerbank at around the $30-$40 mark. I’ve read a few reviews that claim to save you the cost of the powerbank in the first year of use.
    Check out Jaycar, Powerwise or PB Tech and I’m sure they’re sold in countless other places too.

  5. When buying new hardware keep an eye out for energy efficient or smart devices that keep their blood-sucking to a minimum.

 

So, by all means, do turn your lights off this Earth Hour, while you’re candle-side ask yourself/your family/your friends what we can each do to minimise our environmental impacts. The first step is asking the questions, the second is ongoing action!

This Earth Hour I’ll be celebrating with my brother and his new wife at their wedding! #cantwait
While I can’t dictate what the lighting will be on this special occasion (don’t worry, candles have been suggested!) I will be offsetting the emissions from our 1300 klm round car trip by supporting the Million Metres Stream Project. Because it all counts.

Happy Earth Hour everyone!

I’m always keen to hear how others minimise their power consumption, so keep the conversation going by posting below!

 

Social Plastic® is a simple idea to reduce the need to produce any more virgin plastic (most of which are petrol based products) when recycled and ethically traded plastic is a viable option.

Some clever entrepreneurs David Katz and Shaun Frankson have started The Plastic Bank.

The Plastic Bank focuses on developing nations with high levels of plastic pollution in their waterways and oceans. Locals are rewarded by collecting plastic that is lining their beaches and waterways which provides them with an income/supplementary income. The collected plastic is then turned into viable products, and can be done so within the community with their own opensource recyclebot – a 3D printer that can be used to produce items needed within that community. Or it can be sent to a nearby Plastic Bank affiliated centre to be utilised in many different ways. Companies can then purchase this commodity and make their own products out of it and can promote their use of Social Plastic® to consumers that value non-virgin materials.
Lush (North America) were the first company to trial the use of Social Plastic® for their Charity Pot products.
Katz and Frankson hope that consumers start to request Social Plastic® in the goods that they buy, creating more demand and an ethical and sustainable option where plastic is required.

Check out the three minute clip for an overview.

ethically sourced plastic that helped improve someone elses life and kept plastic from coming into the ocean

– Shaun Frankson

Pretty clever system really: cleanup waterways; create jobs where they’re needed most; create plastic products from non-virgin plastic supplies. #winning

You can follow The Plastic Bank on Facebook and other social media platfoms, here.
They also encourage supporters to sign their digital petition to show demand for Social Plastic® and create awareness of the conscious consumer movement.

And for further food for thought…

Image sourced from: https://www.facebook.com/PlasticBank

Image sourced from: https://www.facebook.com/PlasticBank

 

 

 

 

It’s brunch o’clock on Sunday. If you’re anything like me the decision of where to go for decent nosh can be crippling at the best of times (early morning decision making is not a strength in this household). Or maybe you’re visiting a new city and you haven’t the foggiest idea of where to turn for good food.

The idea of ‘good food’ is of course relative to the person, the situation and perhaps whether you’re suffering from the ‘Sunday-morning-flu’. These days ‘good food’ can mean more than just who in town has the best hollandaise on their eggs benedict.

 A delicious and entirely local dinner from Roots Restaurant, Lyttleton
Good food can be much broader and depending on what you value it can encompass such things as ethically sourced ingredients; free-range and organic options; food that is prepared in a sustainable environment, where waste is minimised and managed smartly; perhaps has sustainably caught seafood on the menu; and ideally uses fantastic in-season, local ingredients.

 

Up until recently it has been incredibly difficult to judge which businesses do well at this stuff. Enter the good folk at Conscious Consumers NZ. These guys and gals have come up with an accreditation scheme to help consumers make more sustainable and ethical choices in the hospitality sector. One of the best things about this system is that it is incredibly easy to use and is *free* for consumers to use. Businesses that sign up and pay the annual fee are are awarded any mix of up to 12 ‘badges’ in areas they can prove they perform in. Ultimately the scheme functions via a *free* app where you can check out who locally (limited cities in NZ currently as they build the brand) is operating within 12 areas of sustainability. These badges fit neatly within three categories,  Smart waste, ethical products and community. This way you can identify the values that you most closely align with, be it organic, eco-packaging or sustainable seafood.

   
 Local  Generosity
     
 BYO containers  Recycling  Eco-packaging  Composting  Eco-cleaners
         
Free range Fair trade Sustainable Seafood Vegetarian/Vegan Organic

Businesses are reviewed annually to ensure they still fit the criteria of the badges they hold. Businesses pay an annual fee to be profiled on the Conscious Consumer website as part of the package. If you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of the accreditation process you can check this out.

Fancy a deal?

On the app you can set your preferences of cities and favourite businesses. From time to time businesses offer rewards or deals to customers that use the app.

Sometimes you’ll see a sign in a shop, usually at the counter with a QR code on it advertising either their business and/or their current deal. 

 

Bravo

This is a great, if not basic, way to identify businesses that share the same values as you and support them with your custom. The app is free and I recommend you give it a whirl. It’s not hugely scientific, but it is evidence based. Personally I think this is a great start in the right direction and primarily exists with the well-meaning consumer (that’s you) in mind.

Conscious Consumer app does the hard work for you!

 

Feel good factor

It’s great to see that these like-minded businesses can measure their positive impacts.

Check out these stats (correct at time of publishing, otherwise see up-to-date stats here)

Each year our businesses spend $1,002,000 on organic food and beverages.

Each year our businesses spend $9,538,100 on local food and beverages.

Each year our businesses save 1,311,300 containers potentially going to landfill.

Each year our businesses help 21,200 animals avoid factory-style farming.

Why not download the app now? It’s available on both apple and android platforms from here

Colmar Brunton conducted a survey in 2014, their sixth, monitoring New Zealanders’ perceptions, attitudes and behaviours around sustainability.
The report published at the end of the survey is a visual snapshot of their findings and is easily digested in infographic format.

#FTW Colmar Brunton!

CB1

CB2

CB3

You can check the report out for yourself here

There were a few pleasant surprises in there for me.

CB4       CB5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some great perspectives that also heartened me.

The future face of capitalism will be defined by delivering value and values.
Those that embrace this reality & adapt will find extraordinary opportunities.
Those that ignore it will do so at their peril.

JOHN GARZONE & MICHAEL D’ANTONIO
The Power of The Post-Recession Consumer

I would definitely encourage you to check out this positive and thought provoking read.

I’d love to hear if anything in particular surprised or struck a chord with you, comments encouraged.

Shake and fold

BY 10 January 2015 Great Ideas

One little innocuous thing we do everyday can have a massive positive impact and it won’t cost you a cent.

All it takes is four minutes of your time now to share in this great, simple idea.

 

 

 

Ecopia Tyres

Tyres aren’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think about sustainability, sure. But when tyres can increase fuel efficiency (sustainability √) and better breaking in the wet (safety √) making a sustainable choice really starts to tick lots of boxes.

These days I try and do a little research on my significant purchases so that I can make good choices. So, when it came time to replace my tyres pre-summer road trip I started to delve into the world of tyres, something I can’t say I had much interest in prior.

One of the first things I look for pre-purchase is which certifications, if any, a product has. I’m slowly learning which certifications are reputable and which are pure and simple greenwashingKeep an eye out on the blog for future posts for how to spot greenwashing.

It actually didn’t take long to find a product that was readily available, not insanely expensive, and carried two certifications that I trust. This product was a carboNZero certified and carries the EECA (NZ’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) energywise tick. Two great trustworthy certifications. The certification process is a whole other (future) blog post, so if you’re interested in the meantime I recommend checking out the last two links. There’s lots of great info there.

The product I chose was a Bridgestone Ecopia tyre, and here’s a summary of why:

  • CarboNZero certification.
    The Ecopia product is the first tyre to achieve carboNZero certification. The certification measures, manages and mitigates the product’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, covering everything from the parts that make up the tyre and production of the tyre, through to freighting it to stores. If you’re interested in exactly what this certification covers for this particular product this is a really interesting read – carboNZero Summary of Certification.
  • Fuel efficiency.
    It may be overstating things, but the greater the fuel efficiency the less greenhouse gas emissions produced per trip.
    Here’s what Bridgestone have to say on the matter:

Ecopia tyres have much lower rolling resistance. Put simply, rolling resistance refers to the amount of force required to power a tyre forward. Reducing this resistance means that less fuel is consumed whilst creating this movement. In fact, independent tests show fuel saving of up to 5.7% compared to a conventional tyre. Watch the video demonstration here.
In turn, this reduces the vehicle’s production of the harmful carbon dioxide emissions that pollute our air and contribute to global warming.

  • Some pretty fancy innovation, again, from Bridgestone:

Creating a low rolling-resistance tyre is a molecular science. In a conventional tyre’s compound, carbon molecules inside the tyre clump together, causing friction and generating heat, leading to energy loss. An Ecopia tread compound features state of the art reinforcement technology which keeps the carbon molecules dispersed, minimising energy loss and friction.

Conventional tread compound        Ecopia tread compound

BS Ecopia compound

Grey dot Carbon molecule                        Yellow dot Ecopia molecule

  • Price. Let’s just say it was in reach, all things in balance.
    I’d love to say this is the cheapest tyre on the market. It isn’t. I struck a really good deal where I felt comfortable parting with my hard earned cash given all contributing factors. Admittedly choosing a more expensive option, even if it is more sustainable, is a fairly rare move for me. But this decision came easy for this Scottish-blooded lass. Mainly because domestic transport greenhouse gas emissions are second only to agriculture in this country. So anything I can do to reduce my transport emissions is significant in lessening my impact on climate change. With a long term view it is conceivable (yet unproved) that I could use less fuel, saving me a little money between filling the tank, which would offset the initial financial outlay made.

And, so far, so good! I’ve already clocked over 1200klm on the open road with them, thanks to the annual summer road trip down the length of the South Island. Keep an eye on the blog for a future post on how I’ve offset my emissions from this trip.

And, if you’re not convinced that Ecopia is for you then I recommend the very useful tool ECCA provides for free that helps find the right fuel efficient tyre for your particular car make and model. It’s super easy to use, you just pop your car registration number in and it does all the work for you. You can find it here.

 


 

Image by Brian J. Matis | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0