It’s Recycling Week! What better time to discuss how and why the global issue of waste and recycling is important in New Zealand, what you can do to give your waste the best chance of being recycled, and how this fits into the bigger concept of waste minimisation!
The day has finally arrived - we’ve launched in the UK!
In the early hours of this morning, our Co-Founder and CEO Ben fittingly introduced Conscious Consumers to the world at the opening of the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) in Scotland. Yahoo! We’re so excited we almost broke out the piñata (but elected not to because, you know, waste). Not only are we now starting to connect London consumers and businesses for the good of people and planet, we’re doing it with a swish new look and a new name: CoGo
That’s right, we’re changing our name! We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to develop CoGo - the evolution of the Conscious Consumers brand - and we are stoked to finally be able to share it. It’s different for sure, but to explain why we think this move was needed, our CEO and Co-founder Ben puts it best:
Check out the new CoGo UK website here to see the growing list of London businesses who are already jumping on board!
We’re giving the UK a taste of CoGo first, but don’t worry Aotearoa - you’re our first love so you’re definitely not missing out! This Summer, you’ll see us rolling CoGo out across New Zealand (in fact, we’re hoping that you won’t be able to miss us ;)). Even with a fresh face, we’ve still got the same impactful mission to connect consumers and businesses for the good of people and planet.
We’re excited about all of the good things that are on their way for Kiwi businesses and consumers - a new brand, website, values registration and consumer mobile app. In the meantime, we’ll keep on doing what we do best as Conscious Consumers - showing you, our community, how you’re working together to change business for good. If you haven’t joined us yet, what are you waiting for? Jump aboard and give your values a voice!
Do you have someone you know in the UK who wants to help businesses do better? Share our good news on your own social channels! To stay conscious yourself, connect with our NZ channels below:
By Frederique Gulcher of My Good Emporium.
Winter is all about warm fabrics with wool the must-have for our winters, whether you’re hitting the snowy slopes of Coronet Peak here in Queenstown, or just need a great top for a coffee date with friends on a cold day. Denim and feather down also do the trick. But just how eco-friendly and ethical are your winter threads. There are lots of materials suited to winter, but my top three are merino, down and denim. Here’s my 101 on how eco-friendly and ethical they are.
Merino is the best wool you can buy. As well as being breathable, anti-bacterial and anti-wicking, it is light-weight, soft, and suited to warm and cold. It makes sense – merino station farms are located here in Otago and Central Otago with sheep surviving harsh cold winters and fiery hot summers.
I put merino to the test last summer when I walked the iconic Routeburn track over 3 days. The result – I was warm, dry and not smelly! Now, that’s impressive.
Merino is incredible, but for me, the products I chose need to demonstrate ethics that extend to the animal’s welfare. Ice Breaker, for example, have their own ethical pathway called The Four Freedoms. It dictates that wool farmers provide sheep with adequate water, nutrition, free to roam open pastures, shade and shelter at all times, and disease and illness prevention and treatment. Mulesing, the cruel practice of removing fleecy skin from sheep without pain relief, is not permitted by Ice Breaker either.
Although it is best known for outdoor functionality, New Zealand merino is common in high fashion collections too nowadays. I particularly like these merino wool skivvys from NZ-made Ruby’s Autumn Winter line and Mandatory’s collection of NZ-made knitwear for the blokes. For the little ones, you cannot go past Nature Baby, the iconic Kiwi baby brand that uses chemical-free organic cotton and merino.
Wool is natural and therefore biodegradable, although dyes might not be. Look for brands that use natural colour or low impact dyes or that have responsible waste and water management processes as part of the production.
Did I say it gets cold here in Queenstown? Yes, I did. To ward off the worst of it, I bought a down jacket a few years ago. It’s like wearing a duvet! But, with down feathers also coming from animals - the undercoating of waterfowl such as geese – ethical considerations are important here too. I was delighted to learn about Track My Down, a supplier tracing system, before I bought my puffer. Following my Track My Down code I was able to see the source of the goose down and how ethically it was produced.
Brands with a responsible ethical stance might also be certified through The Responsible Down Standard (RDS), a comprehensive, global third-party certified animal welfare and traceability standard.
Ethical criteria look at the way animals have been plucked (alive or dead), or in relation to the primary farming purpose, for example the making of Foie Gras, the pate made of the duck/goose liver that has been specially fattened, a controversial practice.
Guess what? Our very own Kathmandu down products are all certified under the RDS. Cool!
Imagine a world without Denim?! Boring!! But as much as we love denim, production is synonymous with synthetic petrochemicals, bleaches and acids and polluted waterways. It can also be a highly water-intensive process, and in the case of fade washing, dangerous to garment workers who often work in unsafe, poorly ventilated spaces without proper respiratory guards.
The good news is that they are a number of brands using sustainable processes, with production that includes recycling water, using organic cotton (yes, denim is made from cotton), conventional indigo dyes, biodegradable polymer, being produced in safe working facilities offering makers a living wage. Some, like Mud jeans in the Netherlands, even take your old Muds back for recycling.
Back at home, New Zealand’s Recreate has a great collection of dresses, tops and pants (for kids and adults) in either a distinct pitch black or light blue denim wash. It is organic, fairtrade and sourced through the Better Cotton initiative, a global standard and investment fund for more eco-friendly and ethical cotton production. I’m a real fan for the quality and cut of their clothes, as well as their ethics.
Denim is long-lasting, and this makes it a great environmental choice. My parting tip with denim – don’t wash your jeans after every wear. Try three wears to every wash, and just spot fix conspicuous marks for an even longer life.
No need to suffer for warmth
Whether you’re in need of some extreme warmth for alpine environments, a trendy top or jacket for a night out with mates, or a just an every-day comfort puffer, there’s no need to change your ethics and environmental considerations to keep warm.
From organic denim, to responsible down, to happy sheep, these Conscious Consumer brands will keep your values, your temperature and style in check.
We have a list of businesses that are committed to sustainable practises, including some of those listed in this article. Sign up here to join the Conscious Consumers community and find businesses that are doing their part to be kinder to people, planet and animals.
By Mary Searle Bell
Plastic Free July sets us the challenge of cutting the plastic from our life. The goal is to dramatically reduce plastic use around the world, creating a cleaner planet for the future. The catchphrase is ‘choose to refuse’, in other words, say no to plastic.
Sounds simple, right? It should be… but plastics have an awful habit of wrapping themselves around everyday objects and working their way into your shopping.
We all know plastic is bad for the environment – it gets into the ocean and kills marine animals as well as taking forever to degrade. Adding to the pressure, recyclable plastic is fast losing its charm as the export market for it has collapsed – China is not accepting the levels of recyclable waste that it used to – and we’re not set up to do it ourselves.
However, this recycling crisis does provide a push for us to change the way we do things. To move to a better, healthier and more sustainable model. One that is plastic free.
It can be difficult to know where to start so we’ve made a list of some of the unnecessary plastics that you should try to cut from your regular shopping, and offer sustainable alternatives which will do the job just as well but are kinder to the planet.
We know the idea of cutting plastic can seem overwhelming. But how about simply starting with one or two things, and then take it from there.
Here are some ideas to help you kick off Plastic Free July, and a more sustainable lifestyle!
Ditch plastic straws from your takeaway soft drink, smoothie or pretty cocktail. Plastic free alternatives range from cardboard, glass and stainless steel reusable straws (which come with a handy, tiny brush for cleaning) to simply using your lips in the original drinking method!
Single use plastic shopping bags are on their way out. Supermarkets and big chain stores like Mitre 10, and even whole towns such as Martinborough, are opting for more sustainable options. Recyclable options such as boomerang bags are increasingly common, or you can make your own cotton bags. Alternatively, simply use boxes, baskets, or any old bag you have lying around. It doesn’t really matter what it’s made of, the most important thing is to reuse it as many times as you can.
Avoid products with unnecessary plastic – prepackaged meat and deli products often come wrapped in ridiculous amounts. Fruit and vegetables too, many of which grow their own protective wrapping anyway. You’ll find specialty stores and farmers markets often use less packaging.
If you regularly buy takeaway coffee, invest in a reusable coffee cup. Alternatively, if circumstances allow (or you don’t mind living dangerously!) get your takeaway coffee without the lid – that’s the bit that’s problematic.
Instead of single use plastic bottles for water, milk or soft drinks, choose liquids that come in waxed paperboard cartons or glass bottles.
Many grocery items can be purchased without any packaging when you shop at bulk food stores. Simply take your own reusable containers to fill.
If you are in the supermarket, opt for products that come in cardboard packaging over their plastic-wrapped competition. And look for products sporting an eco-packaging badge – this means it will be reusable, compostable or recyclable.
Cut plastic from your bathroom by switching to solid bar shampoo and conditioner, bamboo toothbrushes, silk dental floss, loo paper that comes packaged in paper, and menstrual cups instead of tampons.
In the kitchen, you can ditch plastic by packing lunches in reusable containers or fabric wraps, this works for keeping leftovers too – beeswax cotton wraps can be composed once they finally reach their use-by date. Green Elephant offers a number of sustainable lunch packaging options or you can easily make your own beeswax wraps.
We have a list of businesses that are committed to sustainable practises, including those offering plastic-free alternatives to everyday products. Sign up here to join the Conscious Consumers community and find businesses that are doing their part to make it easier to be kinder to the environment. Look for businesses with our ‘BYO’ badge - they encourage and incentivise customers who BYO cups, containers or (if applicable) reusable bags.
BY Virginia Woods Jack from Lightwood Studio
As you walk up the stairs to the home of Good Fortune Coffee Co housed within the ever-popular Seashore Cabaret in Petone you are greeted by the many familiar sounds of coffee making. The clattering of cups as they are lifted from the warmth of the coffee machine, the grinding of the coffee and whirring of the machine as the coffee is pulled to perfection. The hissing of the steam the snapping thud of the milk jug banging on the counter settling the milk to create the perfect flat white. I order my own favourite take out coffee, a flat white, and take my seat whilst I wait for owner Matt Wilson to chat about Good Fortune’s latest accreditation of becoming a Living Wage employer and why this is so important to him.
Started just over two years ago Good Fortune is the first coffee roaster in NZ to become a Living Wage accredited employer. Matt explains it was his intention from the start to create ‘a very caring coffee company’. Only roasting 100% fairtrade coffee beans brought to NZ by Trade Aid ensures that the farmers and co-ops involved are paid fairly and that more of the money goes back into great initiatives that Trade Aid support.
The team at Good Fortune Coffee Co is a small one, so Matt openly admits that making the choice to be a Living Wage Employer wasn’t hard particularly but it was important. The margins in coffee roasting allow for a Living Wage and believes that this it true for many businesses and hopes that more will follow suit. Matt isn’t limiting this approach to only The Good Fortune Coffee Co, he is also implementing the same approach at The Seashore Cabaret with 60-70% of the payroll now being either on or above a living wage a 100% target of March 2019.
“This isn’t an easy task in an industry like hospitality where a lot of staff are paid the minimum wage but once I was aware of the living wage movement I knew I wanted to pay people properly, that it was something I could be really proud of and at the same time prove to other businesses that it is possible. You can run a successful business and still pay people decently.”
- Matt, Owner, Seashore Cabaret
This sentiment was reiterated by Joyce Tung one of the baristas. In her early 30’s she has been in the coffee business for nearly half her life and this is the first time she has been paid a living wage, she explained “I now feel that my experience and skills are being valued… I can now look at this as a career path and I am enjoying being able to save and think of my future, being paid a living wage feels like it has opened up opportunities I never had before”.
Matt explains that there are steps you can take as an employer to encourage businesses you contract to adopt the living wage. They negotiated with the cleaning company that the cleaners they send are paid a living wage for the time they spend cleaning for them. What a great way to step into this arena and garner support for this movement.
The Living wage movement is gaining traction, as Matt explains “It’s great having other brands like Fix and Fogg involved as it gives a great marketing edge and it’s a great community where we all support each other where we can, we offer a discount to all living wage employers on our coffee. We've had the Living Wage on the coffee bag design from day one as a bit of marketing and to raise awareness as a lot of people still don’t know enough about it.”
Matt applauds the current governments plan to raise the minimum wage to $20 by April 2021 and joins us in the hope one day we won’t even need the Living Wage accreditation. Until then let’s get behind the business that are making that choice to invest in their staff and encourage more to take this step as this isn’t just an investment in people but in society as a whole and one that we at CC support wholeheartedly.
What is Living Wage?
The Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ state that: 'A living wage is the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. A living wage will enable workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society. We call upon the Government, employers and society as a whole to strive for a living wage for all households as a necessary and important step in the reduction of poverty in New Zealand.'
By Frederique Gulcher from MyGoodEmporium
Autumn is definitely here! Down in Queenstown the leaves are turning rust orange ready to fall from the trees, and the mornings are colder and darker. But with the afternoons still warm, layers and accessories are essential. It being New Zealand, the four seasons in one day phenomena is not limited to the central South Island.
If, like me, you’ve been scrounging around for your cool-weather warmers, and are less than impressed, it may be time to inject something new into your collection.
As much as I love fashion, I try to keep my consumption limited, and choose labels that have great sustainable and ethical credentials. Often instead of buying an entire new wardrobe each season, I invest in a few new accessories, giving me options to dress an outfit up or down, layer for extra warmth and just embrace the whole Autumn thing!
Here are my top 7 sustainable Autumn accessory picks
A scarf never goes out of fashion.
Why? Because of its versatility. A scarf can be pulled in on colder days or draped loosely as it warms up. ReCreate have a lovely handwoven scarf, made from 100% natural handwoven cotton and dyed with organic, plant-based dye. Not only is this a classic style, but it’s ethically created in Cambodia under excellent working conditions, providing fair employment and life-changing training opportunities. Nice one!
Rain in the morning, sun in the afternoon… I need a hat!
Perhaps you’re still rocking your summer trilby, but if you want to get intrepid and go for a long walk or a tramp, you’ll need something a bit more suitable. Autumn is a great time for hiking our beautiful country, so invest in a beanie, like this unisex Oasis beanie from Ice Breaker, made from merino wool.
Something to carry it all in.
That’s the thing about Autumn. It can be crisp and fresh one minute, warm and balmy the next. You’ll need to carry layers! Duffle & Co, a young Kiwi brand, have a beautiful collection of B-Corp Certified, fairly-paid, hand-crafted duffle and tote bags, backpacks, satchels, sleeves and handbags. They also support KiwiHarvest to help feed families in need and Million Metres, who plant trees to restore our waterways. That’s pretty special, I reckon. The Arbuckle backpack looks big enough!
You’ll need something to hold up the trousers you dug out of the cupboard. This braided leather one from WE-AR caught my eye because it’s the kind of belt you might wear even when the fit of yours is perfect.
To best savour the last few remaining warm autumnal afternoons of impromptu afternoon beach walks, al fresco tapas and drinks in the courtyard get some stylish eco eye wear. For men, Proof Eyewear from Mandatory has a great collection of polarised lenses. They are hand-made from sustainably sourced wood, recycled aluminium cans and cotton acetate.
I find that in summer, I accessorise less because I wear less. Somehow hoop earrings, beads, chunky bracelets just fit Autumn and layered outfits better. Channel your inner-boho and check out the Trade Aid store collection. I like this Green tassel necklace handcrafted by artisans working with TARA (Trade Alternative Reform Action) Projects in India offering employment to the economically marginalised.
Doug. What is Doug?
I stumbled upon this versatile little doo-da at Tummah Ethical Trade store. It’s a cloud-shaped, upcycled soft spongy motif on a cloth band that can be tied as a bracelet, a hair tie, or even a great wee badge. It’s by No Nasties, a 100% organic, 100% fair trade fashion brand based in Goa, India. I love this because it’s not just about fashion - Doug the Cloud is the mascot for an awesome non-profit project providing additional income to cotton farming women of India who make them. Tummah (and No Nasties) have some fantastic other clothes and accessories. Go and take a look.
Minimising packing and waste is the issue most Conscious Consumers care about, so it's great to see businesses taking the lead to reduce waste, just like Amanda Elliot from New World Island Bay.
New World Island Bay have introduced reusable produce bags to cut down on the amount of plastic that gets thrown away and work towards a more environmentally-friendly supermarket. These colourful bags are perfect to put your fresh fruit and vegetables in, and a great replacement for a single-use plastic bag.
They are embracing sustainability in plenty of other ways as well; they only stock cage free eggs, recycle 90% of their waste and have switched to LED lighting across the store. They are also part of wider New World initiatives, including banning microbeads from all of their products and switching to 100% recyclable meat trays.
“We want to work with our customers to reduce the number of plastic bags we use as much as possible. Many Island Bay customers are amazing with the use of re-usable shopping bags and we saw this as an opportunity to encourage customers to start bringing reusable bags for individual products as well.”
– Amanda Elliot, Owner Operator at Island Bay New World
We need to do better New Zealand!
A new report has labelled New Zealand the most wasteful developed nation in the world, with over 30% more waste per capita than the United States, and more than double the waste per capita of the United Kingdom. We produce on average 3.7kgs of waste per person per day, and take home about 700 million supermarket bags a year, enough to cover the Auckland CBD 29 times.
There are heaps of ways we can each make a difference and reduce the waste we create - and using reusable bags at supermarkets is a great start! Together, with the support of businesses wanting to make positive change, we can do this. Come on NZ!
Duffle&co is one of the first brands in New Zealand to start using pineapple leather. This innovative material is completely vegan, durable and is made from pineapple leaves, which would otherwise be wasted after harvest. It also creates a secondary source of income for pineapple farmers in developing countries who otherwise rely on seasonal work.
As they develop, duffle&co are actively looking for more sustainable materials to use when creating products. Pineapple leather stood out not only for its sustainability factor, but for the positive impact it has on local communities. They're not stopping here though - they are currently looking to reintroduce hemp, bamboo and recycled materials into their product range, alongside pineapple leather and organic cotton.
"We love it because of its sustainable nature and the fact that it supports local communites around the world, which is a huge driver for our brand."
- Freya Lewis, Operations Manager, duffle&co
What is Pineapple Leather?
Pineapple leather is made from the leaves of the pineapple plant, which is a by-product of the pineapple industry. The raw material does not require any additional resources to grow and is free from pesticides and chemicals, meaning it does not harm people or the planet in the production process. Its strong and lightweight nature makes it a versatile material that can be used for furnishings, bags, shoes and other products.