TGL news: 2020 is here and we’re building resilience

TGL news

woman smiling
Grace Brennan, #buyfromthebush founder

Hello Greenlisters and friends,

In our first newsletter for the year, it would be easy to wail and gnash our teeth about the state of the planet and the climate emergency. But instead, we’ve decided to take inspiration from the bush – and one particular part of the bush – and talk about resilience.

Last October, resident of Warren in NSW, farmer’s wife and a mother of small children, Grace Brennan, sat at her kitchen table and started an Instagram account called #buyfromthebush.

If you haven’t already heard of it, #buyfromthebush is a grassroots social media campaign urging city people to buy directly from producers, artists, artisans and retailers in rural and regional Australia at a time when, arguably, the bush has never needed more help.

The campaign has been phenomenally successful. In its first six weeks, it generated $2.6 million worth of revenue for featured businesses, created 25 jobs in rural communities because of increased sales, while more than $320,000 was spent at Australia Post’s regional franchises. And that was all before the Christmas rush.

The campaign has opened up a conversation linking city and country; a conversation not between politicians and business moguls, but between the people. It was a small idea that, because of its simplicity (see it; like it; buy it) and its generosity, has grown to become a big retail movement.

Grace says #buyfromthebush isn’t about charity; it is about re-directing the power of the consumer to unique retail businesses in rural areas that city people wouldn’t otherwise discover. It’s an investment in rural sustainability.

In her 2020 Australia Day address, Grace asked everyone to tell a different story about the bush – not the story of soul-destroying drought and ravishing bushfires – but a story that connect all Australians to the bush and makes us feel pride not pity for those who live there.

We could easily make resilience our war cry for 2020. And as Grace says, not everything important has to start in the boardroom. Great things can happen at the kitchen table.

At The Green List, we have already joined the global movement towards sustainable business. Help us keep the momentum going.

Thank you all for your support, and here’s some ideas to keep you on the sustainable path.

Why not stay in the bush?

Grace Brennan has also started a social media campaign, #stayinthebush, advertising accommodation everywhere from Little Hartley in the Blue Mountains to cattle stations in Wagga Wagga and farm stays in Tasmania.

And, of course, there is Tourism Australia’s domestic tourism campaign, “Holiday Here This Year”, launched in the wake of devastating bushfires that had prompted thousands of Australian and international visitors to cancel their holidays not just in January but throughout summer, and beyond, in some cases.

Bushfire donations giving tree

While on the subject of bushfires, sustainability consultancy Edge Environment has been fielding calls from community and sustainability managers asking for advice on where to direct their corporate philanthropic funds.

Some callers wanted their money directed to help with the bigger picture of climate change mitigation and bush fire prevention; some wanted to help wildlife; while others wanted to support grass roots organisations.

Failing to find a single, easy-to-access source of answers, Edge created its own “decision tree” to help people work out where to donate. It’s an early draft and not an exhaustive list, and focuses on charities and not-for-profits that are accepting cash donations.

You can find a link to the tree at the bottom of this page. If you have heard of other groups helping with bushfire recovery, contact Edge to have them added to the list.

Money talks

On the world stage, UK billionaire Chris Hohn has joined the growing list of big fund managers to eschew climate change-related risk.

Hohn, who manages the world’s best-performing large hedge fund of 2019, TCI Fund Management, which has $US30 billion ($44 billion) in assets, wants portfolio companies to dramatically cut their greenhouse gas emissions and disclose their carbon footprint. Hohn has threatened to oust recalcitrant boards or sell shares in their companies.
And, it’s not just where people won’t put their money but where they will put it.
Sustainable finance – any form of financial service which integrates environmental, social or governance criteria into business or investment decisions – is taking off. A Climate Bonds Standard now underpins certification of more than US$100 billion worth of green bonds and debt products around the world and growing.

It just goes to show: money really does talk.