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Environmental news: ethical fashion focus

Keep up to speed with environmental news in the region and beyond. Caring for the planet is more than just recycling. This month, we hear about an eco-tour company in Sumatra Indonesia and sustainable fashion from H&M.


Living Local

Community building programmes in Sumatra
Community building programmes

The Leuser Ecosystem in northern Sumatra, Indonesia (just 45 minutes from Singapore by plane) is the last place where tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants still co-exist, and is regarded as one of the planet’s most biodiverse environments. Communities along the Leuser’s edge live a subsistence lifestyle, and have few ways to earn income other than trapping animals or working in unsustainable oil-palm plantations.

This vulnerable area came to the attention of Australian expat Jess McKelson during her work at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program. Eight years ago, she started an eco-tour company, Raw Wildlife Encounters, to shine a light on this amazing place and to provide employment to the local people.

Along the way, she has set up conservation and community building programmes that deserve a special mention:

  • Rangers of Tangkahan employs a team of 10 rangers to protect the buffer zone around the Leuser.
  • The Sumatran Dog Health Program provides free health care, vaccination and sterilisation for domestic dogs, plus education about the growing dog-meat industry.
  • Kids attend after-school sessions to develop learning skills,and can look forward to a new Environmental Program that will teach them about the importance of the local environment to their future.
  • Community help programme Days for Girls provides feminine hygiene kits and health education to support girls and women to stay at school or in employment.



Don’t toss your old threads!

H&M Conscious Range
H&M Conscious Range

What do you do with that one odd sock that never found its mate? The good news is that unwanted clothing – often discarded with general household waste – can be recycled and reused. Fashion giant H&M has come up with a great way to help solve a mind-boggling environmental challenge.

Rather than ending up in landfill, clothes donated to H&M stores are given a new purpose. Those that can be worn again are donated to the needy all over the world; or they’re recycled and spun into yarn, either for the new H&M Conscious range, or as insulation material. Clothes unsuitable for wearing.


This article first appeared in the May 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

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