It’s Time to Employ Conscious Decision-Making When You Shop

Ethical fashion can sometimes feel like an overwhelming topic. And rightfully so — it refers to the darker side of fashion (think factory conditions, animal rights and the environment).

And while it’s easy to turn a blind eye if it means you can still shop your favourite fast fashion labels, now is the time to take a stand.

Before you freak out, becoming an ethical shopper doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style or give up treating yourself to a cheaper trend piece every now and then, it just requires conscious decision making.

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Below are six simple changes you can make that will allow you to wear your wardrobe free of guilt, and be a part of creating a sustainable future. Ethical shopping, it’s the perfect fit. Here’s how.

1. Do Your Research

Educating yourself on the brands you love and buy is an important step in becoming a conscious shopper. Doing your research will shed some light on how a brand treats the environment, employees and animals and equip you to make an informed decision. The only issue? Finding trustworthy information.
Enter, Good On You, an App that rates brands on how ethical they are, and offers up better alternatives for consideration. The news feed on the homepage will also keep you up to date with brand and industry ethics-related news.

2. Follow Diet Prada

Not as obvious an issue as sustainability or fair workplace conditions — but equally as important — is the intellectual property of designers. Brands that create knock-offs are rife, and while buying their products is a cheap way to achieve a high-end look, it’s not ethical. Diet Prada (if you haven’t heard of it, where on Earth have you been?!) is an Instagram account dedicated to calling out fashion copycats — follow it, and try to support designers who create original work.

3. Invest in Quality Products

Although lots of fast fashion giants have taken positive steps to protect the environment and implement fair working conditions, there’s still a lot of work to be done. While more expensive at the time, investing in higher-quality items is always the more sustainable choice.

4. Shop Vintage

Although we will always love the thrill of scouring local op-shops for hidden gems, the internet has made vintage shopping even more exciting. The birth of websites like The Real Real and Vestiaire Collective means we now have access to vintage pieces from all over the world and can shop without the fear of acquiring a fake.

5. Let Someone Else Love Your Clothes

Whether you’re into vintage shopping or not, recycling your own clothes is an easy way to reduce your fashion footprint. Grab one of your pals and set up a market stall to sell your clothes and accessories (I can confirm that playing shop for a day is a good time) or donate them to a charity.

6. Go Natural

Clothes made from synthetic fibres can take up to 40 years to decompose — that’s a really long time. Investing in pieces made from cotton and wool for example, has a lesser impact on the environment (not to mention they are way more breathable!).

Source: Pop Sugar

Port Augusta Solar Thermal Power Plant will be Biggest of its Type in the World

South Australia’s reputation as the solar hub of Australia is growing after the state government approved construction of a solar thermal power plant near Port Augusta.

The 150 MW solar thermal power plant will also be the biggest of its kind in the world. The project will create 650 local jobs during construction and 50 ongoing positions.

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The solar thermal process uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a receiver on top of a 220-metre tower. This heats molten salt within the tower to 565°C, generating enough steam to drive a turbine and create electricity.

Traditionally, Port Augusta was a hub for coal-fired generation. However, the new solar plant is cementing the transition away from coal. The process started with the closure of Alinta Energy’s coal station in 2016 and the Leigh Creek coal mine in 2015.

Solar thermal power puts downward pressure on prices

Acting Energy Minister Chris Picton described the solar thermal power plant project as “world-leading”.

“[It] will deliver clean, dispatchable renewable energy to supply our electrified rail, hospitals, schools and other major government buildings,” he said.

“This approval triggers an investment of about $650 million, will create a total of about 700 construction and ongoing jobs in Port Augusta. It will add new competition to the South Australian market, putting downward pressure on power prices.”

Court decision curbs distributor charges

South Australian electricity consumers had another win this week when the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) defeated a bid by SA Power Networks (SAPN) to increase costs.

The Full Federal Court yesterday confirmed the AER’s October 2015 revenue decision for SAPN. As a result, consumers will receive savings delivered in the original decision.

SAPN had proposed recovering $4.5 billion from consumers over the five-year regulatory period commencing on 1 July 2015. However, the AER determined that the distributor required $3.8 billion in order to deliver safe, secure and reliable power.

“We welcome today’s decision, in this long-running legal dispute, which means South Australian consumers will get the savings from our original 2015 decision,” said AER chair Paula Conboy.

“At a time when rising energy costs are a serious concern to households not just in South Australia but across the nation, the AER is working to make all Australian energy consumers better off now and in the future.”

 

Source: Energy Matters

Tesla Says Solar Roof Production Has Started in Buffalo

Tesla Inc said on Tuesday it began manufacturing its premium solar roof tiles at the company’s Buffalo, New York factory last month and has started surveying the homes of customers who made a deposit of $1,000 to reserve the product last year.

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The solar roof, which generates electricity without the need for traditional rooftop panels, is a cornerstone of the electric vehicle maker’s strategy to sell a fossil-fuel-free lifestyle under the luxury Tesla brand. Tesla unveiled the product in October 2016 as it sought to acquire solar installer SolarCity.

At that time, Tesla said the product could be rolled out as soon as the summer of 2017. In November, Tesla founder Elon Musk said the product was going through a six-month testing process, saying “it just takes a little while to get this behemoth rolling.”

More than a dozen Tesla employees, including Musk and Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel, had the solar roofs installed on their homes last year as part of an initial pilot program.

Tesla started taking orders for the solar roof tiles in May by asking homeowners to put down a $1,000 deposit via its website. Tesla would not disclose how many reservations it had received for the solar roof. The product will be installed on some customer rooftops in the coming months.

The company has said its solar roofs would cost between 10 and 15 percent less than an ordinary new roof plus traditional solar panels.

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Tesla is collaborating with its longstanding battery partner, Japan’s Panasonic Corp, to manufacture solar products at the Buffalo factory. There are about 500 employees working at the site currently, Tesla said.

The companies began production of traditional solar panels at the site last year, but they have not yet been installed on rooftops. The company said it will achieve more than 1 gigawatt of cell and module production in Buffalo, and possibly as much as double that, but gave no timeline for meeting the target.

Tesla said its primary focus is increasing production of its Model 3 sedan. The company said last week it would likely build about 2,500 Model 3s a week by the end of the first quarter, half the number it had earlier promised.

 

Source: Reuters

Renewable Energy to Power Stawell Farm a “World’s First”

The Victorian State government has stated that it will build a major new wind farm with battery storage in Western Victoria that will power the expansion of Stawell’s Nectar Farms.

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This project will make the advanced agriculture facility what the state government calls “the world’s first ever crop farm” to be completely powered by renewable energy.

The 15-year Support Agreement between the Labor Government and Neoen Australia will deliver the Bulgana Green Power Hub – an integrated energy project of a scale and technology never been seen before.

More than 1,300 jobs will be created – including 270 direct ongoing jobs in the agricultural sector and 10 direct ongoing jobs in the renewable energy industry – all located in the Stawell region.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said,  “We’re delivering affordable, secure and clean energy, which is powering new jobs right across our state.”

The wind farm and battery storage system will provide reliable and affordable renewable energy to unlock the development of a major new advanced agriculture facility in Stawell, with a total expected investment of $665 million.

The farm will use the latest in hydroponic glasshouse and plant technology to create a 40 hectare, facility to supply the highest quality vegetables into domestic and international markets.

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The co-located 204MW Bulgana Green Power Hub will be backed up by a 20MW battery, making the farms expansion a reality by providing the secure and affordable energy that Nectar Farms needs for its hydroponic greenhouses.

The project will help secure the Labor Government’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets of 15 to 20 per cent (from 2005 levels) by the year 2020.

 

Source: Manufacturer’s Monthly

WWF Develops Blockchain Solution to Improve Transparency in Tuna Industry

The World Wildlife Fund in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand have joined forces to stamp out illegal fishing and slave labour in the tuna fishing industry using blockchain technology.

In partnership with US-based software company ConsenSys and information and communications technology implementer TraSeable, WWF has been able to help tuna fishing and processing company Sea Quest Fiji to track using blockchain the journey of the tuna from when it is caught, through processing and to the distributor.

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WWF is now in discussions with tuna retailers to complete the “bait-to-plate” cycle with the hopes of creating a QR code for consumers on tuna tins that would tell them if the tuna had been sourced sustainably and ethically.

WWF Australia chief executive Dermot O’Gorman said the technology would likely be ready for commercial use in the tuna industry by the end of the year.

“The next phase is to work with the retail sector. We’ve worked on the front end and now we need to look at the rest of the supply chain, right up to the plate,” he said.

“There’s a number of technical and logistical challenges … but we’re in discussions with a few retailers … and through the course of this year I think we’ll get from bait to plate and be able to address the sustainability and human rights issues.”

According to WWF, commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous professions in the world with a high rate of injury and sometimes death due to unsafe working conditions.

A report from January 2014 found members of a South Korean fishing vessel called Oyang 70 were often beaten or punished for little or no reason and would be made to stand on deck during extreme weather conditions with no food or water. Crew members also reported incidents of sexual harassment and rape. These allegations came to light when the ship sank, killing six men.

Sea Quest volunteered to trial the technology as the Fijian fishery has made a name for itself in the market based on its commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. It exports predominantly to the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

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“From the moment the fish comes aboard the vessel the blockchain technology captures their journey in a digital manner and allows every person through the supply chain to see the story of that fish,” Sea Quest chief executive Brett “Blu” Haywood said.

Mr O’Gorman said consumers wanted to shop ethically and the development of the blockchain technology would enable them to do so in the near future.

“We see blockchain technology as being able to step up the transparency in the supply chain, which previously was difficult or quite expensive to do,” he said.

“It’s a very exciting revolution that’s about to transform the industry and will deliver multiple sustainable development goals.”

WWF is also investigating the use of blockchain for other seafood industries and for fundraising initiatives. It also held two hackathons in 2017 to develop solutions to environmental sustainability issues using new technologies.

Mr O’Gorman said it was supporting a start-up that had emerged from its second hackathon to develop a blockchain for charities to show consumers how their donations were being spent.

Source: Financial Review