The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: Melbourne local, Ben Cartland — September 17, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Ben Cartland

This interview is by our new Melbourne ambassador Deb Itzkowic aka @debitz.

Name: Ben Cartland
Twitter: @bencartland

Introducing Ben…

Ben is not your ordinary recruiter. Originally hailing from the UK, he has over 10 years experience working in the ever-growing sector of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Now based in Melbourne, Ben is working with pb Human Capital in this emerging sector in Australia. Ben’s role is to be across the movers and shakers in the Australian sustainability and CSR sector, to connect the dots and find talented people that can influence change. He explains that what leading companies are looking for today in the area of CSR are environmentally minded strategic thinkers, people who can influence how companies are run from the inside.

So what exactly is ‘sustainability’ and CSR?

CSR and ‘sustainability’ are interchangeable terms that describe a company’s commitment to operate using ethical and sustainable business practices. Ben explains that embracing sustainability provides companies with an opportunity to operate commercially viable businesses and at the same time be responsible global citizens.

Why are companies embracing CSR today?

The drivers for companies embracing sustainability and CSR are threefold. Firstly, there is the obvious compliance ‘stick’, for example the introduction of the carbon trading scheme which legislates standards that companies must meet in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. Secondly, there is the ‘carrot’, being commercial success, for example increased profit due to reduced energy usage or other intangible outcomes such as staff retention or brand awareness. Finally, there is consumer demand for companies to embrace these changes, which in Ben’s experience is not as pressing in Australia as overseas.

What is happening in the Australian sustainability market?

Ben explains that while this sector has been up and running overseas, especially in Europe and America, Australia is just now beginning to catch up.
Although social and environmental risk management has always been on the agenda, leading companies today are embracing corporate social responsibility in a whole new way and incorporating these ideas, such as sustainability, into their core business.

Ben cites Telstra’s digital inclusion program (ensuring that rural and remote communities have access to the internet) as one example of a strategy that assists local communities while at the same time provides Telstra with valuable commercial outcomes (such as brand awareness).

How can I become involved in the CSR sector?

Ben recommends degrees in environmental science and business strategy are a good place to start. An alternative route is to work within the organisation you are already a part of to influence how it operates for example, by recycling office paper and reducing carbon emissions, to giving employees opportunities to contribute to the community, to ensuring that your company implements an ethical supply chain.

Tell us about your commitment to carbon neutral travel…

Ben doesn’t just talk the talk, he also does his bit to reduce carbon emissions by riding the streets of Melbourne to and from work each day. I asked him what is his favourite bike accessory? The resounding answer is: ‘lights – great for vision at night’.

Event Review: Undress 101: Sustainable Fashion Network Night — August 20, 2012

Event Review: Undress 101: Sustainable Fashion Network Night

Undress Brisbane

When: Friday 17 August 2012
Where: X&Y Bar, Fortitude Valley
Organised by: Undress Brisbane
Recap by: Brisbane Ambassador, Amilia Cunningham

After working a 10 hour day running an event at work, you’d think the last thing I would want to do would be to go to another event, but having heard great things about Undress Brisbane, I didn’t want to miss it.

Now, to be honest, my knowledge of the fashion industry comes from a couple of magazines, and that recent US reality show, Fashion Star. To sum it up, I pretty much know nothing. I particularly didn’t know how unsustainable some industry practices were.  So I went along to Undress 101: Sustainable Fashion Network Night for The Fetch Brisbane to scope out what’s happening in the sustainable fashion realm.

Downstairs at X&Y, the music was pumping and the mojitos were cheap. My sidekick and I were amongst a small, happy group of mostly women, to hear all about sustainable fashion from three guest speakers.

To quote Undress Brisbane themselves, sustainable fashion is about being friendly to the environment, and responsible for our resources.  With that in mind, they’ve created a number of events to showcase fashion, designers and organisations where sustainability is core to their values.

The first speaker up in the Q&A session was Louise Falzon, from sustainable fashion label, A Pot of Tea Under a Tree.  Inspired by her grandmother, Louise knew at a young age that she wanted to be a fashion designer. But as she studied fashion, the realisation hit that industry practice was too incongruent to her own personal values and style. After a bit of soul searching, traveling and plenty of drawing, Louise began her own fashion label, and now creates beautiful custom pieces using only sustainable fabrics and mostly sustainable design practices.

After a brief break, we were introduced to the next speakers, Rozina Suliman and Brooke Nelson from Reverse Garbage, a not-for-profit co-operative promoting environmental sustainability.  They have a warehouse in Woolloongabba, selling offcuts and discarded industrial materials that may have ended up as garbage (tip: if you love to search DIY on Pinterest for inspired craft ideas, I encourage you to head to Reverse Garbage to see what you can pick up). Rozina and Brooke talked about the ethos of the organisation and how they’ve expanded to include Reverse Emporium, where they sell beautiful items that have already been repurposed from random bits and pieces in the warehouse.  Reverse Garbage also runs a series of workshops, for both kids and adults, to educate people about the environment in a fun, arty way.

So, summing up, what did you miss? A fun girl’s night out with a great message about how we can all be a little more sustainable.

The next Undress Brisbane event is the annual fashion show, on October 13 2012.

About Amilia: Amilia Cunningham coordinates professional development events for QUT Business School students.  In her spare time, she loves to tackle big projects, her most recent one – building her house.  In her downtime, she’s an avid pinner, and loves nothing more than hanging out with her nieces and nephew.

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