There is an innate link between Indigenous people’s connection to country and the world's current need to move in a more environmentally sustainable direction. Protecting and taking care of land is extremely important in First Nations culture as this care for the country challenges the dominant materialistic values of our society. For many Indigenous people, the country relates to all parts of life: spirituality, culture, language, law, family and identity. People don’t own the land, they belong to the land and as such they are entrusted to take care of it. “Healthy Country, Healthy People'' is a phrase that perfectly embodies this reciprocal relationship. It is not just environmental benefits that come from this partnership: health and well-being, culture and economics can all be positively influenced as well. Throughout history Indigenous people have provided land management including fire management, weed control, feral animal control and biodiversity conservation. Now, climate change is having a huge impact on all these areas and our throwaway culture is part of what is causing it. It is for these reasons that it is crucial that businesses continue moving forward with their sustainability measures.
Here at Bundarra we are continuing to improve upon our environmental initiatives. We are in a society that prioritises convenience and quantity over quality. The biggest issue that comes out of this is single use plastic. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) reports that 300 million tons of plastic is produced every year worldwide and half of this is single use items. Single use items such as plastic bags, straws and cutlery are typically hard to recycle. 8 million tons of this plastic then makes its way into the oceans every year. Once these plastics end up in the ocean, landfill or elsewhere they don’t break down, they break up into tiny microplastics. These microplastics are a huge danger to all wildlife. It is for this reason we have been putting a special focus on becoming plastic free. We are continuing to use biodegradable product bags and shipping bags. These bags have huge advantages, they are able to break down in home compost bins leaving no fragments or toxic residues in our precious environment.
Image by Artem Beliakin
Another way we have been tackling the issue of plastics is through our Caring for Country Range though both the sustainable materials it uses and the important message it provides. The Caring for Country range is made from 100% recycled post-consumed polyester (made from recycled bottles). Plastic bottles are one of the few plastics that can be recycled. The process of making the polyester is quite simple. The bottles are processed into flakes, these flakes are then melted, and yarns are pulled from the melted polyester. The result is a clean recycled raw material perfect for polo shirts. The invention of turning waste into new products is a big step in the right direction for environmental sustainability and we will be continuing to focus on using these kinds of sustainable materials. In fashion production, chemical pollution from inks is also a huge problem. One way that we have begun addressing this issue here in Brisbane is through our recently upgraded screen-printing machinery that works with environmentally friendly water-based inks that don’t harm our waterways.
Some of the other initiatives that we have been moving forward with include our use of AS Colour tees. All our screen-printed tees are AS Colour, a company that is also focused on being ethical and environmentally sustainable. Some of the good things they are doing include responsible sourcing, they are plastic free and are a part of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). The BCI is a non-for-profit organisation that exists to improve the livelihoods of farmers and reduce the environmental impacts of cotton production. We are currently increasing our usage of natural fibres through expanding our range of cotton tees, hoodies and bags.
Lastly, we love being able to provide reusable products so that everyone at home can be more sustainable. Our current products include Bamboo Eco Coffee Cups, Water Bottles, Fold-up Shopping Bags and Reusable Produce Bags. Our Bamboo Coffee Cups are made from bamboo fibre, a biodegradable and sustainable material.
Climate change is something that impacts all environments and people. By returning to the simple principle of caring for country we can learn many important lessons. The Indigenous connection to and care of country is incredibly important for both culture and sustainability. As such, here at Bundarra, we are dedicated to continuing to improve on our environmental impact so that future generations can continue to enjoy and care for beautiful Australia.