Manifesto for a Moral Revolution - book review

Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: A book for change makers

If the beginning of the 21st century has seemed tumultuous so far, 2020 has shown that things can always get worse. In Australia, the year began with catastrophic bushfires that burned through 18.6 million hectares of land and wiped out over 1.25 billion of native animals.

The fires were still burning when a global pandemic put a complete hold on life. So far, COVID-19 took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and counting. Millions lost their jobs and we’re now — in the best-case scenario —  facing a recession.

While we’re still working to contain the virus and find a vaccine, the violent killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer caused millions of people to take to streets in protest and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The event drew attention to widespread systemic injustice and racism that is by no means limited to the US.

As we try to wrap our heads around event after event, 2020 is looking like a turning point in human history. If it is for better or worse will depend on how we choose to respond.

What is Manifesto for a Moral Revolution?

Among the chaos arrives a handbook for those who are determined to become leaders for positive change. In her Manifesto for a Moral Revolution, Jacqueline Novogratz outlines practices to build a better world.

“I wrote this book because I believe that our fragile, unequal, divided, yet still beautiful, world deserves radical moral rejuvenation. This revolution will ask all of us to shift our way of thinking to connection rather than consumerism, to purpose rather than profits, to sustainability rather than selfishness.”

Jacqueline Novogratz

The Founder and CEO of Acumen, a non-profit global venture capital fund addressing global poverty through entrepreneurship, describes the qualities and character traits we need to develop to drive change in even the most adverse conditions. And yet, her stories hold a more universal truth.

Ideas Thinkers

From drab to fab: this marketplace shows that ethical and sustainable fashion can be fun

Making ethical and sustainable fashion choices can be a minefield. 

There is the issue of the fabrics themselves. Which chemicals are used to process and dye them? Will the material they are made from flush microplastics into our oceans whenever we wash them? What happens to the garment at the end of its life? 

And then there are the conditions under which the clothes are sewn. Is the factory providing a safe working environment? Are the employees being paid a living wage? 

The team behind ethical and sustainable fashion marketplace, Thread Harvest.
The Thread Harvest team celebrating their Good Design Award.

The good news is that awareness around many of these issues in the fast fashion industry is growing. And there are many new labels popping up online who vouch for more sustainable and ethical practices. But that doesn’t necessarily make things easier for consumers.

Many of these brands are selling online only. These small independent designers often have limited market reach, meaning they can be harder to find. But even if fashion labels claim to be eco-friendly and treat their workers fairly, it can often still take a fair amount of research from the buyer to ensure that these claims are in fact true and not just an effort to make a quick buck from a growing trend. 

Enter Thread Harvest. The Australian Certified B Corporation is an online marketplace for ethical and sustainable fashion. I recently had the chance to catch up with its Managing Director, Davyn de Bruyn, to chat about the company’s approach and the challenges of bootstrapping a business while juggling a full-time job and family life at the same time.

A curated hub for sustainable fashion

“We’re on mission to make it a lot easier for people to buy ethical and sustainable fashion,” says Davyn. “And we want to break with some of the most common and persistent stereotypes in this category.”

Entrepreneurs

Connecting communities to fight food waste

Food waste is a common problem in all industrial societies. According to the Department of Environment and Energy, Australia produced 7.3 million tonnes of food waste in 2016-17. Of this, 34% was created in our homes. At the same time, more than 4 million Australians have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months.

Queensland impact start-up Spare Harvest is looking to bridge this divide. The app-based community facilitates the swapping, sharing, selling and sourcing of produce, pantry items, gardening equipment, and much more… “We have left the categories and ways in which people interact very open to make it easy for anyone to participate,” explains company founder Helen Andrew.

Over a period of three and a half years – and with very little technical knowledge –  Helen bootstrapped an online marketplace with 3,000 members and around 300 listings.

An idea to fight food waste – grown in the backyard

And it all started with a problem in Helen’s own backyard. When she traded life in the City and her corporate career in favour of a plot of land on the Sunshine Coast and raising her children, she knew one thing for certain: she wanted to be able to grow her own food and provide her kids with an experience similar to her own childhood in suburban Brisbane.

Helen Andrew is fighting food waste
Spare Harvest founder Helen Andrew. Image credit: Spare Harvest

The Sunshine Coast property looked like it would allow her to fulfill that dream. It had many established fruit trees with the potential to add more varieties over time.

Entrepreneurs

Protecting the Australian stingless native bee

Ann and Jeff Ross became beekeepers by accident. A few years ago, a hive of European honeybees had made themselves at home in one of the walls of Jeff and Ann’s car mechanic shop on the Sunshine Coast. Instead of just getting the hive removed, the couple decided to relocate them to their backyard. And with that they became hobby beekeepers overnight.

Hive Haven co-founder Ann Ross invented the bee box for Australian stingless native bees.
Hive Haven co-founder Ann Ross with version 9 of their bee box. Image credit: Hive Haven

Little did they know at the time that their new hobby would soon turn into a business. Ann and Jeff are the founders of Hive Haven, an Australian agricultural start-up that is one part boutique honey producer and one part award-winning manufacturer of insulated hives designed for the needs of the Australian stingless native bee.  

From hobby beekeeper to industry innovator

“I was doing a business degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast when we got that first hive”, remembers Ann. “While I was studying, Jeff’s interest in bees grew and he started growing his apiary .”

Entrepreneurs

This circular fashion brand is changing the industry from within

The rise of fast fashion has completely changed the way we buy clothing. Trends come and go at the blink of an eye and ever-lowering price tags mean that it hardly seems worthwhile to repair a garment. The result? Globally one garbage truck of textiles is wasted every second.

Courtney Holm, Founder of circular fashion A.BCH
A.BCH founder Courtney Holm

For a long time, making more sustainable style choices could seem like an absolute minefield. Fast fashion brands continue to dominate our malls and even if you are prepared to pay more for your clothing it doesn’t necessarily mean that the garments were made from better quality materials or under better conditions.

The good news is that as consumer awareness around the environmental and social impact of their fashion choices is growing, more and more brands are emerging that adopt more sustainable philosophies.

Courtney Holm is a Melbourne-based designer and the founder of Australia’s first circular fashion label A.BCH. Through local sourcing, the use of 100% traceable material and radical transparency, Courtney is looking to offer consumers the opportunity to make better choices and is working to change the fashion industry from within.

Entrepreneurs

An ethical investment app for the Netflix era

Shun the plastic bag. Eat less meat. Ride your bike instead of driving. Changing the default in our everyday choices is among the most common advice given to anyone looking to lessen their impact on the planet. And while each of these decisions does reduce our personal carbon footprint a little bit, many people are unknowingly undermining their own efforts to lead a more sustainable life through their investments.

Goodments founders Tom Culver and Emily Taylor
Goodments founder team Emily Taylor and Tom Culver

“It’s all well and good to take your KeepCup to the coffee shop, but if you are still investing in companies that depend on fossil fuels there’s a massive misalignment between your values and how you’re going about securing your future in economic terms”, says Tom Culver. To help bridge this gap, the former wealth and investment manager took a leap of faith at the beginning of 2017 and left his stable career to launch the ethical investment start-up Goodments together with his wife Emily Taylor.

Democratising ethical investment

The idea behind Goodments is simple: make it as easy as possible for anyone to invest in recognisable brands that are aligned with their values. The Sydney-based FinTech company is achieving this through a combination of different strategies.

  1. Ditching the finance jargon

“The world of finance is full of unnecessary complexity and language that is completely meaningless to the majority of people”, explains Tom. “That’s why we decided to move away from talking purely about financial returns to emphasising the impact instead.”

Entrepreneurs