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    Q+A with Emily Fletcher from Clean + Conscious Awards

    The Clean + Conscious Awards are run by a team of women who believe that educating people to consume mindfully, at the same time as motivating brands to manufacture responsibly, will affect change on a large scale.

    As winners for the second year in a row, we sat down the Emily Fletcher, one of the co-founders of the Clean + Conscious Awards to find out a little more about where it all started and what goes on behind the scenes.

    What has been the biggest change you’ve seen made by a brand/company since starting your blog? Who has surprised you?

    The biggest change that I have seen has been triggered by the huge awakening that has occurred from consumers educating themselves on ingredient safety. They now expect it from the products they use and vote accordingly with their wallets and loyalty. We really are seeing the rise of the conscious consumer, not only from an ingredient safety viewpoint but the sustainability of ingredients and materials, ethical sourcing and manufacture as well as an expectation for social responsibility to be demonstrated.

    There are of course incredible brands, like Loving Earth, who have been pioneers in the clean and conscious space all along. Without these businesses, there would not have been an alternative for conscious consumers to choose and the movement would not have been possible.

    When I began my blog in 2016, it was focused on looking at ingredients in baby products. One of the first articles I wrote was about choosing non-toxic baby wipes. My findings then had been that about half of the brands I looked at, didn't have what would be considered a non-toxic ingredients list, with many containing hormone-disrupting ingredients. Three years later, the 10 brands I'd flagged with formulations of greatest concern had all been reformulated.

    Conscious consumers have immense power and the ability to change the world for the better.

    Most people wouldn’t know you’re an optometrist by day. Are there any weird crossovers between your day job and running the C+C awards? Any transferable skills?

    Nowadays Clean + Conscious and motherhood keeps me very busy and I work once a fortnight as an Optometrist only. I love Optometry and my biggest passion had always been providing eye care to those who need it most. I have participated in aid clinics all around the world – Peru, South Africa, the Caribbean, India and with remote First Nations and homeless communities in Australia. With motherhood and covid, my ability to travel in that capacity has been stalled. I do very much see Optometry staying in my future and I’d love to take my children along to clinics when they are older and teach them how to help.

    Optometry degrees involve years of advanced science study including chemistry, biology and pharmacology. If it had not been for those years of study, I couldn’t have done the extensive research on ingredients that I do for the Awards and blog. It was this training that originally made me feel obligated to share my research with others and prompted the initiation of my blog in the first place.

    Having a science background, it is very important to me for products to be researched properly and for the information provided to be factually correct and educational for all involved – both for the consumers reading the Clean + Conscious Directory for information and also brands to gain feedback from the judging.

    The finalist products are chosen through an extensive review process. Their ingredients are all scientifically researched to make sure they don’t contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals for example. The products are all hands-on tested and judged on function and also how they meet our Awards criteria in relation to being ethical, sustainable and how socially responsible brands are on a local and global level.

    Finances can often be a barrier to purchase for people with organic products. What would you say is the simplest/cheapest way to non-toxic living?

    The cheapest way to non-toxic living is to first minimise consumption. Conscious consumerism isn’t always a question of what to buy, but also if you need to buy it at all. By minimising our purchases we also minimize our waste – and the amount of money we are spending!

    Before purchasing, ask yourself: Do I need this? Can I borrow this? Could I re-purpose something I have, to fulfil what I need?

    In regard to making your dollar stretch further, my top tips would be:

    • Sign up to a co-op. Buying groups are becoming a very popular way to purchase discounted organic foods.
    • Choosing imperfect produce – it’s usually discounted and tastes the same!
    • Eat produce in season when it is abundant and costs less
    • Cook from scratch from unprocessed ingredients
    • Minimise your meat consumption and eat more plants
    • Invest in good quality reusables and take your food with you when you go to work / go out for the day.
    • Visit the farmers market at closing time to get the biggest discounts.


    When the C+C panel are given the brands to trial, what are they looking for?

    We have an incredible 45 member Expert Panel made up of journalists, eco-leaders, beauty experts, authors, sustainability educators, wellness experts, change-makers, ethical fashion advocates, mothers, nutritionists and much more. We seek to make our panel as diverse and inclusive as possible, with representatives from both the First Nations and disability communities.

    The Expert Panel do hands-on reviews on all the Finalist products. They review the products on the basis of functionality and social responsibility as a whole – including how brands have embraced creating ethical and sustainable products.

    The panellists’ written product reviews are published in the Clean + Conscious Directory, bringing to the Awards their individual expertise as well as a shared vision for a healthier, better world.

    In the Directory, you’ll also discover honest information on each product’s ingredients/materials and further information on how each product is ethical, sustainable and responsible. It’s an incredible resource and it’s so exciting reading through it and realising how many wonderful initiatives you can fund with your dollar when you choose to buy consciously.

    Growing up in the ’90s there wasn’t as much information as there is now about toxins and natural products, and we turned out fine! (or did we? ?) Do you think the impact of toxins is exaggerated when in fact they might be quite minor?

    We live in a world in which man-made chemicals have become a part of everyday life. There are close to 800 industrial made Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) present in things we use every day – from our personal care products to cosmetics, plastics, textiles and food additives. Our babies are even born with up to 200+ chemicals already in their blood, ranging from pesticides to flame retardants.

    These Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals mimic or interact with hormones in the body or their receptors. Hormones and their signals are critical to the normal functioning of every tissue and organ in the body. Effects on these systems can lead to infertility, asthma, learning and memory difficulties, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as a variety of other diseases.

    Research is showing that these diseases and disorders are occurring at our current levels of exposure to EDCs. A pretty confronting reality to accept! This is because even though each exposure from an individual product may be minimal, these chemicals have an additive effect on each other and our own hormones.

    If we look at studies around the world, they are confirming this…

    • Sperm counts have dropped by more than 50% in the past 40 years for men in western countries.
    • Global rates of endocrine-related cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid) have been increasing over the past 40–50 years.
    • The incidence of genital malformations, such as non-descending testes and penile malformations in baby boys has increased, along with preterm birth and babies born with low birth weights.
    • Neuro-behavioural disorders associated with thyroid disruption in children have been increasing.
    • Breast development is occurring earlier in young girls.
    • Obesity and type 2 diabetes have dramatically increased worldwide over the last 40 years.

    It’s a lot! We can also pass the effects of EDCs on; a female foetus in utero is growing the eggs that she will use to have her own children. These chemicals can make their way to those germ cells, too. So for a pregnant woman, her exposure to EDCs can affect both her child and grandchildren too!

    With every month that passes, more studies are showing the detrimental effect that EDCs are having on our health. This is just the beginning unfortunately and there will have to be an urgent worldwide effort and focus to bring it under control.

    What have been some of the benefits and barriers you’ve found working a day job, a side project, and parenting!? How do you split responsibilities in your household?

    Life is quite the juggle at the moment! I’m a full-time parent to my 6-year-old daughter and nearly 4-year-old son. With the current Covid wave and vulnerable family members, I’m registered for homeschooling for term 1, 2022.

    My husband Bez is an amazingly passionate and skilled Dentist. He works 4 long days a week and we collaborate closely to make everything happen as smoothly as possible. 2 days a week – including Saturday, I work full days and for the other weekdays, I get in about 3 hours of work by waking up early in the morning, whilst the house is still asleep!

    The benefit of the juggle is being able to be so present with my children whilst they are young. They grow up so quickly and I feel very privileged to spend the time I do with them. The barriers are being time-poor! I have to stay very organised and focused to fit everything in. Sometimes it is very much mind over matter - many an afternoon I power through with the help of your amazing Loving Earth chocolate!

    Given your busy life, what’s your favourite way to de-stress? 

    I find moving my body daily a great way to release stress and bring me back to the present moment. For it to actually work as a de-stress though, I think it has to be fun. I swim regularly and twice a week I go to a Hapkido martial arts class. I love the physicality of it and learning a new skill that pushes me out of my comfort zone.

    You are about to get on a plane and travel to an unknown destination by yourself for a week, what are the first five things you pack in your suitcase/carry on?

    By myself! A new concept! I haven’t had a night away from my children yet ever, let alone a week! However, I would pack…

    1. A zinc-based non-toxic sunscreen – I have fair skin and can’t get away on any day without it.
    2. A broad-brimmed hat – A necessity - I love being outside and enjoying the beauty of nature.
    3. A stack of books – I have a never-ending thirst for learning about environmental chemicals, sustainability and personal development.
    4. A journal – I have heard that daily journaling is so beneficial and yet I have never had the time to make it a habit. If I had a week to myself, I’d love to be able to begin this and spend time being creative and goal setting.
    5. Ethical chocolate. I’m not a drinker and chocolate is definitely my vice. It is very important to me that child labour played no part in the products I use and I am careful to always choose chocolate that has been sourced and made ethically.

    Loving Earth was stoked to win the Sustainable award two years in a row. What made the judges choose us?

    The Clean + Conscious Social Responsibility Award is awarded to businesses that lead change and are committed to making a positive impact on society.  Of the 250+ brands that entered the Clean + Conscious Awards this year, just eight Social Responsibility Award winners were selected. Each of the winning brands demonstrated a clear commitment to acting in the best interests of the health of our planet and society as a whole.

    Social Responsibility permeates from the heart of Loving Earth. Your efforts to create change, protect the planet and make a positive impact on society are nothing short of phenomenal.

    All of Loving Earth’s wildcrafted ingredients honour the indigenous people that have cultivated them for thousands of years, as well as the earth and ecosystems in which they are grown – working with the Ashaninka community in Peru, the Twin Lakes mob in The Kimberley, and coconut farmers in Indonesia. Through product manufacturing, Loving Earth gives back to these communities thereby adding more value to their work and increasing the revenue they generate for their families.

    In order to be sustainable, Loving Earth ensures that all ingredients are produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides and herbicides, and cultivated in such a way as to help restore native ecosystems, prevent erosion and support water conservation. The company uses traditional permaculture systems, which where possible, are shade-grown using native canopy species.

    All Loving Earth’s products are made in a factory with solar power and the brand uses home compostable packaging and vegetable inks, as well as biofill packaging for sending out products. In addition, the brand’s office is dedicated to recycling.

    Loving Earth supports local and national charities, such as Greenpeace’s Sea Shepherd, through their promotional activity.

    The past decade has seen the ‘wellness wave’ hit its peak, what do you see on the horizon as the next thing in conscious living?

    I’m excitedly watching the rise of the conscious consumer. Conscious consumerism is the understanding that every time we spend money, we are making a vote with our wallet, on the kind of world we want to support. It involves making informed and intentional purchases that align with one’s values.

    This movement is effecting widespread change across all industries from food and nutrition to beauty, personal care, fashion, banking, electricity and superannuation. With each new individual who joins in, it gains power and momentum. Not only does conscious consumerism make us feel congruent with our values and good about ourselves, but it’s also incredibly empowering knowing that our individual actions are having a true impact.

    For those who are looking for an easy way to make conscious choices, our Clean + Conscious directory was created to make this process as straightforward as possible. Here, you’ll discover honest information on each product’s ingredients/materials and further information on how each product is ethical, sustainable and responsible. It’s so exciting to be able to read about all the wonderful initiatives you can support with your dollar. The power to change the world for the better really is in our hands.


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