Saturday, November 13, 2010

Videos for Lifecycle: Electronics

For those who missed the workshop, we've put a few short videos up on our YouTube channel.

The Story of Electronics is a good place to start:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lifecycles: Electronics - Links and Resources

For those who didn't make it to the workshop, or who came and want to know more, here are a few places to start looking.

Karen Allen, 2009, The Human Cost of Mining in DR Congo

A short video and article about some of the consequences of militarised mining for people living in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

David Sullivan & Sarah K. Dreier, 2009, Electronics and Atrocities

This article discusses a new US government plan to map the areas of militarised mining in the DRC.

Basel Action Network

BAN works on the environmental and social impacts of toxic trade. While some sections of this website haven't been updated in a while, it has some good information on the Basel Convention and related issues. It's also worth having a look at the Basel Convention website.

Tanya Ha, E-Waste

A brief overview of some of the issues with electronics disposal, and potential solutions, from an Australian perspective.

Electronics Takeback Coalition

This coalition promotes green design and responsible recycling in the electronics industry. The website has some excellent resources, including an annual electronics recycling report card.

Greening Electronics

Information on how to reduce electronics waste at home, work, and school, and how to put pressure on electronics companies and governments to support greener electronics. This site has a US focus, but many of the ideas are relevant for Australians.

The Story of Electronics

Download 'The Story of Electronics' movie, read FAQ sheets, find out what you can do. Again, this has a US focus, but is still useful.

The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance

This project is "a voluntary system to independently verify compliance with environmental, human rights and social standards for mining operations." As well as providing an overview of the project and its members, it links to some useful information, including on Australia's Mining Certification Evaluation Project.

Aida Akl, 2010, Tracing DRC's Conflict Minerals a Daunting Task

More information on the difficulties involved in tracing conflict minerals.

Resolve Wiki

RESOLVE was commissioned by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) Extractives Workgroup to map the supply chain for key electronics components. This wiki provides example supply chains.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lifecycles Workshop #3: Electronics

Wednesday, 10 November 6:30pm-8:30pm

The Edmund Rice Institute for Social Justice
24 High St, Fremantle

Entry by donation.

The Bluestocking Institute's Lifecycles workshops focus on helping participants to develop action plans around the issues that they care about.

Speakers at Lifecycles: Electronics will discuss the environmental and social costs of producing electronic goods, ways to prolong their usefulness, and how to recycle them ethically. There will also be time for you to ask questions and share your own experiences and knowledge.

You are invited to bring old mobile phones that you wish to recycle.

For more information or to RSVP:
• visit the Facebook event page at or
• email us at or
• call Sky on 0411 595 834.

Sponsored by The Bluestocking Institute for Global Peace and Justice

Thursday, October 7, 2010

10/10/10: An Invitation to a Global Work Party on Climate Change is an international campaign dedicated to building solutions to climate change. As they point out:
"It’s been a tough year: in North America, oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico; in Asia some of the highest temperatures ever recorded; in the Arctic, the fastest melting of sea ice ever seen; in Latin America, record rainfalls washing away whole mountainsides."

So they’re having a party:

"Circle 10/10/10 on your calendar. That’s the date. The place is wherever you live. And the point is to do something that will help deal with global warming in your city or community."

To find out more about 10/10/10, read the invitation.

There are events happening all around the world, including several in Perth. To find an event near you, go to this handy map!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Launch for Unspeakable: A Feminist Ethic of Speech


By Betty McLellan

This is a book about speech and the silencing of speech; about who gets to speak and who does not; about who is listened to and who is ignored. Otherwise Publications

Do all citizens have equal access to speech and equal opportunity to be heard - men and women, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, rich and poor, governments and citizens, multinational companies and struggling workers?

In her new book Unspeakable: a feminist ethic of speech Betty McLellan draws on the accumulated knowledge of feminist historians and researchers, and concludes that women continue to be silenced in every nation on earth through:

Violence: domestic violence, rape, militarism, terrorism, war.

Subordination: through fundamentalism, pornography, prostitution, trafficking, poverty.

Exclusion: the silencing of women’s analysis and opinions, and the silencing of all but a few token women from national and international decision-making.


6.30-8.30pm Thursday 28th October 2010

Edmund Rice Institute
24 High St, Fremantle (roundhouse end)

Entry free

Refreshments provided RSVP by 15th October or tel: 9337 6413

Also showing “The Face, Heart & Feet of Feminism” slideshow presentation.

Dr Betty McLellan is Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work and Community Welfare at James Cook University in Townsville. She is a feminist ethicist, author, psychotherapist and committed activist of long standing. Her previous books have been well received around the world, the most recent of which has been published in thirteen languages.

“Reports of the death of feminism by those who would benefit from its demise are grossly exaggerated… Feminism is not dead but, as with other important social movements agitating for justice around the world, there have been serious attempts to silence the voice of feminism”. Betty McLellan

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fundraising Iftar Dinner for Pakistani Flood Victims

This dinner has been organised by the Centre for Muslim States and Societies.

"As I am sure many of you are aware, recent floods in Pakistan have
caused a huge amount of damage in large areas of the country. It is
Pakistan's biggest-ever natural disaster and has left millions of
people homeless, with up to 6 million people requiring urgent food
aid. In order to raise money for the victims of the disaster, the
Centre for Muslim States and Societies, in collaboration with Tandoor
on Oxford, is organising a fund raising Iftar dinner.

Where: Tandoor on Oxford - 209 Oxford St Leederville
When: 5.30pm - 9.00pm, Sunday 22 August 2010
Cost: $13 - This includes a delicious subcontintenal dinner and soft

Additional donations will be collected, and raffles drawn, with the
proceeds going to the victims of the flood.

For further information, or to make reservations, please contact Ben
Clark email: or phone: 043 2755 010 or Natalia Saeed
CMSS email: or 6488 4554.

RSVP by Thursday 19 August 2010."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Food sovereignty: what's on your plate?

Slow Food Perth will join with Christ Church Grammar School’s ethics centre to present a forum entitled ‘Food sovereignty: what’s on your plate?’ at the school in Claremont on 24 August 2010.

The panel will include:

* priest Frank Sheehan, Christ Church Grammar School chaplain and senior canon of Perth’s St George’s Anglican Cathedral
* journalist Anthony Georgeff, editor of Spice magazine
* academic Felicity Newman, an author and lecturer in food and culture at Murdoch University’s Centre for Everyday Life
* farmer Annie Kavanagh, who raises berkshire pigs on organic principles at her Spencers Brook farm in the Avon Valley
* a Christ Church Grammar School senior student
* parliamentarian Max Trenorden, The Nationals’ leading Member for the Agricultural Region, and
* Kim Chance, former Labor minister for agriculture and food [2001-2008], now chairman of the Australian Landcare Council

The forum will discuss the ethics of farming and eating. Do we know what’s on our plate, who produced it, how it was produced, and whether it is local or imported, fresh and seasonal or from last year’s crop? Do we care, or do we just eat?

For more information, visit the Slow Food website.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Live Below the Line

What is it? Participants restrict their eating and drinking to $2 a day for 5 days. You will get a personal experience of what living in poverty is like, as well as raising much-needed funds through personal sponsorship for international education projects.

Why $2? The international Extreme Poverty Line is marked at US$1.25 a day; people living on, or less, than this amount are living in extreme poverty. When this US dollar amount is adjusted for the Australian dollar, it equals roughly $2 a day.

When does the campaign start? Now! Everyone will complete the challenge at the same time, from the 2nd - 6th of August, but the sooner you sign up, the sooner you can start raising money! It is easier to sign up and begin now, so you won't be rushed to find sponsorship. It also means you can start blogging about your experience, sharing your stories and reading others, as well as recipes, tips and videos :)

Extra details: You can make your own teams - get some friends and create a makeshift 'village'! Then you can bulk buy, get sponsorship together, have poverty lunches and go fishing! It's a really good way to raise more awareness, as well as having extra support and fun.
There will also be small events running during the challenge week in August. So far, a movie night, soup kitchen, camping night and marketplace have been planned. If you don't like any of the events we've planned, then create your own!

Where does the money go? All funds raised go directly to life-changing education programs; when you sign up, you are able to choose between two.

1. Oaktree's newest project in Cambodia. Due to a war and genocide that happened just over 30 years ago, one in three Cambodians live in extreme poverty. Despite education being essential to an improved life, 85% of young Cambodians don't make it to secondary school, and even if they do, the quality of school education is extremely poor! This is why we are re-hauling three schools in the poorest provinces of Cambodia; retraining teachers, creating scholarships and outreach programs and creating better facilities (including toilets!) are some of the great benefits provided by this project.
2. A Poverty Education Program in Australian schools. The Global Poverty Project works to increase the number of people around the world taking action to end extreme poverty with their ground-breaking presentation 1.4 Billion Reasons. They provide Australian youths with the knowledge and resources they need to become leaders in their community, and contribute to the end of extreme poverty. Funds raised will be used to reach additional schools, and inspire grassroots initiatives.

How do I sign up? Go to and click the sign up button. The website is pretty interesting as well, have a look around while you're there.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lifecycles Workshop: Clothing

Lifecycles: Clothing
workshop and clothing swap

18 August 2010, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Edmund Rice Institute for Social Justice, 24 High Street, Fremantle, WA

Who makes the clothes you wear? What can you do to improve working conditions in the garment industry in Australia and overseas?

Many of the clothes sold in Australia are made in sweatshops in the developing world where workers are underpaid, ill treated and sometimes forced to work against their will. But what about clothing made in Australia? Even workers in Australia earn as little as $2-$3 per hour producing clothing sold here.

If you’re interested in learning more about sweatshops and promoting more ethical practices in the industry, come to the next Lifecycles workshop. The Bluestocking Institute's Lifecycles workshops help participants develop action plans around the issues that they care about.

At the Lifecycles: Clothing workshop we’ll discuss working conditions in the garment industry and the role of consumers, governments and corporations in addressing widespread abuse in the industry. We’ll also discuss the many active campaigns locally and internationally aimed at improving working conditions in the industry.

The workshop will also include a clothing swap, so if you have any clothes that you no longer need, bring them along to share with others and walk away with some new (to you) items.

Suggested donation $5

RSVP to or visit the Lifecycle Clothing event page on Facebook.

Sponsored by the Bluestocking Institute for Global Peace and Justice

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lifecycles: Food Roundup and Links

Our first Lifecycles workshop, focusing on food, went well. A big thank you to all the excellent participants who came down and were willing to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with each other and with us! The workshop opened with a brief introductory talk, including an outline of ideas for developing action plans. You can read more about developing action plans at the Living Smart website, which also provides a Home and Work Action Guide.

At Bluestocking, we think it's important to link actions at different levels, including individual lifestyle changes,community-level change, and advocacy for broader structural change. It's important to consider action in each of these areas because they're mutually supportive. Broad structural change helps people to make better choices in their own lives: for example, it's easier to shift from driving to cycling and walking if the government has been encouraged to build more cycle lanes and develop a healthy public transport system. Similarly, taking action at a community level helps to support individual lifestyle change, and helps to provide models of alternative models for food production, consumption, and distribution. Developing an action plan is a good way to start shifting towards the world as you'd like to see it. Some tips for creating an action plan include:

  • Think about what's realistic for you.
  • Frame your goals positively, rather than negatively. Remember, anything that you're committing to doing you're doing because you care, and because it will make your life and your community better. When you're working out your goals, keep your motivations in mind. Will the action help you to feel happier? Healthier? Will it save you money? Will it help you to feel more connected to the people around you?
  • Be specific: if you've chosen to do something like read an article or write a letter to an MP, give yourself a due date. If you're going with something like, “eat more vegetarian meals”, give yourself a specific number or rule, for example: 'I will make a vegetarian dinner five nights a week', or, 'I'm going to stick to vegetarian food on Mondays'.
  • Think about how the people around you can help you to achieve your goals. This could mean sharing your action plan with your partner, housemates, or friend.

During the workshop, participants shared useful tools and information. There were some great ideas for campaigns and organisations to get involved in, including:
  • Live Below the Line: Live Below the Line is an education and fundraising campaign that will be happening around Australia from the 2nd – 6th of August 2010. During this time, participants will feed themselves for just $2 a day to increase understanding of the obstacles faced by those currently living in extreme poverty, and to raise money for life-changing education programs.
  • The Animal Advocates Australia website has some excellent resources for finding out more about animal rights and suggestions for how to take action. There's also a campaign running at the moment against caged eggs being sold at supermarkets: as well as emailing the relevant ministers, you can take part by asking your local supermarket to stop stocking caged eggs.
  • There are also plenty of organisations and resources to help you get started on food gardens at home or in your local community: the permaculture WA website or City Farm are good places to start looking.
  • The Good Grocery Guide website provides ideas on how to shop more ethically, including an online guide to different products.

Have I missed something? Feel free to share ideas and resources in the comments!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Social Justice Workshop

Our friends at the Edmund Rice Institute for Social Justice are hosting an exciting new social justice workshop.

Be More - “Integrating Head, Heart, Hand for Social Justice”

ERISJ One-Day Intensive

Saturday, 26 June 2010: 10.00 am - 5:00 pm at ERISJ in Fremantle, Western Australia

This Intensive assists participants to find higher purpose in life
through solidarity with, and practical action for, those who suffer

Be More challenges people to consider ‘being more’ rather than
‘having more’. Participants will conclude this interactive Intensive with an inspired, clear sense of how practically to:

• connect with the worldwide experience of humanity beyond family and friends;
• become part of the solution to global poverty and suffering;
• live a life that does justice;
• turn compassion into doing more than just donating money;
• tackle the structural nature of global poverty;
• identify and organise their own Be More activities; and
• connect with thousands of other Australians as they take up the Be More Challenge.

Presenter: Janeen Murphy is Global Education Advisor for Caritas Australia. She has worked in this position for 9 years, and worked with Caritas partners ‘on the ground’ in Uganda, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Cambodia and India. Janeen runs education programs in schools and higher education institutions, providing pathways to engage with justice issues.

Registration & Payment: or call 9432 2400

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fair Trade Fortnight Prize Draw

Congratulations to Varnya, who won our Fair Trade Fortnight prize pack!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Reminder: Food workshop on 16th June

Lifecycles: Food
16th June, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
The Edmund Rice Centre for Social Justice
24 High St, Fremantle

Are you an urban gardener? Do you care about animal rights? Do you want clearer labelling on food in the supermarket? Or perhaps you want to buy more ethical food, but don't know where to start? If you're already passionate about changing how we eat or just want to know more, Lifecycles: Food will give you a chance to learn, share, and develop some ideas for change that suit your interests and level of commitment.

The Bluestocking Institute's Lifecycles: Food workshop will build on The Politics of Food workshop by helping participants to share their knowledge and develop action plans around ethical and sustainable food production and consumption. The workshop will begin with a brief introduction outlining key issues and discussing methods for taking action on an individual and community level. We will then break into smaller groups in which participants can share ideas, either about issues that they already care about or about areas where they want to learn more. We'll finish with a short discussion period.

For more information or to RSVP:
  • visit the Facebook event page at or
  • email us at
Suggested donation $5

Reading Food at the Downunder Feminists Carnival

The latest edition of the Downunder Feminists Carnival features some great blog posts that touch on how we produce food, who produces it, and what we eat, including:
  • Helen Razer criticises PETA for their use of sexism and racism in advertising campaigns, and argues that real argument is needed to change people's minds about meat.
  • Tammi Jonas talks about some of the debates surrounding the relationship between feminism and the local food movement.
  • Steph writes about the 'Hear Me Roar' forum, which considered 'the parallels and intersections between equal rights and animal rights in society and law'.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Food labelling

Food labelling matters, because it allows consumers to make informed choices. It also enables campaigns that put pressure on manufacturers: Fair Trade certification allows us to give support to those who pay workers better, while campaigns against palm oil face problems due to the difficulty in working out which products contain palm oil.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council (Ministerial Council) are currently reviewing food labelling laws. The final report is expected to be out early next year.

Currently, there are many problems with Australia's food labelling system. "Made in Australia" labels can be misleading, food standards are often set at the lowest common international level, and the body responsible for food health and safety standards (including labelling) is torn between a public health focus and a focus on promoting commerce and international trade. If you'd like to learn more, there's a great Background Briefing program about the problems with our existing food labelling system and what's happening with the review here.

If you care about food labelling and want to know where your food comes from and what's in it, you can also make a submission to the food labelling review at the website.

Photo courtesy of The Labour Party.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Changing the food system

There's an interesting article over on Good magazine about why salads in the US cost more than Big Macs, and what can be done to change. It's a useful reminder of the political processes that shape the way we eat, and the links between individual food choices and the broader structures of food production. There are also quite a few other articles by the author, Peter Smith, that are worth checking out.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lifecycles Workshop: Food

Sign up now for the first Lifecycles workshop. Details below.

16 June 6:30pm-8:30pm

The Edmund Rice Institute for Social Justice
24 High St, Fremantle

The Bluestocking Institute's Lifecycles workshops help participants develop action plans around the issues that they care about. The emphasis for Lifecycles: Food will be on building a fairer, healthier, and more sustainable food system through actions that we can take in our own lives and communities.

Speakers at Lifecycles: Food will discuss different aspects of food production and consumption, including how and where food is grown, fair trade, and animal rights. There will also be time for participants to share their own experiences and knowledge.

For more information or to RSVP:
• visit the Facebook event page or
• email us at or
• call Sky on 0411 595 834.

Suggested donation $5

New Fair Trade Resources

As part of Fair Trade Fortnight (1-16 May) we added fair trade books to the Bluestocking Library, created a Fair Trade channel on YouTube, and added blog posts on fair trade events and videos (see below). Last but not least, one lucky Bluestocking member received a bag of fair trade treats. Throughout the year, we'll keep adding to our growing list of fair trade resources. Feel free to add more books, videos or events by posting a comment.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fair trade maybe, but what about the use of palm oil

Bluestocking member, Liza Beinart, originally wrote this letter to Tim Costello, Director of World Vision. I'm posting it here (with her permission) to highlight some of the challenges with fair trade labelling and certification.

Dear Mr Costello,

I read with interest the story in The Age about your meeting with Arnott’s about the use of child labour to produce cocoa in west Africa. Congratulations for advocating for such an important issue.

I wonder if you are aware that Arnott’s products contain palm oil. As I’m sure you know, palm oil is sourced from South-East Asia and palm oil crops have contributed not only to massive deforestation, but also to the loss of natural habitat for orang-utans, one of the world’s most endangered species. Palm oil is used in products such as tim tams and mint slice biscuits.

I raise this because I do not think that the removal of child labour from the production of cocoa for these biscuits necessarily means the products – or Arnotts for that matter – will have earned an ethical certification label that “ensure[s] products met agreed environmental, labour and developmental standards”. Ensuring that “the chocolate in these biscuits has been produced ethically” is not enough to make this an ethical product – Arnott’s would have to address their use of palm oil, the trade of which is causing devastating environmental and ecological damage, and basically wiping out the orang-utan population.

I understand that World Vision’s focus is not ecology but children (I work for a children’s rights organisation myself) – but I think it’s important to avoid stamping “ethically produced” labels on products simply because one aspect of the production is ethical. Ethical production is a multi-layered issue and we run the risk of letting companies off the hook lightly if we applaud them for only addressing one small part of the problem. Likewise, it runs the risk of misleading consumers to believe that they are buying “ethical” products, when in fact they are only buying a product that has responded to one ethical issue. Yes, they should get part credit, but not resounding approval with a label saying “ethically produced”. It’s like calling washing powder “environmentally friendly” because the box it comes in is made from recycled cardboard – even though it might be full of noxious chemicals that pollute our waterways.

I would be interested in your perspective on this.

Kind regards

Liza Beinart
Perth, WA

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fremantle: WA's first Fair Trade city

This Saturday Fremantle became WA's first Fair Trade city. This means that it has "passed resolutions in support of fair trade; implemented procurement of Fairtrade Certified products including coffee and tea; and would work with members of the local community to form a steering group to promote fair trade in their local area through businesses, schools, faith groups and other organisations".

For more on the story, read this article on FreoFocus or this discussion on Fair Trade Australia/NZ.

It's important to note that this didn't just happen: it was the outcome of lobbying from both within and outside the council. If you want a Fair Trade council, or a Fair Trade city, you can make a start by writing to your council members...Fair Trade Fortnight is a great time to encourage local government to make The Big Swap.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Days of Change, Western Australia

Western Australia's Days of Change program was launched this month. The program works by "providing a forum in which people can make public commitments to reduce their footprint, and then supporting them in making the changes to fulfil their commitments."

This is a great way to make a first step in shifting towards a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. However, I'd encourage you to also think beyond individual actions. As well as pledging to catch public transport or cycle more often, for example, you could also pledge to write a letter to your government representative asking for better cycle paths in your area. Individual action helps, but we also need to work to build better communities and put pressure on government.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bluestocking's Fair Trade YouTube Channel

Bluestocking now has a Fair Trade YouTube Channel, which you can find here. Some of the videos give overviews of Fair Trade, others are documentaries about producers who have benefitted from Fair Trade, others look at why consumers are making the switch. There are also a few campaign videos - I rather like this one:

It was also great to see that there are quite a few videos about Fair Trade that are made for school and university projects - I've included a few in the playlist.

If you have any recommendations for videos to add to our playlist, or comments to make on the videos we've included, please let us know!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fair Trade Fortnight

Oxfam's Fair Trade Fortnight 2010 runs from the 1st to the 16th of May. This year, Oxfam is asking you to take part in 'The Big Swap' by swapping as many of the products that you usually buy for Fair Trade products.

This might involve buying products such as tea or coffee from Oxfam or other Fair Trade suppliers (many grocery stores now carry Fair Trade products, too). It also might mean checking whether the clothes you buy are certified under a scheme like Australia's FairWear project.

Even if you're just swapping one of the things you buy for a Fair Trade product, you're helping to support the people who sustain you.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Success for advocates of Fair Trade

In recognition of Fair Trade Fortnight, I’ve added the announcement below from the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand.

Cadbury® Dairy Milk™ milk chocolate is now Fairtrade Certified™ and starting to hit shelves across both Australia and New Zealand.

Cadbury Dairy Milk milk chocolate products becoming Fairtrade Certified™ will increase Fairtrade chocolate sales 20 fold, and double last year’s total sales of Fairtrade Certified™ products in New Zealand and Australia. In Ghana, more than 45,000 Ghanaian farmers will immediately benefit from Cadbury’s global move to Fairtrade Certification for Cadbury Dairy Milk milk chocolate products.

Fairtrade provides farmers with the security of fair and stable prices for their produce and social premiums for investment in economic and local community development. Fairtrade helps these communities through trade not aid.

Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand Executive Director Steve Knapp said from today, lovers of Cadbury Dairy Milk milk chocolate will be able to make their purchase in the knowledge that they are supporting a brighter future for very small scale cocoa farmers, their families and their villages.

“This is a real milestone for Fairtrade and for cocoa growers in Ghana. Cadbury Dairy Milk milk chocolate will create a step-change in awareness of Fairtrade here in New Zealand, while in Ghana it could potentially transform the lives and opportunities for thousands of people in cocoa-growing communities.”

“Cadbury is leading the way, listening to consumers and demonstrating that major chocolate manufacturers can make a real difference by helping to tackle poverty and empowering poor and disadvantaged cocoa farmers. We actively encourage other manufacturers in Australia and New Zealand to follow Cadbury's lead"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day

Do you think of Earth Day as a time to reflect on personal choices, engage in community action and pressure world leaders to address climate change and environmental degradation? Or has Earth Day been co-opted by corporations wanting to attach their names to feel-good events without changing the status quo? Everywhere you look products are labeled as green and environmentally-friendly. Does this signify any real change or is it just a case of greenwashing, where companies use false claims about a product’s environmental impact in order to sell more stuff?

Greenpeace runs a website devoted to exposing greenwashing with the slogan ‘Clean up your act, not your image’. I share their skepticism of corporate slogans and their new-found interest in jumping on the green bandwagon. However, I also believe that consumers and activists can use corporate commitments and codes to draw attention to how products are made and the impact they have on the environment and the people who make, sell and consume them. So keep an eye out for greenwashers and in the meantime use Earth Day as a time to reflect on your personal choices, engage in community action and pressure world leaders to address climate change and environmental degradation. For more on the history of Earth Day and events, go to the Earth Day 2010 Action Center.

Image courtesy of

Ethical Grocery Shopping

Sometimes it can be mystifying trying to make the right choices when grocery shopping. I find myself staring at a wall of biscuits, or oil, or toothpaste, try to weigh up the issues. Buy local? How much packaging does each product have? Has the company that produces it done anything particularly odious? Is the company owned by another umbrella company (probably)? How far can I stretch my budget to make a more ethical choice?

Ethical shopping guides can be a useful shorthand to help you with these choices. The Ethical Consumer Guide, for example, offers not only a printed guide but also an iPhone app, supermarket tours (in Melbourne), and some principles to guide your choices.

The Good Grocery Guide is also useful, and is Perth-based. As well as providing an ethical product list, it also offers more general ethical shopping tips.

Shopping guides have their limits. As the Ethical Consumer Guide points out, in many cases it's best to think carefully about whether you really need to buy the product at all: "About 80% of all saleable products end up as waste, on average, within just 6 months."

Lifecycles Workshop #1: Food

This year, the Bluestocking Institute's work will focus on the lifecycles of three different products: food, clothing, and electronics. In each workshop, speakers will give brief ideas on how to translate concerns into action. Participants will also be invited to take part in informal discussion.

The 'Food' workshop will include speakers (TBA) on a range of topics, including ethical grocery shopping, key food policy issues, and fair trade. Snacks will be provided.

Please RSVP on the event's Facebook page.

Cost: $5 waged/ gold coin donation unwaged.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Darwin Bell.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fair Trade Fortnight

We’ll be adding new content to the Bluestocking Institute website throughout Fair Trade Fortnight from 1-16 May 2010. Fair trade ensures that farmers and workers in the developing world are paid fair prices for their goods and labour. We’ll be profiling fair trade NGOs and producers, promoting World Fair Trade Day events, and discussing the challenges of certifying and labeling fair trade products. New and existing members will also be eligible to win fair trade products.

You can support fair trade producers this weekend by choosing fair trade chocolates for Easter. For a list of fair trade chocolatiers click here, Fair Trade Easter or Global Exchange.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sourcemap: open supply chains

A friend recently linked to Sourcemap, an open-source tool for mapping ecological footprints, travel, and the supply chains of different products. The site's creators write: "We built Sourcemap so that everyone can access the information needed to make sustainable choices and share them with the world."

I haven't had a chance to play around with the site yet: I'm sure it's worth spending a few hours there browsing through the maps that other people have uploaded and creating your own. If you use the site, why not leave a comment telling us about it?

What did we do in 2009?

The Bluestocking Institute's Annual Report for 2009 is now available for download here

2009 was a big year for the Bluestocking Institute. During the previous year, a group of us came up with the idea for the Bluestocking Institute. We had been meeting informally for several years to discuss international politics, human rights and global poverty. Our discussions drew upon academic literature, media reports and work being done by nongovernmental organisations and activists to address global problems on a local level. Realising that these types of discussions could motivate more people to get involved and take action towards issues they care about, we decided to open our discussions to the wider community.

In order to begin this process, the founders decided to set up a Management Committee to oversee the Institute’s activities and become an incorporated association. We did so on 31 March 2009. In the year that followed, the Bluestocking Institute hosted several public events and launched its website. The website acted as an informational tool to raise awareness about the Institute and publicise its events. The website continues to grow and has been supplemented by a blog, and together these provide the public with reading recommendations, links to articles, and notifications of upcoming events. In 2009, blog posts also contained commentary on food and poverty, fair trade, ethical consumerism and nonprofit careers.

In 2009, we also began to develop relationships with several community groups in WA, including the Edmund Rice Institute for Social Justice. In 2010 we hope to continue to build relationships with local community groups by hosting collaborative events and sharing resources and expertise. This year the Bluestocking Institute will expand its work and launch the Lifecycles project. This project will educate the public about ethical consumerism, challenging people to think about where things come from and how they are made. The Lifecycles project will also give consumers practical tools to make informed choices in their daily lives. We look forward to an exciting year ahead.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Upcoming Events: RawFest, Youth Week RRFM, Fossil Fools Day

There are a few events coming up that are relevant to Bluestocking's Lifecycles theme, exploring different approaches to what we consume and how we consume it.

RawFest 2010
The first of these is RawFest, which runs from 6pm to late this Saturday at City Farm.

Many Raw Food proponents focus on the health benefits of eating unprocessed and uncooked foods, and incorporating more Raw Food into your diet can also help to decrease the burden our food choices place on the planet and on your wallet. Raw foods often travel less before they get to our plates, take less energy to produce, and cost less.

RawFest will be a great chance to learn more about the Raw Food movement, and there'll also be drumming and dance performances by Akwaaba.

Fossil Fools Day
This Fossil Fools Day, the Safe Climate Coalition is focusing on Barnett's plan to build new coal-fired power stations:

National Youth Week Really Really Free Market

The next Really Really Free Market will be held from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 17th April at Hyde Park.

If you're interested in helping out or want to chat about running a workshop, you can phone Emma on 0403 952 365, or email

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sign up!

Become a member of the Bluestocking Institute for Global Peace and Justice today.

Membership is free and open to anyone who shares the Institute's values of informing and inspiring people to become active and engaged citizens in their communities and the wider world. As a member you will receive periodic emails about upcoming events and new resources.

All you have to do is click on Membership. Join now!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Really Really Free Market

Last year's Really Really Free Market was great: it was a mix of workshops, kids running around, music, free food, stuff (musical instruments, old puzzles, clothes, furniture, even a car was being given away), and a lovely sense of community.

This year, there are four Really Really Free Markets planned, and the first is coming up soon:

3-6pm, Sunday 21 March
Stage Area, North Side of Hyde Park, North Perth.

Bring useful items that you no longer need or want to share freely with other members of your community.

Browse through the things others have brought and leave with what your family needs, regardless of whether you brought something or not.

Bring your talent and give something of yourself: music, poetry, storytelling, lessons.

Or bring your unique service or expertise to share with others: haircuts, painting, knitting, bicycle repairs etc.

Bring a gift of food and share in a picnic lunch with other friends and families from your community or share surplus produce from your garden.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


This year, the Bluestocking Institute's theme will be Lifecycles, specifically focusing on the production, consumption, and disposal of food, clothing, and electronics. We are often separated from the people and processes involved in what we consume. We don't know where our food is grown, who makes our clothes, where electronics go when we throw them out. This makes it difficult to see the effects of our choices on the environment and on people in other parts of the world. It also separates us from the pleasures and lessons that we learn from growing food, sewing, fixing, and engaging in other activities that sustain us.

These issues are complicated by class, race, global inequalities, gender, and the paradoxes involved in consumer activism. Over the next few months, we will begin to explore different perspectives on the lifecycles of key products and provide resources to help people make informed and active choices in their daily lives.

We're currently putting together a plan for our activities and publications for the year, so visit the blog again or subscribe to our RSS feed to find out more.