Don’t you love that wired feeling you get from learning something new? A group of women in Nepal are sharing that kind of lightbulb moment right now, thanks to a vocational program set up by Global Women’s Project in partnership with the Women’s Foundation of Nepal. The Melbourne-based GWP has worked with the Nepalese foundation and industry specialists to develop a six-week electrical wiring training program for women. In a country where traditional gender role stereotyping remains strong, the program will allow graduates to access skills not usually available to them, gain employment, and in addition, begin fixing Nepal’s poor standard of electrical wiring. While the first group of bright sparks is already studying, adding to their number will require some support to the tune of $2,000. To that end, GWP is running a crowdfunding campaign over the next fortnight – head on over to their Chuffed page to find out more, and for a real buzz, make a donation and help a woman in Nepal switch on to a brighter future.
What happens to the discarded plastic that gets into our oceans and waterways? And why, as a nation, are we wasting such huge volumes of food (worth over eight billion dollars a year)? Following their successful crowdfunding campaign late last year, the crew at Sustainable Table have launched their excellent short film Waste Deep, which looks into the ways food and plastic waste can be avoided, as well as the broader environmental and social impacts of waste. This free-to-watch film features some of Australia’s biggest eco advocates such as ABC Gardening Australia’s Costa Georgiadis, journalist Sarah Wilson and environmentalist Tim Silverwood, and poses the interesting question of whether it is truly possible to be waste free. Opening with an examination of how much plastic is found in the average shopping trolley, it highlights just how much everyday behaviours can impact the world around us. As Tim Silverwood says, ‘In nature, there’s no such thing as waste – everything gets returned back to the system. If we want to get serious about sustainability, then it starts with waste.’ Watch the documentary on the Sustainable Table website, and get inspired by those working towards a cleaner future!
Stanthorpe’s annual Apple and Grape Harvest Festival is celebrating the new addition of a Seasonal Harvest program, including tours, dinners and appreciation sessions in 2014. Seasonal Harvest is all about embracing the spirit of the season and connecting consumers with the Granite Belt growers who provide so much of our fresh produce, wine and artisan food products. Between March 6th and 10th, you can take part in one of five programs offered by Seasonal Harvest. Each will see you accompanied by a local tour guide and visiting a range of farmers and producers for a first-hand look at how the industry has changed over the years. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about local produce and get a few tips for growing at home. You might not know it, but much of the Australian fruit and veg sold across the country comes from the Granite Belt region – apart from being the sole producer of apples, it’s also the only spot in Queensland that provides staple crops all through summer (due to its moderate climate), including tomatoes, lettuce and cabbage. The Granite Belt is home to over two-thirds of Queensland’s stone fruit growers and is also where much of our pear, olive, mushroom and berry crops are grown. With all this right in our backyards, Seasonal Harvest is a perfect opportunity to meet the faces behind the food and complete your Peppermint Assignmint for this Autumn!
As Coco Chanel once said, ‘Imitation is the highest form of flattery’, and you don’t have to delve too deep into history to see that designers have long been inspired by the past – often referencing silhouettes and styles from bygone eras. The Fashion Archives, a Brisbane-based cultural initiative, understands and embraces these different cycles of fashion. Their online project is devoted to documenting fashion of the past and present, offering a wealth of inspiration to vintage lovers and makers. The Fashion Archives’ love for historical fashion goes beyond the elegantly cinched waists and carefully tailored outfits – their aim is to re-ignite our true love for fashion and bring back a culture of value and care, as opposed to mindless consumerism. Offering inspiration for DIY and ‘make do and mend’ projects, TFA tries to capture the sensibility of the old days, when garments were cherished for generations. Their site features some great insights from contemporary designers and showcases their appreciation of old school techniques, embellishments and styles. This exciting, unique platform has so much inspiration that, before you know it, you’ll be hassling your grandparents to clear out those dusty wardrobes ready for some re-invention!
The 86th Academy Awards will hit our screens here in Australia on Monday morning, and naturally all eyes will be drawn to the red carpet! This year, Hollywood heartthrob Kellan Lutz has announced he’ll be making his own fashion statement by wearing a sustainable tuxedo made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles – the first ever green tux to feature at the Oscars. Designed by New Zealander Jormnan Dul, the tuxedo is the winning menswear design from the Red Carpet, Green Dress Challenge, a competition that encourages designers worldwide to create red carpet-worthy pieces. As one of the winners, Dul will now be mentored by American fashion designer and artist Jeff Garner, who has won numerous awards for his innovative, eco friendly designs, and was named ‘Eco Designer of the Year’ by GQ Magazine in 2010 and 2012. The Red Carpet, Green Dress Challenge is the brainchild of Suzy Amis Cameron (wife of director James Cameron) who has recently hinted that she may soon be creating her own sustainable fashion line. We’ll be watching in anticipation for any other eco chic designs at this year’s ceremony!
Music can be a powerful tool for bringing us together and, in this case, raising awareness about important issues like the destruction of orangutan habitats in Southeast Asia. Some of Australia’s most talented musicians – Sallie Campbell, Kate Miller-Heidke and Daniel Denholm among them – have come together to write and record a song that brings attention to the problem of palm oil plantations and the impact they have on orangutan populations in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. The catchy tune Nightingale Floor has an eerie and beautifully shot film clip to go with it, which you can view here. It’s subtle – there are no gory shots of destroyed rainforests or orangutan carcases – but the analogy of natural wonders and breaking free from the cages in our hearts is powerful. We don’t want to give too much away, because it’s worth watching for yourself! You can find out more about palm oil and make a donation to the Orangutan Land Trust, who are helping to secure land for the survival of orangutans, here.
You know those clothes that are sitting forlornly in your wardrobe just waiting to be worn again? It’s time to set them free and give them a new life with the help of SWOP in Brisbane’s West End. This little gem situated behind the old Absoe building is a treasure trove of loveliness where you can sell, swap and buy both vintage and modern apparel – and the best part is, you never know what you might find there! Owners Brigid and Bethany were inspired to start the venture after visiting a number of clothing exchanges on their overseas travels. “We’ve always questioned why clothing exchanges weren’t common here in Australia, as a lot of fashion has become very momentary, costly and wasteful – and we wanted to change that,” explains Brigid. “That’s why we took a chance and opened SWOP. For us SWOP encapsulates everything fashion should be: personal, eclectic, loved and inexpensive. Our objective is to create an affordable and sustainable haven – somewhere beautiful clothes can be salvaged traded and bought, slowly eradicating the world of wastefulness, fast fashion and mass conformity.” The SWOP team buys on Fridays, and you can choose to take cash at 25% of the sale price or get 50% store credit to exchange your old threads for new – it’s completely up to you. Check out the selling guidelines on their website, and start ‘swopping’ your way to sustainable wardrobe heaven!
It’s no secret that e-waste is a growing problem for our global community, but much of the environmental and social damage wrought by disused technology items is still swept under the rug. A massive 23 million old mobile phones are estimated to be sitting in homes around Australia, but it’s hard to imagine what the sum of our tech waste might actually look like. This time-lapse video shows artist and environmentalist Chris Jordan creating our largest-ever e-waste artwork using 12,000 old handsets, one for every mobile phone that is sent into retirement each day in Australia without being recycled responsibly. You can see the masterpiece for yourself and even donate your old phone to be part of Chris’ installation when you visit Melbourne’s Federation Square this weekend as part of this year’s Sustainable Living Festival that continues through to Sunday February 23. For tips on how to dispose of your old mobile phone and accessories the right way, visit MobileMuster.
Sustainable fashion advocate and all-round design guru Vivienne Westwood has developed a range of ethically produced bags for online retail giant ASOS. Made in Nairobi by women affected by extreme poverty, the Ethical Africa collection uses recycled canvas, repurposed roadside signs and leather cut-offs to create a range of unisex totes and backpacks, along with a zipped clutch. The partnership is part of Westwood’s contribution to the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a project delivered by the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, connecting fashion brands with artisans in Haiti and Africa. It’s not the first time the designer has worked with the EFI: last year, she made a similar collection of bags for Virgin Atlantic ground staff when she helped redesign the airline’s uniforms to give them an eco twist. Bag one of these beauties for yourself and help support this excellent initiative!
The undisputed queen of statement sunglasses, New Zealand-born designer Karen Walker is shining a spotlight on Kenyan craftspeople for her new collection, Visible. Not only do every pair of specs from the range come complete with a screen-printed pouch bearing a traditional Kenyan design, the artisans responsible for creating the pouches are also front and centre of the campaign, modelling for Walker’s lookbook and press material. Those pictured as the faces of Visible are the machinists, cutters, tailors, metal workers and Maasai artisans from urban and rural Kenya who collaborated on the United Nations’ ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative partnership project. If Karen Walker’s efforts are anything to go by, we foresee a bright future for meaningful artisan partnerships!