As we have told you folks, we source our products almost exclusively from within Australia in order to minimise our carbon footprint. We do have exceptions to our rule, where we have weighed the cost of the carbon miles against the benefits the product or business provides to the earth and/or local communities. We are always looking for new suppliers that meet our criteria, be they Australian or overseas. We love companies that create more goodness in the world and make it a better place. Recently , we’ve been looking at some producers that fall into the category of social enterprises (we’ll talk about this a bit more next week) and which do some pretty amazing work around the globe (as well as making some nifty and beautiful products). Today, we’ve been looking at FunkyJunk. No, not that terrible song Funky Junky by Peter Andre, it’s okay. That’s a totally different kettle of fish. FunkyJunk! FunkyJunk is a Cambodian-located enterprise that produces a brilliant range of bags and home furnishings using discarded plastic bags.
FunkyJunk was founded by the not-for-profit travel tour operator, Carpe Diem Travel. They are a really interesting company and it is worth reading a bit about the projects on which they work; they encourage responsible travel and their aim is to provide direct, material benefit to the destinations visited by their customers. And they’re not all talk. FunkyJunk is an offshoot of their desire to positively impact the places their customers visit and we’re incredibly impressed by what they do. Cambodia is one of Carpe Diem’s most popular destinations, but poverty, poor education and an expanding population have all contributed to build ups of non-biodegradable waste and litter on the roadsides. FunkyJunk was designed to address the threat of non-biodegradable plastic bags to the health of the population and livestock, as well as to provide a sustainable and regular source of income for local people. FunkyJunk partners with Cambodian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to ensure that after a period of training, production is largely self-managed by locals on the principles of fair trade and self-sustainability. Workers for FunkyJunk earn much-needed regular incomes, enabling them to send their children to school rather than having them work in the fields as a means of survival. Workers are also provided the opportunity to attend English classes and be involved in savings schemes amongst other benefits. You can read more about FunkyJunk’s operation here and here. We think FunkyJunk is having a really positive affect on the local people involved in the business and on the environment.
The FunkyJunk team use the discarded plastic bags the workers have collected from the streets to make a durable and colourful yarn. The yarn is then weaved or crocheted into bright and unique items like shopping bags and floor cushions. The natural colours of the plastic bags are retained; they are not dyed or chemically processed, but are sorted by colour after washing, and used to create a gorgeous array of patterns and palettes in the products. Age and sunshine lighten the colours naturally; the colour scheme of each item is truly one of a kind. To date, FunkyJunk have cleared over 500 000 bags from the environment! Wowee! That’s over 500 000 bags that are no longer clogging drains and potentially causing the flooding of sewerage and other nasties into the already flood-prone Cambodian streets. 500 000 bags stopped from leaching toxic chemicals into the earth or existing as a choking hazard for animals and small children. Not only have they been removed, but repurposed into beautiful, durable, useful items. This is just the kind of overseas enterprise we want to support; it is making a tangible difference to the environment and the community. It is also an enterprise that could expand to other developing countries, which the founders sound keen to do. What do you think? Check out their wares on their website and let us know your thoughts. We think the floor cushions look perfect for lounging on the patio during an autumn afternoon watching the sun set or, when the nights get cold, sitting on the floor of your lounge with friends, playing a competitive game of Trivial Pursuit. And the shopping bags look just right for stuffing with organic produce on a trip to the local organic farmer’s market or carrying a load of books back to the library!
Now, we’re not sure if they’d be too funky for George Michael, but they certainly aren’t too funky for The Goodness Bureau! We are currently working with the lovely folks at FunkyJunk to bring some of these awesome products to you all and we expect them in stock in April. We will keep you updated on their arrival date as the year progresses!