The COVID-pandemic completely upended the way we both work and live. With forced social distancing came our exploration into new ways to stay connected. Bars, offices, restaurants and all usual places of gatherings shut down and so too did our ability to stay physically connected to our peers and colleagues.
So what did we take away from all of this? Well, one of the most salient trends in the wake of the pandemic (according to Deloitte), was that with all this change — for the first time ever, people weren’t afraid to question their usual choice of brand.
All of a sudden we started to wonder about the ethics, motives and sustainable practices of our failsafe favourites. Because this mattered to us now more than ever. And hey, if absolutely everything else in life was turned on its head, then we may as well just shake up our other regular constants too. For example, instead of doing the weekly shop at Coles, we began to look into family owned businesses to shop from instead. Online ordering and at home delivery became a necessity, so any grocers doing that with fresh produce came top of the list for consumers (our current personal favourite is Delish Deliveries…).
Instead of buying our usual house cleaning products or shampoos, we started to look into brands with sustainable packaging and chemical free alternatives — because these things matter for the health of our people and our planet and this became abundantly clear in 2020. Not only that but if we were to lose our human connection with our friends, family and colleagues, then that humanness became all the more important with the brands we choose to bring into our homes. Our safe haven.
With this came a huge opportunity for brands to reposition themselves and snatch up some of those questioning customers. So, here are some of our personal favourite brands at the moment, with incredible values — and ones that we could all take some inspiration from in terms of how we can inject extra morality into our own brand.
“Every consumer purchase MUST have a positive environmental and social impact to protect our future” – Vinita and Dushyant, founders of Bhumi Organic Cotton.
Gone are the days where most of us will buy cheap clothing out of convenience. With this huge shift in consciousness toward our environmental impact, consumers are willing to pay more for better quality products that are sustainably produced. And when it comes to ‘slow fashion’, Bhumi are the pinnacle of the movement. Meaning ‘mother earth’ in sanskrit, Bhumi’s mission is to teach us to honour and respect our surroundings. In their own words, “the collective power of knowledge and conscious consumer choices will give life to the Earth and as we work together we will help restore balance and in turn make this Earth an even more beautiful place.”
Wouldn’t you want to deck your home and closet out with pieces made by a company with such admirable beliefs? Well, lucky for us — you can.
Bhumi cotton is sourced from purely organic materials, of which there is only 10% of the water usage when compared to non-organic farming. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 52% from conventional cotton farming. Absolutely zero chemicals are used in the production of Bhumi fabrics, so you know you’re not inviting harmful substances into your home. You can also rest easy on your organic cotton pillow case knowing that all their fabrics are made from GOTS certified cotton and linen Fairtrade factories. Meaning unlike a lot of the ‘fast fashion’ items, Bhumi does not contribute to illegal child labour (which is sadly a huge problem in the industry).
An intricately thought out process drives this product, to the point that the product itself seems to come second to the work they do to make our planet a better place.
It’s the ultimate in luxury for baby relaxation. The Warren Hill French linen baby play mat. At a glance it just seems like a really beautiful baby accessory, but it’s so much more. Anyone who has children will know that with that bundle of joy, comes another bundle… a haul of baby bits and pieces that we’re told we simply MUST own in order to properly rear a child. Some of it is necessary, but most of it really isn’t (in this writer’s humble opinion). However when you’re trawling through the never-ending list of ‘baby things’ you must buy, it’s hard to ignore the fact that 90% of them don’t seem to be overly well-thought out in terms of their environmental impact. This one is though.
If there’s one thing you can feel really good about bringing into your home, it’s the Warren Hill baby play mat. The company is partnered with trees.org, so for every mat sold a portion of that profit goes toward the planting of trees (ten to be specific). This is so that “alongside our customers, we can help make a real difference to people’s lives, and to the life of our planet”, as said by founders Paul and Tori. They also go one step farther and ensure a zero waste practice in their production line. Any mat made with unintentional imperfections is donated to a local charity that supports young and struggling families. So once again… it’s a baby ‘thing’ you can feel really good about buying.
It’s a quirky brand, but we kind of love it anyway. Tony’s Chocolonely are “crazy about chocolate, serious about people”, based in the Netherlands they hope to bring awareness to the cruelty involved in the farming of cocoa.
As you kick back with your favourite chocolate and an evening movie, have you ever thought about that little piece of heaven’s journey from the farm to your home? We have to be honest and say that before stumbling upon this brand, we hadn’t. According to Tony, things aren’t shared fairly in the chocolate supply chain. The chain starts with the millions of farmers that produce cocoa and ends with the billions of consumers that enjoy chocolate. But what about the bit in between? This section is dominated by a group of chocolate giants that profit from keeping the cocoa purchasing price as low as possible. For the farmers, this creates a poverty trap that leads to illegal child labor and modern slavery.
Makes us feel additional guilt about our post dinner snack… now not only do we have the calories to worry about, but child slave labour too!? Well the good thing is brands like Tony’s Chocolonely are actively doing something about this. By bringing it to our attention with their super endearing branding, leading by example and inspiring action. Interested in a little more detail? Well here, let Tony break it down for you with his ‘ingredients for slave free cocoa’.
Image source: Tony’s Chocolonely website
Though we may not be able to get our hands on a Tony’s Chocolonely bar in Australia just yet, you can in most parts of Europe and the US. And, now that we’re aware of this issue, we can at least do a little bit more research into the chocolate we do buy here. Some great ethical brands available locally include: Pana, Loving Earth and Chow Cacao — just to get you started. We’d hate to ruin your chocolate fix. So here are some guilt free options to explore!
We hope these incredibly forward thinking brands have given you something to (forward) think about. It certainly has for us. One common thread we see in all of these, is that it almost seems that their will to help build a more sustainable world seems to have come before their actual product creation. Almost as if they built the product around the sentiment, not the other way around. Though this isn’t feasible for all of us, we can certainly do a bit of an audit on our existing products or services and find ways to implement ethical or sustainable practices. Partner with organisations making a difference and form some inspirational initiatives. There’s lots to be done, so we leave you with that thought.