Today on The Brave Discussion we feature an event coming up in Melbourne next month which I will be covering. Known as Moral Fairground, it is the largest fair- trade and ethical festival in Australia and it was started by Melbourne banker, Susanna Bevilacqua as a result of her visit to some of the poorest countries in South East Asia and witnessing first hand the working conditions and environmental impact of mass consumerism.
Held annually, it’s a timely event too, just weeks before Christmas (November 30 – December 2 ) and will encourage sustainable purchases when more often these days people want to give gifts with meaning or purpose.
There is significant evidence that Australian consumers are increasingly demanding transparency on how products are made, who made them, and their environmental footprint. While fair-trade labelled products only launched in Australia in 2005, the industry had already reached AUD$120 million by 2010. The only insight I would add is it is a pity we still don’t see Fair Trade retailing more mainstream. Yes, there are retail outlets now available but generally you have to seek them out.
For Susanna however, she was not one to be daunted and decided to take the event to the streets.. Despite never organising an event before, Susanna set out to seek corporate sponsorship and a venue, to build awareness and educate about ethical, socially responsible and environmentally aware businesses through a series of events. Within months she had Federation Square on board as a venue, and support from some of Australia’s most renowned brands – Oxfam, Cadbury and Lush – and signature event, Fair@Square, was born.
In the first year alone, more than 40 other Australian businesses took part in the event, which attracted 20,000 visitors. Just two years later she had doubled that, with 80 businesses involved and visitor numbers at more than 75,000.
While still not paying herself, Susanna, who still works in the banking industry, says she prefers to see the money invested back into the event. She says it’s about creating a business where she can inject vital funds back into fair-trade communities.
“It’s not about just doing something that makes me feel good and pays, I want real change.”
It seems consumers generally want the same. Recent research undertaken by the Mobium Group in conjunction with the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand revealed 90% of adult consumers want retailers to offer eco-labelled products and more than 80% of Australians wanted clearer and simpler information on its benefit and impacts.
If you are Melbourne based we have two free tickets to the Fair Fashion Show, worth $30.00 each on Friday 30 November at BMW Edge – Fair Square – the only ethical fashion show of its kind in Melbourne. To win, just write yes please. The first two comments who indicate this will be selected.