We are not paying “The True Cost” #fashionrevolution

On the 24th of April 2013, 1138 people died and 2500 others were injured when an eight-story building with several garment factories inside collapsed.  The Rana Plaza disaster became a tragic illustration of the consequences of fast fashion, largely thanks to the 2015 documentary “The True Cost”.  I urge you to watch it if you haven’t already.

As a result of this disaster a campaign called #fashionrevolution was launched and this week I looked a little bit more into the social and environmental costs of fashion and what we can do to join this revolution.

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While up until the 1980’s it was more common than not to find “Made in New Zealand” on clothing tags – since then, most manufacturing has been outsourced to developing countries.  There are 40 million garment workers in the world, mostly in Bangladesh and China, with some working in substandard physical conditions and many more being exploited – all for the sake of our obsession with cheap fashion.  While the $2 or $3 a day might seem better than the alternative for people in these countries; the constant pressure to produce more clothing for less money is having an impact.  We, in New Zealand are not paying the True cost of our clothing.  The workers are.

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While pressure continues to provide safe conditions and a living wage for these workers, both in New Zealand and around the world, we are still having to address the fact that fashion is our 2nd biggest polluter after oil.  So, how does fashion impact on our environment?

“The True cost” shared the impact of genetically modified cotton – being intensively farmed and sprayed with Roundup to control pests.  I’m talking large scale – millions of acres of soil being drenched in poison to try to keep up with the demand for fast fashion.  I knew Monsanto was a dirty word – but it wasn’t until I started looking more into it in terms of a cyclical trap for farmers that I realised how significant this is for all of us.  Google it.

After we destroy our soil, air and biodiversity we move to dying textiles with toxic chemicals which not only causes disease and death to workers, but gets into water ways, and the soil they use for food production.   Speaking of water, the 2700 litres required to  produce one t-shirt is a crime in itself, particularly given how many people don’t have access to clean drinking water.

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<Sarcastic tone> But that’s okay because we now have a $5 t-shirt, which is considered disposable.

Clothing has become so cheap that we think nothing when we dispose of it or “donate it” to the op-shop.  But, did you know only 10% of what we donate to op-shops sells in their shop?  The rest is bundled, shipped overseas where they don’t want it either so is incinerated or sent to landfill.  We in New Zealand are not paying the True cost of our clothing.  The environment is.

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So we, as consumers of cheap fashion find ourselves responsible for a dying planet and exploitation of people.  We need systematic change.  That’s where #fashionrevolution comes in.  Change starts with us. 

This list isn’t exhaustive but here are 5 ways you can do something.

  1.  Shop wisely.  Do you really need it?  Chose quality over quantity, or just say “No”. (Added benefit of being good for your wallet too).
  2. Check out the label.  Tearfund is one of the organisations who have made it easy for us to find out how ethical different brands are.  If a label is an “F” leave it on the rack.  Better yet – send a letter requesting ethical compliance.  If we don’t buy it, they can’t justify making it.
  3. Shop local.  We’ve got so many awesome local designers who you can support that there’s no need to ship in your fashion.
  4. Feel it. Think about what happens at the end of a garments’ life.  Fair trade organic cotton, hemp or wool is good because it can break down naturally, unlike synthetic material.  Another way to look after the environment is to avoid polyester or if you do wear it, wash it when it needs it not after every wear.  Microfibres are getting into our waterways and is now in the fish food cycle. Yuk.
  5. Buy second hand.  It keeps clothes in the cycle longer; stops the need for new clothing to be made and again, saves you money without the exploitative side.

#fashionrevolution is held around the 24th of April each year so we don’t forget the lives of those who died bringing us fast fashion.

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Zero Below by Katie

In this week’s podcast I chat to zero-waste advocate Katie Hine.  Over the last couple of years, she’s worked towards reducing her waste to just a jar every couple of months, far shy of the 780kg the average Hamiltonian is responsible for each year.  Hear about her journey, and tips on how we can all reduce our environmental impact starting in the home.  (www.zerobelow.co.nz or insta “zerobelowbykatie“)

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Katie Hine has a blog called http://www.zerobelow.co.nz

Earlier in the week Katie and I organised a meet up for those interested in zero-waste which was a great opportunity to share ideas, ask questions and find out what is happening at a community and political level with regards to waste minimisation.  If you’re interested in future meetings, or want to be one of the first to sign a petition to the Hamilton City Council which launches next week – join the Zero-waste Kirikiriroa group on facebook.

In this episode I also talk about the proposed name change to Kirikiriroa and play music from local bands The Shrugs, The Good Fun, Loudhailer, Date Month Year, Ancient Tapes and Snake Oil Peddlers.

 

With thanks to Two Birds Eateries for their support for Kelli from the Tron and FreeFM89.0.  Listen to the podcast here.

Two Birds Eatery

One of the ethos I live by is to actively work towards reducing my impact on our planet.  Some of the ways I’ve done this so far is by being more mindful of the food packaging or single use plastic I use, reducing the use of chemicals on my body and in our house, switching to a moon cup (too much info? sorry); reducing my intake of meat and jumping on a bike to get to work.   I’m conscious of the choices available to me on a daily basis and try to support businesses that are doing the right thing too.  It’s not always the easy (or cheapest) option for us or them, but I think it’s important to consider the “true cost” of a purchase.

Two Birds Eatery gets the tick in terms of an environmentally conscious business … so I’m super excited to have them as a sponsor of Kelli from the Tron.

I have to admit I’m not a “foodie”, I’m just as happy chowing down on Macca’s as I am to eating a raw, locally sourced, gluten free, vegan meal but I do appreciate, and am conscious of which one is better for my body and the planet.  Two Birds is well known for their raw baking, which basically means no crap yummy goodness.  Seriously.  Check out the ingredients in their cakes, slices etc and you’ll see what I mean.  I wouldn’t say knocking back a whole cheesecake is good for you… but if you’re going to do it…

Anyway… I digress.  I’m pretty childish when it comes to diet, I’m much more at home telling you more about waste-minimisation.  I even set up a group on facebook called Zero-waste Kirikiriroa to enable people to share tips, ask advice and reduce waste to landfill by swapping.  Anyway … back to Two Birds.

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The recycling wall in the Two Birds courtyard is awesome – it gets customers thinking about what happens to the vessel they just used for their drink.

For those who are familiar with the waste hierachy, you’ll know that recycling is good -but not using a disposable product to begin with is better.  So while I may sarcastically slow clap someone when they say they always recycle at home (recycling is sooo 2017), the reason the Two Birds recycling wall is so cool, is because it reminds customers that even when they are “eating out”, their bottles have to go somewhere…  I mean, is what cafes do with their waste even something you’d considered before?  While Hamilton has a recycling service for glass, and plastics 1-2, the smoothie cups and coffee cups are a whole other kettle of fish – and have to be taken to a commercial composter (in Hampton Downs or (soon) Raglan).   So well done to Two Birds for not taking the easy way out by putting it all in landfill.

Two Birds Eatery don’t just leave environmentally conscious practices at recycling, they take it further.  Much further.  They consider the packaging you take your slices home in, the packaging their suppliers send them products in, they use local suppliers when they can (less food miles) and da dum da daaa IF you take your Keep cup (Joco etc) in to Two Birds for your morning coffee, You get double stamped!  Talk about an incentive to not use disposable cups.  (Plus also, these cups are so pretty…).

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I guess what I’m trying to say is Go check out Two Birds Eatery – it’s a cafe, offers catering and an event space.  A little bird (get it…) told me to keep an eye on their facebook page for cooking classes soon too.

Massive thank you to Two Birds Eatery for being the Captain Planet of cafes in the Tron, and for sponsoring FreeFM local content!

You’ll find them in the Clyde Street carpark (off Grey Street) in Hamilton East.

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How to help your community eat.

Kelli from the Tron shares Hamilton news, views, events and music on a weekly FreeFm89.0 show and podcast. 

While some of us struggle with over-indulgence and send a third of a rubbish bag of wasted food to landfill each week; other Hamiltonians don’t know where their next meal is coming from; go without, and can keep kids at home due to the shame of not being able to send them to school with lunch.

Robert Moore from Anglican Action and Poverty Action Waikato and Alex Bailey from the Catholic diocese of Hamilton interviewed for and wrote a report called “Breaking Leftover Bread: Kaivolution and food insecurity in Kirikiriroa Hamilton”.  Rob joined me in the studio to share that report with us.

Kaivolution recently reached the milestone of rescuing 350 tonnes of edible food for redistribution –  reducing landfills and greenhouse gas emissions.  While environmental outcomes of food rescue have been recorded; this report was instigated due to the need to record anecdotal evidence of the social value of the role Kaivolution has.

Access to consistent nourishing food is a significant issue for many families who are recipients of Kaivolution food.  The most serious physical consequence of this shortfall is seen with child hospitalisation for malnourishment doubling in the last decade.

The reasons for deficiencies vary – quality of the food we are eating is decreasing, with more processed, convenience and take-away foods being consumed.  The cost of living has increased faster than incomes with food being the safest budget to drop, without fear of persecution from a landlord, the power being disconnected or lacking the ability to get to work.  Pride is considered a barrier to accessing food, with recipients recounting the shame and stigma attached to seeking help through WINZ, who have decreased accessibility to hardship assistance.  Many also found the governmental organisation difficult to navigate.  The food assistance provided by Kavolution and it’s recipients allows a more empowering way to support ones family – and also builds communities around the 75 charities Kaivolution support.

So, what can we do?

Support local groups like Poverty Action Waikato, Living Wage Aotearoa and Reality Check Aotearoa. Among other campaigns, they advocate to lift benefit levels and introduce a living wage.  You can help by being aware of their work; liking and sharing what they do with your friends and whanau and attending events/rallies or donating where possible.

Donate food.  If you want to collect non-perishable food at work, or from home you can donate at a local food bank.  Their shelves empty out around Christmas so now is the time to start thinking about this.  If you have food that is edible but about to go to waste please contact Kaivolution.  This includes donating produce from your garden or trees.

Support local groups – or the Council to enable groups to plant fruit trees in public places and build community gardens to improve food sovereignty.  The added benefit of giving access to food is the community it builds around the group or garden.

At a political level, we are seeing calls for GST to be removed from fruit and veges and for subsidies to be put on nourishing food.  Food prices in the land of milk and honey have increased due to the demand from overseas for our exports – addressing the free market conditions could help reduce prices.

Consider using initiatives like Eat My Lunch, who match a meal you buy for yourself with one for a child who would otherwise go without.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopes to give ideas on how you can help your community eat.

Listen to my latest podcast, which includes the interview with Rob about “Breaking leftover bread: Kaivolution and food insecurity in Hamilton”.  (About 8 minutes into the show)

 

 

Zero-wasting is hard – but let’s do this!

I don’t always overthink every decision in a supermarket, but when I do….

Let me share a recent “quick stop” at the supermarket with you.

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Unassuming bag of dilemmas

Butter.  I’ve been procrastinating buying butter because a) it’s expensive (due to overseas demand) and b) I was doing a mini-protest at New Zealand’s unsustainable farming industry (carbon emissions, water quality etc); but since I haven’t looked into vegan baking yet, I felt resigned to make the purchase this time.

Produce.  The most ethical way to shop for fruit and veges is from a market in terms of less food miles (carbon emissions), supporting your community and less packaging.  However, the best choices today were NZ apples and Fair trade bananas.  I had to reach over the heavily packaged apples and wrapped bananas to get to the “better choices” and even then they’re not perfect… fruit has sticker labels which is annoying (not recyclable) but laser tagging is on it’s way so it won’t be an issue forever.  I’m just going to put this out here – if produce is wrapped in plastic please leave it on the shelf to send Countdown a message that we think it’s stupid and wasteful.

Actually we have a selection of produce bags in our shop to choose from, which means you’ll never need plastic again mwah ha ha haaa

 

Deli meat.  We stopped cooking meat at home over a year ago, to protest animal cruelty and the impact of farming on our environment (which makes us ‘Reduceatarians’ lol) but I was hankering for a ham toastie…  The options were (since I didn’t take my own container); in one of their plastic bags, their container or as I found out in brown paper.  If you ask them to wrap it in brown paper – make sure they don’t weigh the item in a plastic bag and then tip that onto the brown paper – defeats the purpose, which I politely pointed out.  It does mean you’ll spend an extra cent or two on paper which is heavier but small price to pay.  I can chuck the paper in our compost but those flimsy plastic bags will last hundreds of years which is ridiculous for the 10 minutes use it will have.  The next best option would be one of their containers if you can commit to reusing it – at the moment I use ours to raise seeds 🙂

So a consumer dilemma with every purchase…. the silver lining is how much power we have with those decisions. We can’t be perfect all the time and every little change or thoughtful purchase helps.

But shopping can be a nightmare when you overthink things so to help us along on the zero-waste journey are Hannah and Liam “No waste Nomads” who are travelling around New Zealand running free workshops to show you how easy it can be. We’re hosting them at Go Eco on November 2nd.  Join me to get tips, so your head doesn’t implode every time you go shopping.

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606 … not an error – a complete F**k up by those in a position to address New Zealand’s suicide rate.

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Yes we care:  29 August 2017. Photo  CHRISTINE CORNEGE/ STUFF.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/96261298/shoes-symbolise-suicides-along-waikato-river

Last month I spoke to Dave Mac (elected Waikato DHB member) about mental health services in the Waikato.  You can listen to the podcast of that Kelli from the Tron episode here.  At the time Dave kindly gave me a list of what he believes should be included in a policy on mental health and suicide.  (In summary, with my comments in brackets)

  1.  An independent review of mental health services.  (So far Minister Coleman (Health) has refused to do this).
  2. Address CAUSES of compromised mental health/suicide – consider poverty, housing, unemployment, (chronic stress).
  3. Trained staff in every school.  (Labour has pledged to see this happen).
  4. Restore mental health component to GP training.  (Opportunity to implement in our new medical school).
  5. Provide respite care, for those in transition from in-patient to community treatment.
  6. Common sense policy to treatment that puts safety first. (Our DHB voted against Dave’s recommendation to exclude mental health patients from the rule about not smoking on hospital grounds – which puts lives at risk!)
  7. Requirement to listen to whanau views for treatment plans (they know best).
  8. Consider alternatives to a drugs first policy for treatment (short term measure only).
  9. Ensure national budget set for mental health costs is suitable – and above politics.
  10. National and local (non-partisan) leadership in sector.

These are the things you need to look for any any political party policy but ultimately we need an independent enquiry into what the f**k is happening.  Make our devastating, increasing suicide toll an election issue – THE election issue this year.   Please ask candidates at any opportunity what THEY (not just their party) are doing about this.

 

 

Don’t spread your bad luck over here.

Is misfortune contagious?  If I distance myself far enough from those who experience bad luck; whether it be the loss of a loved one, redundancy or illness will I be able to continue with my privileged life and tell myself they are to blame for their circumstances?  Because it is their fault, isn’t it?  They chose to live like this, they clearly couldn’t afford to have children and their unemployment is a result of bad choices.  If I try understand the circumstances the vulnerable are in, if I attempt to help them, and if I see them as people – just like me – what will happen?  Will the gap between my life of privilege and their existence narrow?  There are two types of people in the world – those who see the bundle of blankets in a door way, recoil in disgust, judge and then think nothing of it until they next have to walk past; and those who see the people.

Which one are you?  I’m going to admit, I think I’m more of the first.  I don’t understand, and what I don’t understand – I don’t like much.  I’m certainly not alone.  Take the “Your help, may harm” campaign, rolled out in Hamilton last year.  “Your help, may harm”.  Look at that.  You are great, privileged and generous – now distance yourself.  Now, you don’t even have to fumble around in your pocket pretending to look for $2 – you can walk past – with a cursory nod to the poster on the dairy wall and go buy that takeaway coffee.  I can distance myself further.  Great.

It’s not just dirty old men in sleeping bags I’m avoiding.  What if, I found myself single, unemployed (because who can afford childcare anyway) and on a <shock horror> benefit?  I’d be smoking at the kitchen table while watching Jeremy Kyle in no time.  I don’t want to be like that.  I don’t want society to judge me.  There are two types of people in the world when it comes to the fallout surrounding Green party co-leader Meteria Turei’s admission last week.  The one who thought – “OMG benefit fraud – she has no morals – she has to go!” and the one who thought – “I’m glad she chose to use this example to make welfare an election issue”.  Shouldn’t it always be one? I admit I am judgmental at times – but I’m in the second camp here, I wholeheartedly support what she did.  How can we judge a parent for wanting to make sure their kid is fed?  How can we act so shocked and disgusted when let’s be honest, it’s impossible to navigate our social welfare systems and no-one on a benefit is raking it in.  It barely covers the cost of living.  But, I understand… fraud is ripping off the tax payer – people like you and me who pay taxes.  I would never do that.

Don’t have children if you can’t afford them they say?  Jesus, I’d love to know how many of us actually planned to have kids.  Were you in a long term relationship? – did you save and plan for that kid?  I’m glad your child wasn’t born with an illness or disability, I’m glad you didn’t lose your income during that time.  Lucky our circumstances stayed the same eh?

Redundancy hurts.  Well, not for me personally – but I’ve heard it does.  I’m skilled, educated and have mediocre social skills – I’ll never have a problem getting a job.  Will I?

I have a choice now.  I can continue just “being lucky” until my time is up – and then become “one of them”… that pile in a doorway – that mother who has to lie to WINZ to survive, or that person who has to apply for 100 jobs before being successful.  I can plan on being lucky – or I can share luck, build resilience and demand better social services for the vulnerable.  I can discard the judgment, use my luck and privilege; and help in any way I can.

There are community organisations picking up where our central government misses the mark.  We can help them.  We can volunteer our time, skills or money to help improve our communities.  We can give as little or much as we like.  Everyone has something to share.  Find yours.  Get involved.  Don’t turn a blind eye.  Luck isn’t finite. While politics seems irrelevant – there’s no denying central government has the ability to respond to community momentum too.  They represent us.  The government does what we want – or it goes… that’s how it works.  Encourage the young, and poor to vote – if you know any.  And if you are privileged, if you’ve had luck – consider sharing it.   Vote for the greater good this year.  Vote for a fair and equal society.  There is no science backing the idea that misfortune spreads.