EthiCool

I received an email the other day from Suzanne at EthiCool – she’s a member of ActNow and she’s started up an ethical clothing label.

The EthiCool range is primarily organic cotton tees and shopping bags, both featuring Suzanne’s graphic illustrations. All of the products are sweatshop free – the EthiCool site has a page that features the producers of the items, including edun, Ali Hewson and Bono’s famous brand. (It seems that edun have launched a blank t-shirt service).

It’s really cool to see more options, especially Australian-run, coming onto the market. And props to Suzanne for getting this off the ground – speaking from experience, that’s not small feat…

People are the business/building

During Earth Hour I had a couple of conversations about how people who work in offices seem to be less conscious of their habits in relation to sustainability than they are at home. That somehow, when they’re at work, they kind of feel it’s someone else’s responsibility. This was primarily anecdotal, but it did ring true for me at the time.

Seems that recent survey, reported by Smart Company seems to back that up:

According to a recent survey of 1741 US employees by Sun Microsystems published by Inc.com, 73% of workers want to work for businesses that are environmentally-friendly – but only 52% say they turn lights off when they leave a room at the office, and 34% report they turn off their computers at the end of the day.

Interestingly, people take more responsibility for conservation at home. The same survey found 92% of people conserve energy at home by turning off the lights and 58% shut down their computers.

In our chats one of the folks suggested that we needed to get across the idea that individuals are the business – in the specific case we were referring to the building (i.e. that the building doesn’t know how to turn off lights and computers, put things in recycling, conserve water etc. – the people do).

But how do you do that without sounding patronising? Anyways – hopefully that study will help change some behaviour…

Jetstar launch offset program

In my inbox today – “Introducing Jetstar’s Carbon Offset Program”:

To celebrate the launch, we are going to be paying for all carbon emissions on every international and domestic flight, for all of our passengers, on Wednesday 19th September – the first day of our new program.

This single day offset will have a six figure price tag and is a real sign of our commitment to protecting our environment…

The program is accredited by the Government’s Greenhouse Friendly program, which includes tree-based offsets in the mix of accredited products. (I’m not a fan of tree-based offsets – investment in renewable energy, like that offered by Climate Friendly, is preferred in my book.)

Unlike Virgin, Jetstar have embedded offsetting into their booking page on their website – right after the “excess baggage” section. This is a good move (and one of the criticisms I had of the Virgin program.)

A flight from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast – which, fortuitously I need to book today 😉 – adds $2.52 to the flight cost. By contrast, Climate Friendly’s price for the same trip are $13.04. This is partly because Climate Friendly also include other factors in their pricing – such as the contrails and other impacts of flights – as well as using more expensive credits.

That said, Jetstar do go to some effort to explain how they calculate the cost and it seems they are factoring in a few things specific to their airline, which may also lower the cost. They also claim that they “will not make any profit from Carbon Offset transactions”.

The offsetting doesn’t apply to Jetstar’s business operations, nor is it compulsory for all passengers (it’s not even ticked by default). But they do claim to be taking measures to increase operational efficiency:

Jetstar is focused on the implementation of several conservation strategies relating to energy, water and waste usage across all facets of its operation.

They also tout the benefits of their younger plane fleet’s fuel efficiency as one of the “measures” they are taking (although I doubt environmental benefit played a significant part in their decision making process).

Unfortunately for Jetstar, like Virgin, their core business, low-cost flights, are actually contributing significantly to the increase in flights being taken, which in turn contribute to global warming. So moves like this will do little to dent the scepticism of many a hardened climate campaigner.

But as I’ve mentioned before, I think, on balance, programs such as these do help, because they result in investment in renewable energy (and in the case of tree-based programs, landcare and bushland regeneration). And with our government lagging behind in introducing any concrete targets or legislation, this can only be a good thing.

Find out more about the program on Jetstar’s site.

In honour of Anita

If Anita can whip up an empire, you can too

I heard the news about Anita Roddick’s passing last night on JJJ’s Hack program. I have to admit I was quite shocked to hear it – in fact emotionally touched and saddened… still am.

As Dave so eloquently put it “She left the planet and it’s inhabitants with a much better chance of survival than if she had not been born…”

Anita was absolute hero of mine. I first heard about the Body Shop’s “different” way of doing things, and thought I’d read Anita’s semi-biography “Business as unusual“. It was tremendously inspiring to read about Anita’s journey from the small shop recycling bottles because she had to, to the spread of the Body Shop internationally.

Through the Body Shop she was a pioneer of what was to become known as Fair Trade, took an activist stance on animal testing and women’s rights, all the while building a successful international business. Proof positive that profits do not have to trump people and the environment – they can happily work together.

Throughout her life she was a passionate human rights and environmental activist, who really was alone for many, many years in her role as ethical business-woman. (Business-woman period, for that matter.) Her later books were a call to action for us all to take a stand, to “take it personally”, and to make our voices heard and our actions count.

I found myself quite emotionally low last night. I feel I personally owe her a debt of gratitude, even though I’ve never met her in person.

But I think about what her advice might be – I think (I hope) it would be “keep fighting the fight and make whatever difference you can, in work and life”. Hopefully I can do that sentiment justice…

To paraphrase Augie March: Anita, thanks for the memes. Your life is an inspiration.

Anita Roddick

P.S. both images on this post were taken from the home page of AnitaRoddick.com, Anita’s personal website. Check it out and help Anita’s legacy live on…

Update: Philippa over at ActNow posted a great opinion piece on Anita. “However, the loss of this figure should not bring us to look hopelessly at the sky but requires consumer’s attention to be cast on other businesses and their actual intentions towards their stakeholders.”