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27
Mar

Earth Hour 2015

One of the year’s best-loved environmental campaigns is upon us again. This Saturday March 28 at 8.30pm, it’s time to switch off the lights and reflect on climate change for Earth Hour 2015. More than 170 countries are set to participate in this year’s event which has special significance, taking place just days before a deadline for UN-member states to submit their carbon-curbing pledges ahead of a December summit where new carbon-reduction targets will be laid out. Show your support this weekend by participating in one of Earth Hour’s registered events – perhaps by dancing in the dark at a No Lights No Lycra party, happening in most capital cities. Or you could get behind WWF’s Save The Ales campaign, which highlights climate change’s threat to declining cereal crops in an appeal to brew-loving Australians. It’s not too late to register your own picnic, camp-out or cook -up – check out Earth Hour’s tips for marking the occasion and don’t forget to switch off tomorrow night!

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25
Mar

Toms

Their ‘One For One’ model for selling slip-on shoes made them famous, now social enterprise TOMS have launched another line of accessories with a surprising flow-on effect. For every duffel, tote or clutch purchased from their new bag collection, TOMS will match it by providing a ‘safe birth kit’ to a healthcare professional in a developing country. Buy a bag, and you could be contributing to the safe delivery of a baby in Bangladesh, India, Haiti or Ethiopia. The kits contain gloves, soap, gauze and other supplies, and will be donated to grassroots programs such as BRAC and Ayzh, who will also benefit from increased training for birthing attendants. Bags may be the latest addition to the TOMS’ portfolio but this isn’t their first step away from footwear – if you’re a fan of the One For One model, you can cast a vote for conscious consumerism by purchasing TOMS garments, eyewear, and even coffee.

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24
Mar

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After years of working in the beauty industry, Nina Weston decided to reconcile her desire to live healthily and sustainably with her love for luxurious makeup and skincare – so in 2013, she founded BeautifulBecause.com.au, an online eco chic store and guide stocking the finest natural beauty brands from Australia and beyond. We caught up with Nina to discover the story and inspiration behind her business and her top tips for environmentally conscious beauty …

What inspired you to start Beautiful Because?

Working in the beauty industry, I spent years trying every brand I possibly could before realising that most are tarred with the same toxic brush. I strongly believe we shouldn’t have to fear the chemicals in our skincare and became frustrated by the major players caring little about the end user or the processes involved in manufacturing their products (be it environmental impact, animal testing, etc.). Natural brands tend to take a holistic approach to their formulas and consider the effects of their products both on one’s health and the planet; it’s this that led me to go green. I made it my mission to find sophisticated brands I could wholeheartedly advocate, and, impressed by how the products felt and performed on my skin, I decided to use my online experience to create an educational platform for them. Beautiful Because stands for beauty that’s better – cleaner on so many levels.

How has the business evolved since its early days?

Quickly! We only launched in summer 2013 and have a loyal and growing customer base who love our personalised service, which includes complimentary samples and exclusive offers, as well as advice we share through our Green Beauty Guide. One of the challenges I’ve faced is scaling the business while keeping the personal touch. Having launched with Australian natural brands, we are now starting to stock the finest natural brands from across the world. We’re always looking for opportunities to help our customers and streamline their online shopping experience, making it easy and enjoyable. {continue reading…}

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20
Mar

Yevu

There’s no mistaking the bold colours, exaggerated motifs and eye-wobbling designs of Kente cloth. Inspired by West African street style, Yevu pair traditionally made cloth with modern tailoring to connect makers and buyers across the world through a shared appreciation for beautiful prints. Australian designer Anna Robertson dreams-up Yevu’s limited runs of dresses, skirts, tops, trousers and jackets before the garments are manufactured ethically in Ghana, all by hand to help support grassroots industry in Accra and directly benefit Yevu’s small team of skilled seamstresses. Usually found online, Yevu’s second bricks-and-mortar shop is now open, but there are only a few days left to catch the pop-up on Fitzroy’s Smith Street before it disappears. Rush in to sort out a winter statement piece or practice some power-clashing with layers of graphic and geometric prints, all rendered on handwoven cotton in a riotous palette.

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18
Mar

Target Collective

They’re one of the world’s biggest retailers, and now Target US have broken away from the fast-fashion pack by launching their first line of locally made garments and accessories. Teaming up with six iconic made-in-the-USA labels, the limited edition Target Collective range has been introduced to stores to showcase quality, workmanship and sustainable manufacture. Interestingly, the collection is targeted at a male audience, and includes button-down shirts, hand-tooled belts, and unisex luggage and outdoors gear. Now making headlines for the right reasons, its a turnaround from 2013 when Target were infamously linked to the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in Dhaka. One of the first companies to sign onto the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, since then, Target Australia have been rounding-out their ethical sourcing and transparency policy, and recently made news when they published part of a list of manufacturing partners online, prompting Oxfam to praise the retail giant as a trendsetter in the move towards greater corporate responsibility. But with 47 individual factories already named in Bangladesh alone (and a comprehensive global list yet to be released), the scope of Target’s manufacturing is huge, and full transparency remains a challenge. Will Target Australia follow cue and pursue the same local production values as their US partner?

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13
Mar

Uber

International Women’s Day may be over for another year, but amidst calls to make every day a commitment to furthering rights and celebrating gender diversity, Uber has partnered with UN Women, promising to create jobs for 1 million females worldwide by the year 2020. The popular ride-share network, which links drivers and passengers for short car journeys via smartphone, currently operates in 54 countries. Since it was founded back in 2009, the app has received criticism for drawing business away from the taxi industry, but in the US, where only 2% of taxi drivers are women, Uber already seems to be making strides in gender equality – female drivers currently account for 14% of Uber’s workforce there.

So, can the rest of the world follow the US’s lead and boost the number of paid women behind the wheel in just five short years? It’s possible, Uber says, because of the easy-to-access nature of their employment opportunities (all you need to become a registered Uber driver is a car under 10 years old and a ‘clean driving record’). Uber also promises greater work flexibility for women with children and family commitments, and to provide entrepreneurial avenues to those who may otherwise be excluded from the mainstream workforce (unless you live in Saudi Arabia, where it is illegal for a woman to carry a driver’s license). But the things that make Uber accessible to some can also make it dangerous, causing critics of this new initiative to raise concerns over the safety of female drivers and passengers alike, as well as the unregulated nature of Uber earnings, which often fall below the minimum wage. Paving the road for more women to seek gainful employment outside the home will involve managing these challenges – only time will tell if Uber and the UN can arrive at their ambitious target.

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11
Mar

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Many people know them as an opponent of the Australian Container Deposit Scheme, so it may surprise you to learn that Coca-Cola are now spearheading one of 2015′s biggest eco-fashion collaborations. And as various media outlets are reporting, it isn’t a PR stunt dreamed up by the soft-drink giant, but rather began when Coca-Cola were approached with a rather unique partnership opportunity. Following the footsteps of fellow musician Pharrell Williams, tech entrepreneur and philanthropist will.i.am (of Black Eyed Peas fame) is the brains behind Ekocycle, a new consumer initiative devised in response to global waste issues. Two years after he first pitched Ekocycle (notice the first part of the name is ‘Coke’ spelled backwards) to the business partner he had in mind, Coca-Cola has come to the table to lend the Ekocycle juggernaut an extra shot of star power. {continue reading…}

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10
Mar

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Calling all creatives: artists and designers around Australia and the world are being invited to submit original work for Reart, an innovative exhibition that will celebrate the launch of the inspiring sustainability book Retrash (which features the work of 82 artists and designers from 20 countries) and the 45th anniversary of Earth Day on 22 April, the same day the exhibition will launch. Reart aims to showcase the endless creative possibilities of upcycling and recycling, so any works submitted for consideration must be made from at least 70% second-hand or waste material; the exhibition is being curated by Retrash author Nathan Devine and supported by Etsy. If you think you’ve got what it takes to reinvent, reimagine and recycle, get the lowdown on the Reart website and enter here by 23 March 2015. It’s time to summon those salvaging skills!

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4
Mar

Lost Trades

Can you whittle a spoon, mend a shoe or string a banjo? Chances are that in the little Victorian town of Kyneton, there’s at least one person who has mastered each of these time-honoured skills. An ode to craftsmanship, patience and practice, the town’s annual Lost Trades Fair is a chance for visitors to celebrate the tools, traditions and trade secrets tied-up with Kyneton’s thriving manual crafts industry. Dozens of the region’s most talented artisans will once again come together this weekend to demonstrate 85 gone-but-not-forgotten trades, from blacksmithing to coopering, making it a great opportunity to meet the makers, hear their stories and learn a thing or two yourself. At this year’s Fair you’ll even find some of the hand-makers, trash transformers and treasure seekers featured in our newly released Autumn Issue 25, including locals Junked, Rundell and Rundell, and more. Hosted on March 7 and 8 at Kyneton Racecourse (around one hour’s drive from Melbourne’s CBD), you can purchase tickets online now to avoid queues at the gate.

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3
Mar

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It’s the time of year when folk aficionados get ready to let their hair down at the annual National Folk Festival in Canberra, running 2-6 April at beautiful Exhibition Park. And despite the excellent line-up of acoustic, folk, blues, roots, world and country music, including over 180 acts from Australia and more than 23 acts from overseas (like folksy luminaries Bob Fox, The Outside Track and All Our Exes Live in Texas), there’s more to the Nat Folk Fest than its sweet tunes! For its 49th year, there’s an emphasis on getting in touch with your crafty side, with workshops and classes on bookbinding, wood crafting, screen printing, leatherwork, batik dyeing and more. The festival also has continuous projects that link audiences through the years, such as a rag rug started in 2010, a quilt started in 2011 and a woven CD installation that’s kicking off this year – with the creativity culminating in the gorgeous parade that will be winding its way through festival village and lighting up the night sky on Sunday. And there’s plenty on the cultural menu for young and older folks alike, with interactive highlights including puppet shows, poetry slams, dance classes, street choirs and an ‘Animals of the Dreaming’ Aboriginal Zoo experience with the travelling Taronga Zoomobile. If that all sounds right up your street, we have two season tickets (valued at $690) to this year’s National Folk Festival to give away! To be in with a chance to win, leave a comment below telling us which act you’d most like to see there. {Entries close 5pm AEST Friday 6 March, 2015}.

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