Blog - Corethics

Ethical Christmas; It's More than Stuff

You have so much more to give than stuff! 

Make this Christmas an ethical one.

If you, like me, cringe at this time of year at all the wastefulness that Christmas creates then why not give a gift that is meaningful?

There are so many ways. I’m a big supporter of shopping local, ethical, and global. In the past I’ve gifted keep cups, bamboo straws, Indigenous Australian art and crafts, and ethical goods that boost impoverished communities from Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia. 

 

I have mixed it up and given a card that donates the money spent on stuff to children in need at home in Australia and Indonesia! It is a really great way to start conversations with friends and family about causes you or they care about. Even better when the recipient gets to tell their circles about what they received?! Or more to the point, what they gave this Christmas. A perfect gift for that hard to buy for or someone who has everything!

 

Christmas gives us an opportunity to reflect on how fortunate we are and how much we really have to give. Think about the total amount you spend on gifts? $100? $200? $500? More? That money is meaningful for charities and has the power to change lives today, tomorrow, and for generations to come. 

 

Corethics recently joined the list of Deductible Gift Recipient charities so all donations $2 and above are tax deductible. Just in time for Christmas! Your donations will help us deliver a wastewater treatment facility to a clothing factory in Denpasar, Bali. This will help stop millions of litres of polluted water reach neighbouring communities and farmlands every year!

 

Whether you are religious or not, Christmas carries this sense of love, peace, joy, community, and kindness. If each of us channeled these beautiful sentiments into charitable giving instead of stuff that will end up in landfill, what a difference we could make!

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Affordable Sustainability; Breaking the Barriers to Sustainable Fashion

Are you a consumer aspiring to embrace a sustainable lifestyle but are concerned about the costs? Continue reading to discover how to make sustainable fashion more affordable.

 

 

In a society where mass consumption and fast fashion trends triumph, the call for sustainable fashion practices has grown louder than ever. Research has shown there has been an increase in people's concerns for the environment and a want for sustainable products. 

A study conducted by EY Australia found that 31% of Australians reported sustainability is important when purchasing products. However, despite an interest in living sustainably, there is a behaviour-attitude gap, meaning the number of people who want to purchase sustainable products are not doing so.

Cost is one of the main barriers preventing people from purchasing sustainable products. While ethically and sustainable brands often come with a higher price point, most of the time, this is not true.

Here are 4 tips and tricks on engaging in sustainable fashion practices without the added costs.

1. Be conscious of your buying habits

While sustainable and ethical products may come with a higher initial price tag, they often offer a superior long-term value. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (2022), people buy 60 per cent more clothes but only wear them for half as long. 

This can be explained by comparing two pairs of denim jeans: one from a fast fashion brand, which costs $69, made of 100% cotton and the other from a sustainable brand, which costs $229.00, composed of 80% organic cotton, 16% polyester and 4% elastane. 

The reasoning for this price difference comes down to multiple factors, including fair wages and the size and speed of production. However, the focus here is on the cost of materials. Eco-friendly and sustainable materials cost more. The sustainable brand uses organic cotton, meaning harmful pesticides have not been used in the farming process. These pesticides, typically used to grow cotton, damage the environment by infecting local waterways, impacting the health of animals and workers (McFarlene, 2022). The use of polyester and elastane may not be considered ethical materials. Still, they contribute to the quality and longevity of an item compared to 100% cotton, which results in fewer items produced and, ultimately, less waste in landfills. 

Numerous shopping habits have become ordinary in our society harm the environment and are often not cost-efficient. This is why it is essential to be conscious of your purchasing habits to live more sustainably. Consider asking yourself the following questions:

• Do you frequently buy multiple inexpensive clothing items, which must be replaced often?

• Do you feel the need to purchase clothing to fit in with current trends?

• Are there clothes in your wardrobe you have never worn?

These are all purchasing habits we have all indulged in at least once. However, if you want to make a change to a more sustainable lifestyle, here's what you can do:

2. Invest in buying-high quality sustainable clothing

The money spent on low-cost unethical clothing, which you have to replace every season, could be used to invest in sustainable pieces which are timeless and will last for years, reducing the need to frequently purchase from fast fashion brands. This can not only help you to save money in the long run but also means you're engaging in sustainable practices. 

Various sustainable fashion brands exist, competing with fast fashion pricing for those who are still looking for lower-priced products without compromising on quality or ethics. 

To find sustainable and ethical brands, it is important to do prior research before purchasing. There are resources online that rate the sustainability of brands such as goodonyou.eco. This website allows you to find sustainable brands from a range of price points, and you can also search for brand names to see their rating. However, some tips on how to spot an ethical brand from the unethical are;

• They use organic and recycled materials 

• They are transparent about their manufacturing processes, environmental impact and ethical practices, which may include;

• They have accreditations and certifications

• They will usually only have a few items with limited stocks

3. Upcycle 

Upcycling is both sustainable and affordable as it allows you to use clothes you already own and repair them so they can last you longer or turn them into entirely different pieces of clothing. Not only does this prevent the need to purchase new items, but it also fosters creativity and allows you to create unique pieces. Upcycling has a rich history, with its importance heightened during times of economic crisis, such as during World War II. The war resulted in resource rationing, including clothing. This meant people had to adapt by repairing old clothes and utilising materials around the home to make new ones. This period changed society's outlook on clothing, focusing more on durability over excessive consumption. Today, upcycling is used economically and socially for financial and environmental sustainability and creativity. 

4. Advocate for Transparency 

To make sustainable fashion more affordable and accessible for everyone, it is important to encourage brands to be more transparent about their sustainability practices. By purchasing from sustainable brands and advocating for transparency, fashion brands will be encouraged to compete with the competition by improving their practices. This can lead to discovering new and innovative ways for companies to produce clothing sustainably, leading to more accessible and affordable sustainable fashion. Here are some examples of how you can help advocate for brand transparency;

• Do some research about what sustainable and ethical fashion is

• Engage on social media with ethical fashion and sustainability topics and communicate with others passionate about making a change.

• Contact brands through social media, emails and letters to ask about their ethical practices and encourage them to be more transparent.

• Make conscious choices to purchase from sustainable brands.

• Support not-for-profit organisations and groups like Corethics which advocate for sustainability by volunteering your time or donating.

Sustainable fashion is a collective effort.

The pathway to a sustainable world is through collective action. We all are responsible for doing what we can to help in this mission. The global climate strike in September 2019 demonstrated just how collective action can have the power to create good change in the world. According to The Guardian, it became history’s largest climate change protest. The movement led by activist Greta Thunberg resulted in millions of people from all over the world standing together to demand government action against climate change.

Whilst there can be limitations to living sustainably through fashion due to accessibility and costs, it is essential to acknowledge sustainability and affordability can coexist. These 4 tips are a helpful guide to start embracing a sustainable lifestyle, and through collective action, it can empower us to contribute to positive change for people and the planet.

 

Aleisha Condon

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Raising Indigenous Voices Australia: 26 Jan

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This Thursday 26 January is a public holiday in Australia in recognition of the arrival of the First Fleet. Colonisation continues to have brutal impacts on the lives of our first nations people, one of the oldest living cultures in the world.

Corethics is an organisation whose mission is to raise the voices of indigenous peoples on our shared Planet Earth. I invite you to stand in solidarity with our indigenous brothers and sisters by learning and sharing their culture. There is so much to love and learn from art, music, film, dance plus more. 

 

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Hazardous Chemicals in Fashion Product Life Cycle

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Key takeaways:

Risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals at all stages of product life cycle

Oeko-Tex provides the best ethical standard (hazardous chemicals)

APEOs and APs impair human and fish fertility

Integrate global goal UNSDG 6.3 into business strategy

Greenpeace Detox Campaign provides valuable information to get started

There are thousands of hazardous chemicals that are used within the clothing product lifecycle. The risk they pose to human, non-human, and environmental health is dependent on the amount present (in the sample) and the properties of the chemical compounds (how they interact with other compounds).

Chemicals play a significant role in the manufacturing process from assisting in the fast turnaround of crop production to creating beautiful vibrant and water-resistant fabrics. However, if we are to reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #6 Clean Water and Sanitation then we must make the next decade, the decade of action.

UNSDGs

United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6.3 states:

“By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimising release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally”.

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If we are to meet this goal then we must equip ourselves with the knowledge to take action on protecting our People + Planet. This goal can apply to all stages of the product life cycle from the farm to factory to customer care (washing) and end of life. Fashion labels serious about ethics in their supply chain need to incorporate this target into their business strategy.

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Farm

Pesticides and synthetic fertilisers used in non-organic cotton farming can have trace elements as the product moves along the life cycle.

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To add, denitrification, the chemical process of nitrogen fertiliser where oxygen is removed, consequently turns into nitrous oxide. As this is released into the air it becomes a potent greenhouse gas attributed to global warming. The runoff of fertilisers and pesticides into groundwater supplies and waterways causes environmental destruction. Unsustainable practices are short-sighted. Sure, they can increase crop production, but crop yields will fall as land becomes desolate year on year.

Factory

Corethics is a strong advocate for the use of circular wastewater treatment plants due to their ability to remove hazardous chemicals from reaching the environment (among various other benefits!). The combination of chemicals used in the yarn processing, dying, and fixing process, if not adequately treated, can have lasting impacts on the local environment and human health.

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In 2011, Greenpeace launched their Detox Fashion campaign asking fashion labels to stop hazardous chemicals from polluting waterways. Greenpeace identified 11 priority chemical groups:

  1. Alkylphenols (APs) & Alkylphenolethoxylates APEOs)
  2. Phthalates
  3. Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants
  4. Azo dyes release carcinogenic amines through reductive cleavage
  5. Organotin compounds
  6. Poly- and Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
  7. Chlorobenzenes
  8. Chlorophenols
  9. Short-chain chlorinated paraffin
  10. Heavy metals: cadmium, lead, mercury and chromium (VI)

Take APEOs for example, this chemical is used across several products including wetting agents, spinning oils (yarn and fabric), emulsifier/dispersing agents for dyes and prints, impregnating agents, degreasing agents for leather hides, dyes and pigment preparations, and down/feather fillings. APEOs pose minor threat as they are weakly estrogenic. It is not until they are released into the environment and become APs that they begin to bond with other cancer-causing chemical structures.

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APs have been known to bond with xeno-estrogens. To us humans, xeno-estrogens have endocrine-disrupting effects such as decreased sperm count, and an increase in testicular, prostate, and breast cancer. To fish, birds, and mammals it is toxic, affecting fertility, decreasing stocks and ecosystems becoming impaired.

Customer

Research has found that hazardous chemicals present in clothing can be attributed to skin allergies, carcinogenic causing cancer, and reproductive disruptors. High concentrations of APEOs have been found in greywater after customers wash their clothing items for the first time. The importance of tracing, auditing, and ensuring your products are safe cannot be underestimated. Accreditations that look at human health, as well as environmental impact, provide a wholesome approach to ethics in the fashion supply chain.

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Whether you’re a business owner or customer make sure you take a look at OEKO-Tex Standards.

Closed Loop

Australian fashion waste to landfill is amongst the highest in the world. We need brands to rethink their product life cycle and consider the end of life and how clothing might continue in the cycle. For those manufacturing offshore in developing countries where waste the need to rethink the product. This will not only cut greenhouse gas emissions but will also provide a sustainable future for the fashion industry. With all the hazardous chemical effects on human, non-human, and environmental health we desperately need fashion designers to understand what they are creating and ensure it is doing good rather than harm.

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When we are mindful of hazardous chemicals and detox, we become mindful of water and when we act with ethics in both - we can create peace for our People + People.

Keen to get started on ethics in your supply chain? Book your first free first 15-minute consult today.

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Why urgent access to clean water is so important in Bali during the pandemic

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We all have heard that Bali is a paradise with a very spiritual feel, but beyond the stunning beaches and magical temples, Bali is challenged with immense problems of water contamination after a year of living with COVID-19.

The reality is Bali has a lack of fresh water but that's not the only problem. Bali is experiencing a falling water table, salt-water intrusion, decreasing river and lake water, and land subsidence. When you consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Bali, you can add economic problems. Let's explore this further by focusing on two important areas:

  1. Water and COVID-19
  2. Tourism and economic problems 

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Water and COVID-19

Bali Advertiser and Annals of Tourism Research show the lockdowns affected water distribution from outside the island and now more than ever access to safe water is critical to the health of families in Bali so they can prepare and protect themselves from the COVID-19 pandemic and other diseases. 

 

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Tourism and economic problems 

Tourism is the main source of income in Bali. In 2019, tourist arrivals brought in 6.2 million dollars while in 2020 just brought in 1 million and more than 90,000 people employed in tourism lost their jobs. 

We should remember that for people on the island it is really important to have access to clean water because it is basic for growing food and surviving.

We invite you to be a part of the solution and join us to make a difference in the lives of our neighbours in Bali. Support Corethics to deliver: education, innovation and tailored environmental and social solutions.

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Dalila Chagoya

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Why #Water4Bali is a Story of Tourism

From water depletion to water pollution, understand why and what you can do.

10 minute read

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Aussie travellers were in the top 3 most frequent flyers to Bali, Indonesia. This is important because 80% of Bali’s economy relies on tourism, and tourism uses 65% of Bali’s depleting water sources. And, when you consider that 60% of Bali’s water table is declared dry you can start to put the pieces together as to why clean #Water4Bali is every Australian and every tourist's responsibility.

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Image @CassieGallegos on Unsplash

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6 Ways to Start Ethics in Your Supply Chain Today

So, you’ve been thinking of how you can become an ethical, sustainable, or eco-fashion brand? There is no hard or fast way to guarantee ethics in your supply chain.

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Why prioritising green manufacturing in the developing world will create lasting change

Climate change is here right now and manufacturing is affecting and helping at the same time. Affecting because the sector consumes lots of energy and other resources and emits large amounts of greenhouse gases which exacerbate environmental problems.

Photo @Pixabay

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