2021 Ethical Fashion Guide with Donna Thomas
Here at Merino Country we have been manufacturing Australian Made 100% Merino clothing and underwear for nearly 29 years and are proud to be part of the sustainable, slow clothing & textile industry supporting local jobs & communities.
Making all our garments in-house in our factory in Brisbane, we are proud to produce ethically made and sustainable clothing and have just renewed our Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation that ensures brands are ethical in their entire supply chain.
As more and more consumers are becoming increasingly mindful with their purchases, the demand for ethical clothing is seeing an increase. The Baptist World Aid is an organisation that works to raise the standards for workers in global fashion supply chains. Every year they release a Ethical Fashion Report and Guide that helps consumers make mindful purchases to ensure they shop ethically.
Merino Country customer and enthusiast Donna Thomas is an ethical clothing advocate and has been working with Stafford Heights Baptist Church to create the Spring Carnival Event with a Market to coincide with the release of the 2021 Ethical Fashion Report on the 20th of November. Donna has been working in the ethical and slow fashion industry for many years and is an upcycling specialist with her creativity and skills in fashion. We had a chat with Donna….
What was the major event or factor that made you completely switch your mindset to be more ethical and sustainable with your fashion?
Joining the Stafford Heights Baptist Church Catalyst Group who advocate for Baptist World Aid was my change in Direction. I have always taken the ecological sustainable approach to fashion styling and as an Outsider Artist I love to recreate using thrifted items and Textile Waste, but basically I was just another little rich princess living a privileged life as an Eco Fashionista and never really knew how to give much action to DOING anything more than making stuff for ME and giving people an eco entertainment experience.
I never knew about how to advocate on behalf of disadvantaged women and children or really how badly they are treated. Baptist World Aid has around 60 home grown Catalyst groups in Australia working by lobbying against the inhumane and unethical Textile Industry through the 'Be Love End Poverty' campaign. One of those programs is the Ethical Fashion Guide, born out of the Rana Plaza Disaster in Bangladesh where thousands of garment workers died. The Ethical Fashion guide calls to end Child Slave Labour, Unsafe Workplaces and practices and to provide a Living Wage for all garment workers and all the workers in the supply chain. Today, 9 out of 10 women and children who supply the world’s fashion labels are living below the poverty line because of inadequate wages.
How important is it for you to know who is making your clothes and manufacturing transparency?
Knowing gives me ability to make informed decisions and opportunity for advocacy when I chose a garment because I absolutely LOVE IT without guilt that it’ is made by a low ethically performing company. Life happens and sometimes always choosing best practice with manufacturers choices can not happen. Hello...we live in an online world. What you can do is send the fashion label a message or email telling them you want better from them to keep you as a customer. It Works!
We can see this with the chocolate Industry (see more info here). I have 2 daughters and 2 grandsons- I never want them to think doing nothing is OK or to show them I thought this was OK. This is the reason knowing how to choose who makes my clothes and teaching them the abilities to think, research and gain knowledge of supply chains through looking into manufacturing transparency and by calling for accountability. To me, this is of utmost urgency in this generation enabling everyone to create better futures.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to share with people who are just starting their ethical fashion journey?
Get the Ethical Fashion Guide App. The Ethical Fashion Guide is now available online. Go to your playstore and install Baptist World Aid then follow the prompts. Then Google Google Google! Do your own research so you can make your own decisions on what you can do and how to do it.
99 is NOT 100. You are that one who can make a difference.
Choosing the right fabric for clothes is an important part of sustainable fashion. What is something you’d like people to know about choosing fashion pieces that are better for the planet?
That dryer lint we would once put out for birds to collect is now full of toxic plastic, Yes you read correctly...plastic. Polyester fibre shedding is a horrific problem but there are a few solutions (read our blog about how to deal with washing synthetic fibres HERE). Also a very handy simple solution to polyester fibre shedding when washing clothing is place an old stocking over the water hose and collect the plastic lint and dispose safely before it enters our waterways. Natural fibres don't give you all that extra work and truely are the ultimate in wearer comfort and planet sustainability.
Donna Thomas, Karen Uhlman And Jonathan at the Merino Country Market Stall at the Brisbane Eco Expo
What are 3 things you consider before buying new clothes?
- What is it I REALLY need?
- Do I need to buy this?
- Is this choice the best ethical, local or sustainable choice I have?
Here's one of my favourite quotes at the moment
Tell us why you first became involved with the SHBC event for the Ethical Fashion Report.
As a proactive member of the SHBC CATALYST GROUP I created this Mega Marvelous Mighty Market Day event to Celebrate the LAUNCH of the 2021 ETHICAL FASHION GUIDE by working with all members of the Stafford Heights Baptist Church Community across generations and cultures to come together and grow in all knowledge. Head to their Facebook page to see more info about the event or to RSVP.
Donna holding up a pair of our Merino Leggings she bought from us 20years ago with heart embellishments that she has sewn on to repair some wear and tear from 2 decades of wearing them!
You have come to our factory to pick up some of our Merino offcuts. Tell us what you do with our offcuts and what’s your favorite thing to do with them.
Absolute favourite is to strip the offcuts and knit hand tufted Rugs but do also love to create Artworks, Textile Hangings and embellish Homewares.