6 Questions with the Sustainable Future Collective
We're connecting with Conscious Consumers from across New Zealand to ask 6 questions and learn more about how they think we can all change the world for the better. Register your values and payment cards and help us grow the Conscious Consumers movement here!
Who are you, where are you from and what do you do?
We are a 12 strong team of students (and a recent graduate) from the University of Auckland. We study in a multitude of disciplines including engineering, commerce, science, arts and urban planning. Hailing from Auckland, and across the North and South Islands we come together as a team of passionate individuals who seek to drive sustainability culture and change from the bottom up.
We aim to make a difference by instilling sustainability into everyday life and de-stigmatising it from the ‘tree hugging hippie’ image and into the mainstream. We aspire to spread awareness about sustainability, provide a platform for people interested in sustainability from all backgrounds to come together and push change in living, education and in industry.
What does conscious consumerism mean to you?
Conscious consumerism means to live and consume responsibly. This means choosing goods and services that minimise or eliminate negative impact on people, living things and the planet we share. It means to support ‘good’ businesses who empower positive action, whether it be humanitarian, or environmental.
What are the most important social and environmental problems you think businesses can help to solve?
Humans are the world’s biggest consumers, emitters and discarders. Much of these problems stem from a common destructive root: over-consumption by business. We clear land, destroy habitats, create harmful by-products, and exploit other humans to satisfy the fast moving wants of consumer culture. We believe that positive action comes not only from consumers making responsible buying decisions, but businesses who are fundamentally responsible in the way they design, source, manufacture, sell and provide services to consumers. If more businesses aim to reduce their negative impact boost their positive impact, their suppliers and customers in turn are then able to benefit from making wiser business choices. This culture can work both ways however, and together we can address the real issues industries experience and contribute to being carbon zero, cruelty free, eco friendly, fair trade, supporting workers’ rights, and more.
What do you think consumers can do to have a bigger influence in our world?
Consumers have immense power in influencing businesses in that, every sale contributes to the success of a business. In this day and age, we have fairly large consumer choice and we are capable of saying no to purchasing products from businesses whose products carry a negative impact in any way, as well as reducing unnecessary consumption of ‘bad’ product. For example, when we buy locally made products, we are saying no to the carbon footprint of long-distance air or sea freight that comes with importing goods to NZ from overseas. Indirectly, it’s like you said no to driving your car to work that day - both choices reduce the use of fossil fuels in our world. The number of ‘good’ alternatives are growing and in supporting these choices by purchasing them, we can turn the tables on the market.
The last time you made a ‘conscious’ purchase decision - what did you buy and where did you buy it from?
[Izzie] - I bought pantry food from GoodFor bulk foods refillery - staples like a flour mix, rice, olive oil, corn kernels for popping and of course some coconut rough. I brought some old jars from home with me and filled them up there - no packaging needed! They also sell shampoo in bar-form (instead of liquid in a plastic bottle) and ‘honey wraps’ - beeswax lined cotton which work as a glad wrap replacement for leftovers - so I picked up a couple of those too.
[Dalong] - I recently bought a handmade candle from Sitka Store. They’re all made in-store from local natural ingredients, and once you’re done with them you can take the glass jar back to the store to be re-poured or recycled! Not only will your home space smell great, but you’re supporting a humble local business approved by Conscious Consumers
[Izzie] - I made a burger at home with a store-bought kumara patty by Bean Supreme instead of buying a beef patty. It has just as much protein as meat, tastes awesome and isn’t more expensive. Highly recommend. Skipping meat (especially beef) in just that one meal avoids the output of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, uses far less water, as well as protects our waterways from pollution. Triple whammy! http://beansupreme.co.nz/portfolio-items/kumara-burger/
[Dalong] - I bought one of our SFC shirts - does that count? They’re op-shopped shirts that we screen printed with custom SFC prints, each piece unique. Sometimes the easiest (and cheapest!) way to purchase ‘ethically made’ items is to buy something that already exists. That way there is no carbon footprint involved with transport, packaging or manufacture. We are all about fostering a re-useable economy and culture!
What consumer-oriented technological change are you most excited about seeing in the future?
[Dalong] - We are watching the prices come down and down for solar-powered energy! I’d love to end up living partially off the grid in the next few years and create my own electricity from solar. In addition, electric cars are becoming better and better at what they do. I also hope to see better waste management and recycling systems in NZ, where such a large percentage of waste is currently going to landfill when it absolutely does not have to. Being a sneaker guy, I love Adidas and Parley for the Oceans’ initiatives in producing shoes from recovered ocean waste. I recently purchased a pair of Parley Adidas ultraboost Xs made from recovered illegally dumped fishing nets. Apple is now committing to collecting old electronics and recycling them. It is a dream of mine to see zero-landfill waste solutions come to fruition and feasible implementation during my lifetime and to divert plastic away from our ecosystems. With our newly established partnerships with great businesses such as Innocent packaging, we hope to be the generation that leads the change in producing waste responsibly.
[Izzie] - I recently found out that of NZ’s total waste sent to landfill, ~30% is food waste, but this disproportionately produces ~60% of our total greenhouse emissions. This is because organic matter in landfill can’t break down properly and produces methane, which is over 20x stronger than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere. So I revamped our composting at home! There are lots of biodegradable packaging options coming out (like Ecoware and Innocent Packaging) but NZ needs more end-of-life facilities - that is, commercial composting - to make sure these don’t end up in landfill. I’m looking forward to seeing NZ bringing out kerbside organic collections and pairing this with more and more commercial composting facilities. Plant-to-plant cycle.
Anything else you'd like to add?
We are strong believers that when one person chooses to make a sustainable purchase decision, anything from refilling their water bottle instead of buying a new plastic one… or taking a canvas bag to get their groceries… or buying local at the farmers market… their single individual choice might feel like a drop in the ocean. But 4 million drops in the ocean? That makes waves. Waves that flood businesses with demand for ethical products and vice versa. When businesses see that customers want to buy something, they will supply it. This is the enormous power of the consumer! Ghandi said - “be the change you wish to see in the world”, we think he hit the nail on the head. If you’re a uni student, get amongst our movement! Join the Sustainable Future Collective. If you’re not, do so too. Let’s change the world together.