Ethical Shopping in NZ

Across the globe, in industries such as mining, farming and clothing and electronics manufacturing, slavery is still rife. But, by not ever-upgrading to the latest, must-have smartphone, by buying local produce whenever possible, taking care to ensure other groceries such as bananas, chocolate and coffee are stamped with the FairTrade label and taking a little time to research where those clothes were actually stitched, we can all do our bit. In fact, in 2014, according to FairTrade Australia New Zealand, Kiwis spent $85 million on FairTrade products, an impressive 28% increase on the previous year.


Furthermore, research group Colmar Brunton concludes seven out of ten New Zealanders want to work for a sustainable employer, while 90% wish to buy ethically sourced and constructed products. Unfortunately, not 90% of us actually do and with all the good will in the world, it’s far easier said than done, especially given, for example, less than one percent of global clothing manufacturing can be certified as ethically produced while TreeHugger estimates three quarters of all Kiwi garments to be made in China. So here’s a selection of local sustainable enterprises looking to help you help put things right.


Local Sustainable Enterprises



This Kiwi clothing company uses only 100% organic certified cotton, seeds that are never genetically modified and employs sustainable farming techniques. The Indian factory where the garments are made sponsors local educational projects while its employees receive benefits such as free transport, union membership, rent subsidies and pensions. All of their kids get free schooling, too.


Miranda Brown

“Our values are natural because I love nature,” says eco-artist-cum-fashion-designer Miranda Brown. Launched in 2002, her label is famed for its use of NZ wool, natural fibres and organic cotton, all hand dyed using natural colours. She also often teams up with NGOs to raise both awareness and donations.


Feral NZ

Choose from a range of ready-made dresses, one-off coats, wrap-around trousers and organic cotton t-shirts, or order customised clobber, from this “eco friendly, fair trade, sustainable fashion design label”. Their wares are all “lovingly made” in New Zealand from organic cotton and ethical natural fabrics.


Untouched World

This gem became the first fashion company in the world to be recognised by the United Nations for their sustainable work. Their manufacturing process considers “the total life impact” of what they produce, using local wools, sustainably grown fibres, organic dyes and water-based prints. One percent of retail sales also goes into their charitable trust.


Trade Aid

Over 800 volunteers help keep this legendary ship sailing smoothly. Members of the World Fair Trade Organisation, the nationwide not-for-profit stores sell and eclectic collection of ethical handmade goods.


Outdoors Stores

It’s only right that lovers of our great outdoors should be at least partly kitted out in clothing that is kind to the environment and those who inhabit it. Kathmandu offer a range of FairTrade organic-certified cotton clothing and also support an Asian-based charitable foundation, while Icebreaker are renowned for their ethical farming practices in order to rear the sheep for their merino wool.


Good Spend Counter

Designed in New Zealand by Ben Gleisner, this app promotes the power of sustainable-friendly spending. It notes when you’ve spent money at ethical eateries, bars and cafes, then shares the information with a range of business to encourage them to increase their ethical investment to attract you and other like-minded souls. Supply and demand, the green way.


Words: Jamie Christian Desplaces