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Ethical Consumer Conference 2016 – Collaborating for Change

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A slight delay in posting, but what a brilliant day at Londons Amnesty Centre!

As a somehwhat new draft in to the whole ethical and eco-friendly scene, having the opportunity to speak with individuals who have not only been active in the space for countless years but who have pioneered some of the industries biggest and best movements was an absolutely incredible opportunity!

The event kickstarted with a brilliant speech by Ethical Consumer editor Rob Harrison exploring the potential affects/defects of the eventual Brexit whilst consequently highlighting the importance for collaboration between Ethical brands, institutions and markets.

For me this was the perfect way to start the day and really set the tone for the entire theme of the conference, “collaborating for change”.

Following this intro was the first panel of the day centring on the activities of the Government and local authorities featuring Paul Monaghan (Director of The Fair Tax Mark), John Hilary (Executive Directory of War on Want) and Dani Paffard (UK Divestment Organiser at 350). In a room full of conscious consumers/creators the discussion provided some great advice and an insight into how best to act in order to work with those in politics with the hope of sharing the importance of ethical creations and consumerism.

After this we jumped straight into the workshops allowing a more personal and collective discussion. With four brilliant topics to chose from it was quite the decision, though I opted for the theme of “Collaborating on Setting Minimum Standards” of which I think is a theme pretty relevant in the fashion industry.

As a big admirer of the work at Fashion Revolution, particularly with their “Who made your clothes?” movement it was very intriguing to hear from Sarah Ditty, Head of Policy at FR on the processes of how they achieved what they have and whats next to come from them!

With that, having also previously heard of the brilliant work at Altgen it was a great opportunity to hear from co-founder Constance Laisné outlining what they are trying to achieve whilst providing a little insight into what it’s like running a cooperative.

Following the workshop was an extremely lavish vegan-friendly lunch of which I ensured to make the most of!!

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I’m a big believer that Food and Drink brings the very best out of people, particularly with these type of events, and so it was great to casually converse with various individuals in the industry whilst working my way through my overfilling plate! (the wraps were my favourite)..

After lunch we shifted back into the main hall and jumped into the second panel of the day, ‘Collaborating on Transparency and Disclosure’. This involved Colleen Theron (CLT envirolaw), Nathaniel Dyer (Global Witness), Sarah Ditty (Fashion Revolution), Fiona Gooch (Traidcraft) and Jenny Carlyle (Suma food).

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Although all speakers were brilliant, Fiona Gooch (Senior Policy Advisor at Traidcraft) really pulled the punches with some very thought provoking ideas backed up with some very strong statistics.

Supply chains particularly in the fashion industry are becoming ever more complex with brands outsourcing from all around the globe to produce and manufacture their garments.

Although this has its pros and cons, one of the major issues is an inevitable lack of control with the production processes and as such is a significant reason as to why we see regular catastrophes in the industry on such a regular basis.

Sarah Ditty highlighted this in her speech and mentioned the importance of brand transparency indexes of which we are looking to publish at the beginning of next week.

With Brexit still very much on the lips of the British it seemed to be only fitting to end the conference discussing this and the potential affects this may have on an ethically conscious community.

Matt Grady (Traidcraft), Constance Laisne (AltGen), Jonathan Bartley (Green Party), Marilyn Croser (CORE) and Michelle Thew (Cruelty Free International) all teamed up for this panel.

It was brilliant to hear from Jonathan, Co-founder of the Green Party and learn a little about his thoughts on the affects of the eventual Brexit and what they are trying to achieve as a party.

Although it is very easy to look at the situation pessimistically, for me if we play it right, and sticking to theme of the conference, collaborate together then perhaps the consequence won’t be as detrimental (I hope).

Overall, I really enjoyed the conference and look forward to attending the next one!

kai

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