Considerately choosing that we can do better

The Sustainable Hour no. 504 | Transcript | Podcast notes

Our guests in The Sustainable Hour no. 504 are Tim Schmidt, president of the Australian Hemp Council, and sustainable fashion designer Simi Diskin.

The Sustainable Hour no. 504 covers topics such as the potential of the hemp industry, sustainable fashion, the role of gas in Australia’s energy industry, a Geelong meeting about the forming of a local Community Independents support group, and through the entire hour: the need for bolder action on climate change.

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Tim Schmidt talks about the challenges and opportunities in the hemp industry. A Northern Tasmanian farmer who grazes sheep and cattle and grows potatoes and hemp, he is the founding president of the Australian Hemp Council. In this role he represents around 300 hemp growers, processors and other industrial stakeholders right across Australia.

Hemp is four times more effective in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere than forestry. Currently there are about 3,000 hectares of hemp grown in Australia, and Tim takes us through the vast range of uses of the plant, including building materials, insulation, clothes, medicine, pesticides, nutrimentals and flavours. Someone’s even developed a hemp battery.

You can connect with Tim on his Linkedin page.

The Australian Hemp Council’s website can be found here:

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Simi Diskin explores the themes of sustainable fashion and the impact of the fashion industry on the environment. She talks about the need for a shift towards choosing for the planet and prioritising ecology over profits. She shares her experiences in creating sustainable fashion and upcycling clothing. She also touches on the challenges we face in promoting sustainable practices and the importance of reconnecting with nature.

Simi is a mother and a climate activist. She advocates for planet justice considerately, creatively and accountably by recreating through regenerating new upcycled artistry under the OKIMMI brand. Here she proves that when we choose for planet first before everything, we ignite a universal sustainable language of endless creatively.

You can follow Simi’s exciting work with OKIMMI and fashion on Instagram.

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In the opening of the Hour, we listen to Senator David Pocock give a speech in Parliament.

The songs we play are Finneas’ ‘What They’ll Say About Us’ from 2020, and Taylor Swift’s ‘Only The Young’ from 2020.

The Hour concludes with a reflection on the current political climate and the potential for change through the Community Independents movements. A meeting is held about this topic tomorrow, Thursday 23 May 2024, at Beav’s Bar in Geelong.

Find more detailed information, including Colin Mockett’s Global Outlook, below on this page in the transcript.

. . .

That’s it for another fascinating episode of The Sustainable Hour. We hope that both our guests Tim and Simi have provoked your thoughts on what is possible when life is approached through the lens of sustainability. Both show that we don’t have to follow the path of business as usual, which is only going to lead to more deaths and destruction. Both of them are driven by the belief that it doesn’t have to be like that and are actively working towards a safer, more just, inclusive, peaceful and healthy world. A world where they can make a living based on what is enough, regeneration and conscious choices. We wish them both all the very best in their endeavours and will be back next week with more food for thought and feeling. 

#BeConsiderate #BeTheChange #BeTheDifference

“I do believe industry can shift sustainably and turn a profit. I do believe that my work is highly profitable and endlessly creative. It’s collectability and tradeability that then shifts a toxic, never-ending, polluting industry to a revaluing, sustainable industry that collects and trades instead. So it gives hope for a fashion industry to stay creative and do it considerately for the planet as they do. I’m just an anti-new type of gal. I really am. I have proven with the way I produce, I’m like a horse kicking at the stalk because I want to get out there and really show that this is an answer to, it’s but one, but it’s an answer to using the waste that’s out there and rescuing and saving and creating and regenerating a new sustainable economy and proving that we can do it.”
~ Simi Diskin, founder of OKIMMI Reimagining Fashion

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We at The Sustainable Hour would like to pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which we
are broadcasting, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respect to their elders, past, present and future.

The traditional owners lived in harmony with the land. They nurtured it and thrived in often harsh conditions for millennia before they were invaded. Their land was then stolen from them – it wasn’t ceded. It is becoming more and more obvious that, if we are to survive the climate emergency we are facing, we have much to learn from their land management practices.

Our battle for climate justice won’t be won until our First Nations brothers and sisters have their true justice. When we talk about the future, it means extending our respect to those children not yet born, the generations of the future – remembering the old saying that, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”
The decisions currently being made around Australia to ignore the climate emergency are being made by those who won’t be around by the time the worst effects hit home. How disrespectful and unfair is that?

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Simi Diskin’s post on

Choosing considerately

The expression “choosing considerately” means making choices with careful thought and consideration, often with regard to the impact on others or the environment.

This phrase implies a thoughtful and deliberate decision-making process.

For example, when planning a community event, we should focus on choosing considerately to ensure both inclusivity and sustainability.

If you want to emphasise the careful and thoughtful nature of decision-making, this phrase works well.

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→ ABC News – 24 February 2024:
Hemp is a superfood, can replace plastics and is ‘even used in BMWs’. So why isn’t Australia embracing it?
“Hemp can be used for everything from building materials to plastics. It’s a superfood, with a low-carbon footprint. But Australian production is lagging far behind Canada, China and other countries.”

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Geelong Council launches ‘Our Climate Actions’ interactive site


As the City of Greater Geelong recognises the growing importance of taking care of our environment, we’re excited to introduce the ‘Our Climate Actions’ interactive site.

This initiative provides an opportunity to explore how the City and the community are working together to protect our local area and deal with the changes happening in our climate.

By visiting the site, community members can learn about things like renewable energy projects that help reduce pollution, efforts to save local plants and animals, smart ways we are running our buildings and facilities, and programs that teach people about climate change and how they can help.

Mayor Trent Sullivan said the ‘Our Climate Actions’ interactive site is a fantastic resource.

“It’s more than just showing off what we’ve done so far. It’s a way for everyone to learn about how we’re tackling climate change together,” Cr Sullivan said.

“The interactive site provides an opportunity for the community to be a part of the solution by increasing their understanding about different projects, like using more clean energy, protecting nature, and spreading awareness about climate change.”

Environment and Circular Economy portfolio chair, Councillor Peter Murrihy, said everyone, from individuals to big organisations, can do their part to help and our new ‘Our Climate Action’ interactive site will assist immensely.

“By working together and making real changes, we can make a big difference for the future of our region,” Councillor Murrihy said.

“While the ‘Our Climate Actions’ interactive site doesn’t cover everything we’re doing, we’ll keep updating it regularly. In addition, we’ll share progress reports as we aim to reach our goal of having zero emissions across the whole municipality by 2035.

“The City would like everyone in our community to get involved and see the innovative projects and ideas we’ve put into action.”

To learn more about the City’s climate actions visit Our Climate Action Interactive site.

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Transcript of The Sustainable Hour no. 504

Admiral Neil Morisetti, retired Royal Navy officer, professor of climate and resource security at University of College London:
We know enough to know that we’ve got to act and we need to act now. Governments will only act when they’re under pressure from the electorate and it’s in our hands as the electorate to put that pressure on governments to act in our benefit and interest.

The Sustainable Hour. For a green, clean, sustainable Geelong. The Sustainable Hour.

Anthony Gleeson:
Welcome to The Sustainable Hour. We’d like to acknowledge that we’re broadcasting from the land of the Wadawurrung people. We pay tribute to their elders, past, present, and those that earn that great honour in the future.

We’re broadcasting from stolen land, land that was never ceded. We can’t hope to have any form of climate justice without justice for First Nations peoples. And we have so much to learn from the ancient wisdom that they honed from nurturing their land and their communities for millennia before they were invaded and their land stolen.

Senator David Pocock:
The first myth is that we’re running out of gas. We’re not. We export around 75 per cent of our gas and to liquefy that gas takes twice as much gas as every household in the country consumes. So if the major parties are serious about avoiding a gas shortage, let’s legislate a domestic reservation policy. Let’s do that tomorrow.

This is the political will that’s been missing. This is what happens when you have state capture by the gas industry of the Labor Party, of the Liberal and National parties. The second myth is that gas is important because gas companies make a large contribution to revenue. This is wrong again. In 2022, export revenue for LNG was close to $93 billion Australian dollars. That’s more than double the federal government education budget for the same period and yet not a single cent of petroleum resource rent tax was paid.

Company tax, you hear them say. Australian nurses paid three times as much tax as the gas industry in that year. And the government knows all that. They know this. And that is why the Treasury, despite the Future Gas Strategy, didn’t mention gas once in the budget. They know this is a betrayal. They know this is betrayal of Australians and of the Great Barrier Reef. At 2°C degrees, the Great Barrier Reef dies. 99 per cent of it, according to the government. More fossil fuels leads to two degrees. We need to stop this.

Mik Aidt:
Senator David Pocock speaking in the Australian parliament in Canberra. I say, yes: we need more Pococks in parliament! We also need more Zali Steggalls and Monique Ryans in parliament! The Community Independents, you know – they talk about ‘state capture’ and really, we talk about betrayal when a government says it’s going to act on climate change and then it comes out with a gas strategy that says we’re going to extract more gas even after 2050. At a time when all authorities on the planet – and when I say authorities, I mean, like, the United Nations, the International Energy Agency, scientists, report after report, IMF, and so on – everyone is saying, “If we want to have a safe future, there can be no more gas projects.”

No more new gas, no more new coal and gas projects. That’s what the politicians should very well know. So thank God we have David Pocock speaking truth to power. Here in Geelong and the Surf Coast region, our question should be: Could we find a person similar to David Pocock or Zali Steggall? – a community independent, who would run at the next federal election here in our two electorates, or at least in one of them?

And there is already a Voices of Corangamite website where you can sign up. There’ll be a meeting this Thursday. It’s still not completely decided whether that will be the founding meeting of Voices of Corangamite, but it looks like that that is what’s going to happen. That happens at five o ‘clock tomorrow at Beav’s Bar, possibly a place where you can make your contribution and be part of changing history in our little Geelong. This is Geelong Calling.

Jingle (radio voice from resistance radio during Second World War):
This is London calling. This is London calling

Mik Aidt:
But the world is calling as well and let’s hear what’s happening around the world. Colin Mockett OAM, what do you have for us today?

Colin Mockett:
Yes, thank you, Mik. I think before I give you the World Roundup, we should make the point that David Pocock is an independent senator. And virtually every word that he said in parliament should have already been delivered by our Greens.

But our Green Party seems to have become mired in gender politics and they are not carrying the climate message as much as the Independents are. So you’re right. It’s time now to sort of sidestep the Greens and show them what they should be doing by putting Independents who are taking the correct message, the correct climate message. Having said that, let’s start with the World Roundup.

Our roundup this week begins in London, where environmental groups have been suing the British government, saying it’s not doing enough to meet the UK’s climate change commitments. And Britain’s High Court found in their favour, meaning the British Secretary of State now has 12 months to strengthen the nation’s climate change efforts in line with the promises of past governments.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Clive Sheldon, agreed with Client Earth and friends of the Earth that the Secretary of State had failed on four counts to set in place policies that would achieve 100 per cent of their intended emissions cuts. The judge said that the Secretary of State had acted irrationally on the basis of an incorrect understanding of the facts. In simple terms, he said that she didn’t understand her own job.

The Brits have got a general election coming up at the end of the year and it shambles if a Conservative government is odds on to lose office. It says something when your own ministers are taken to court and lose and told by the justices that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Home here in Australia now and figures released at the weekend show that Western Australia has set new climate change records but in the wrong direction. The state has set new record highs for its greenhouse gas emissions. It beat its 2015 levels by 20 per cent. At the current rate, it’ll miss its already weak targets of reaching net zero by 2060. And this report, which was prepared for the WA government itself and attained by the ABC, was released on the same day as another scientific paper which predicted that if emissions are not drastically cut, the Northern Territory will, along with other communities in Africa and Asia, become uninhabitable to humans at certain times of the year by 2050. It’s that close.

Meanwhile, last week’s federal government, which you touched on in David Pocock’s speech, it was met with mixed reception on its climate change efforts. It was roundly slammed by environmental groups for its backflip to adopt the former Conservative government’s gas, fuel and carbon capture climate policies, which were basically written by the fossil fuel industry. But it was praised by leaders of industry for its $22 billion budget centrepiece that’s aimed at sharpening the nation’s competitiveness.

The ‘Future Made in Australia’ scheme was praised for including $13.7 billion in tax incentives for the domestic production of zero emissions hydrogen and the processing and refining of 31 critical minerals that would help build electric batteries and renewable energy infrastructure in the future. But again, this was basically put forward decades ago by the fuel industry.

Then it was greenwashing, now it’s adopted as part of the budget. The budget also delivered a boost to a planned green hydrogen industry, including a $2 per kilo tax credit for production of the fuel. Green hydrogen is considered a promising future fuel due to its potential displacement of gas and help decarbonise processes that cannot be simply electrified.

‘Australia is back in the global green hydrogen race with this budget.’ said Joanna Cave, the head of Zero Carbon Hydrogen Australia, which is a mining industry think tank and body. But probably better was the powerful investors who threw their support behind the federal government’s green energy focus. The investor group on climate change, the IGCC, it’s a coalition of 104 global and local institutional investors that includes Australia Super, Sebus, Fidelity, BlackRock and Vanguard. They described the support package as a down payment in Australia becoming a magnet for capital. Debbie Blakey, who’s the head of superannuation giant HESTA, said the focus on commodities vital to the energy shift was a crucial step towards scaling up mining operations, strengthening supply chains and helping Australia to meet its net zero emissions target. We shall wait and see. They all sound like upgrades of what were greenwashing efforts of the past to me.

But meanwhile, back in Britain, the United Kingdom arm of Aldi Supermarkets has announced that all of its plastic bottles for its water and soft drinks, are now made from recycled plastic or RPET as it’s called in the UK. Now this wasn’t a statement of intention. It’s happening now in all Aldi supermarkets in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland are yet to adopt the scheme because they have different factories, but the structure is there and Aldi UK appears to be setting environmental benchmarks and challenging the other supermarkets to follow their lead.

Do you remember back at the beginning of the year when Aldi UK announced that all of its supermarkets are now solar powered? It’s really setting quite a firm agenda. And let’s hope that our supermarkets and those around the world are all taking note and they’re all, let’s say that the people, customers should move their custom to where environmentally friendly supermarkets are working and that will be probably the only way that will shift the other supermarkets into following. And that small positive note ends my round up for the week.

Listen to our Sustainable Hour – for the future.

Anthony Gleeson:
Our first guest today is Tim Schmidt. Tim is a farmer from Northern Tasmania. On that farm he grazes cattle and grows potatoes and industrial hemp. He’s also the founding president of the Australian Hemp Council. In that role, he represents around 300 hemp growers, processors and other industrial stakeholders. So Tim, welcome to The Sustainable Hour. Thanks for coming on.

Tim Schmidt:
Thank you very much, Anthony.

Anthony Gleeson:
How does a potato and cattle grazier end up becoming the president of the Australian Hemp Association?

Tim Schmidt:
I’ve been involved in advocacy for the hemp industry for quite a number of years, starting with the Tasmanian Hemp Association. The thing about hemp is that the more you learn about it, the more fascinating it is. It takes you into a big vortex of sort-of advocacy and just to see the opportunities that are about even at a global level are quite extraordinary. One of the greatest challenges is over regulation and a certain amount of ignorance in the community – where people are more focused on the marijuana aspects of cannabis and fairly unaware of the massive range of opportunities that can be generated from the hemp industry for the community. And some of these opportunities are fair square in the sustainable global issue matrix, which is something I’m happy to talk about today.

Mik Aidt:
How is it going with the industry overall? I’m assuming that there must be like a lot of growth in the area?

Tim Schmidt:
There’s a lot of growth of expectation, but yeah, actual physical growth. For example, the last 12 months in Australia, there was about 3,000 hectares of hemp grown. About half is for seed for food and the other half was for fiber. Probably the most significant in relation to growth, is the fact that, say, four years ago, only 4 per cent or 3 per cent of the crop was fiber. This last 12 months, it was 50 per cent. And there’s some significant development occurring in the processing facilities within Australia for hemp fiber products. So there is growth, there is certainly growth, but from a very low base.

Colin Mockett:
I’m aware that hemp in the past has been used for rope making and sack making, you know, but they seem to be sort of 19th century uses. What use is hemp in the 21st century?

Tim Schmidt:
The hemp industry is a multi-layered complex industry, which many people are not quite aware of. As far as the council’s concerned, we’ve segmentised the areas that we address hemp with into the categories of food, fiber, fodder, extracts and carbon.

So if you’re addressing the food aspect, in November 2017, it was made legal to sell hemp food in Australia. The main things there is the hemp seed and then hemp seed oil, extremely healthy products for you. And they’ve got a myriad of applications through other food products.

A byproduct of this process is in the fodder space. The APVMA recently declared that hemp seed oil is a veterinary chemical, which is, we think, a very erroneous action. So what that means is that an $8 million market developed utilising byproduct from hemp food being sold to livestock and companion animals or in products that feed those animals has effectively been cancelled out because of this action from the APVMA and the AHC, the Australian Hemp Council Fodder Group is just about to launch a CRCP, a project hopefully with some government funding to address this issue in allowing for the byproducts to be utilised in these extra markets which in turn provide extra revenue streams for hemp growers and bring sustainability and profitability through to the industry. So food fiber, the fiber is a very, very multi layered part of the industry. You’ve got the basic bread and butter items which are hemp creek which is used for building houses.

Only just recently Hexcore has developed a module that is bushfire proof. They’ve still got to refine the development, but they’ve proven proof of process with a trial with the CSIRO. They applied a thousand degrees in a fire to this wall for 10 minutes and the temperature inside the building went from 27 degrees to 30 degrees. This is a major game changer. Your Spocker, some of you might be familiar with, was very much involved in that.

So there’s lots of other aspects of hemp building that are quite positive. One of them in particular is carbon sequestration where it locks up carbon. There’s other bread and butter products is pet bedding of which there’s a massive market. Garden mulch, hemp is ideal for garden mulch. And then there’s a whole bunch of other fibre applications. Someone’s developed a hemp battery. There’s insulation. There’s already hemp fibres present in some various vehicles. And then from the fibre, I mean, there’s lots of other applications, but then you’ve got the extracts, which are essentially the terpenes and the cannabinoids and flavonoids that can be extracted from the leaf. Those have got a huge range of applications, including natural pesticides, nutrimentals and flavours, additives, preservatives, a whole bunch of things that can be applied to food and human consumables that are completely natural. And then of course, you’ve got the carbon aspect where we’re working on methodologies, etc. where it’s generally known that hemp is four times more effective in sequestering carbon than say forestry. So that’s, I mean there’s a lot more to it but that’s a quick, quick brush over.

Anthony Gleeson:
Is there anything it can’t do Tim?

Tim Schmidt:
I don’t know, I haven’t found anything yet that it can’t do.

Anthony Gleeson:
Yeah I understand that that the first Ford, the Model T or whatever it was, Ford was was made of hemp and that was that was shut down by the fossil fuel industry at the time. Like what are the blockers at the moment? Is it similar?

Tim Schmidt:
Look, I don’t know that. I mean, that certainly was the case in those days. I think there’s been a huge change in approach. You’ll see that some of the corporates and even some of the fossil fuel corporates are looking towards hemp as an avenue for trying to balance utilising carbon sequestration aspects of it. So, there is a really, because of the big change globally and major corporations have got their, they’ve got to address their social responsibilities. They’re looking for ways that they can support things like the hemp industry in addressing the sustainable and renewable aspects of industry. So there’s, it’s just starting to appear now. And then the trick is trying to, you know, utilise that desire to manifest itself into something of a substantial industry that the hemp industry is aiming to become.

Colin Mockett:
The bit that interests me, Tim, is the carbon sequestration, because it’s fast growing, isn’t it? And it’s easily harvestable. What you really got to do is find the uses for it, because if you’ve got a couple of… How many acres have you got under hemp? And can you turn a quid on it?

Tim Schmidt:
Well, see, my enterprise here is basically hemp seed for food. And then the Tasmanian government just recently is allowing a pilot scheme where we can utilise the stubble as a emulsing material for horticultural industries like vineyards and orchards and so on. So that allows full utilisation of the plant.

We’re not a big producer. We’ve got about probably somewhere around 15 hectares per annum. But as our business grows, we might subcontract to other growers in our own business. If I go to the supermarket and I see plant-based hamburgers, how much of that is hemp? Look, I don’t really know. I think there’s a bit of, there’s more likely soybean or something like that in there.

Yeah, it’s just plant-based, so we don’t really know, do we?

No, but in New Zealand there’s a business that’s developed a substitute for chicken meat based primarily on hemp.

And that hempcrete, I’m assuming it is exactly how it sounds. They use the fibers inside concrete to strengthen the concrete. Is that correct?

No, no, not at all. ‘Hempcrete’ is a misleading term because the actual composition is the fiber along with sand and lime and a binding agent. So there’s not really any concrete involved at all and it’s all completely natural products and it actually absorbs, through its life it actually continues to absorb CO2. How is it actually used in construction? So it’s kind of like a wall filler.

So you put in forming boards and then you put the mix in between the forming boards and it sets and then you remove the forming boards and it’s sort of equivalent to an R4 bat. Like the insulation properties are quite extraordinary and also the hemp creek actually breathes so you’ll never find mold in a hemp house and also the acoustics are extraordinary. So it’s got lots of really good advantages but it’s

Hempcrete is a bit of a misleading terminology. I think someone was saying that we should call it ‘bio-fiber material’. And concrete is a big emitter as well. The production of concrete is a huge emitter of carbon. It is and it also continues to emit through its lifespan, whereas hempcrete actually continues to absorb CO2.

Anthony Gleeson:
Yeah, that’s amazing. Isn’t it? And so easy to grow relatively in Australia without herbicides, chemicals, et cetera. Tim, you’ve got a busy job ahead of you, but I think a rewarding one. I can’t see all that much against it, and I think more and more people are realising the value of hemp. There’s so many uses for it.

Mik Aidt:
So Tim, if you look, let’s say even 10 years ahead, what would the future for the hemp industry look like?

Tim Schmidt:
Look, there could be, you know, hundreds of thousands of hectares of hemp grown throughout Australia to supply a burgeoning housing industry and also all the other byproduct aspects of the hemp that could be produced. I did want to mention though, there’s two key things that we’re sort of driving for and that is whole of plant use and bringing about regulatory change to allow all the opportunities for the hemp to be exploited by Australian farmers. An important thing that I always mention is the definition of hemp, which is cannabis with less than 1 per cent THC. So we refer to cannabis with greater than 1 per cent THC as marijuana because then there is a clear distinction and understanding by the community. In terms of government support, we really need continued investment in research.

The Australian Hemp Council is looking to have Australia as at the cutting edge of industry development, both in processing and application to different markets. And one of the ways that the government can assist us, and we’re looking to initiate a Senate inquiry into the industry over the next 12 months, in the lead up to the next federal election, to get some commitments from all sides of government on their support for the industry.

But one of the key ways that they can help apart from investment in research is to assist with procurement systems where, say, for instance, there’s a need for social housing, then they dedicate a portion of that budget to the hemp industry. And that helps generate revenue streams and support the diverse development, not just in housing, but all the other applications of the hemp plant as well. So I just wanted to make those couple of points.

Anthony Gleeson:
Yeah, that makes a whole lot more sense than subsidising a psychopathic fossil fuel industry, which only does harm to us.


Anthony Gleeson:
Our next guest is Simi Diskin. Simi is the head of or the founder of an organisation or a company called Okimmi. And Simi is into sustainable fashion. And if you, our listeners were able to see, you could see some of her creations behind her on the screen. So Simi, welcome to The Sustainable Hour. And you’re coming to us from Miami. Is that correct?

Simi Diskin:
I am, yes – Florida. Sadly, as we just passed our governor just passed a law against climate change, essentially. So now there’s no protecting ourselves at all in Florida, evidently. So I’m right smack dab in the middle of that. Not an easy place to be if you’re an advocate for Planet First. So it’s difficult stuff for me, but.

It’s like everybody, it’s a day at a time. And any sort of sustainable build and teach takes a practice and a learn, you know? And this is part of, you know, the frustration for me and the burn is the fact that I, you know, people can’t just go out and really try with an industry without it being called greenwashing. But then like you spoke earlier, it ends up being greenwashing in the end anyway.

So it’s like, let everybody at least shift sustainably and start making some sort of change. The EU just passed law against greenwashing within the fashion industry. This small minority, this small percentage now becomes the priority for them to pass this law against greenwashing. For what? So that the rest of the 99 percenters can continue creating toxically?

Like how does that make any sense in protecting the planet or putting ecology before economy? It does not. It’s self-serving. So I really, I’m not about, you know, my brand as much. I’m certainly not about me. I’m really about the artistry of considerately choosing and learning that in as a society, universally, you know, learning to honor that, learning to respect that, starting with choosing rightly for the planet before everything. This is the magic of Okimmi. I create everything from rescue only. There is no budging on that.

I have evolved it after eight years into this creative force. It’s a language, really. It’s a language of sustainability. And so if I’m speaking fluently, this language of sustainability through considerately choosing, that teaches me that it’s available to everybody universally because it cannot just apply to fashion only. That’s ridiculous. So it’s all about, you know, really as a society taking the accountability to acknowledge and accept the mess that we’re in.

We can finger point all day long. We can push and blame. We can hold back sustainability by putting boundaries, boundaries put in place by exactly the same people who put us here in the first place. Like I don’t come from a world of economics or business. That’s not my background. I have a high school diploma, kids, okay, no higher education over here. And I don’t have any experience in business, which is most likely why I’m not selling yet, okay, because I built backwards. I built for purpose and mission first, before economy. I had the opportunity to do that. And I choose rightly and considerately by choosing for the planet before everything.

And in that this magical language of piecing and shaping from rescuing is just flowing through the fashion industry. Or industry in general across the globe produces some hundred billion units a year. Okay? T
hey’re talking about tripling this number by, I don’t know, 20, 30, 20, 50, who cares? It’s all guessing anyway. And it all just shows us the trajectory of selfish choosing, of greed, of choosing for us the small 1 per cent over life itself.

So I thought I’d be a creative and a free one because I wasn’t bound by others telling me what I can and cannot do. I am one that believes in choosing for the planet before everything I choose. And it’s proof that we can do better. It’s proof that we can stop polluting the planet with all this crap so that these few ‘1 percenters’ can keep making all this money.

Fashion, by the way, is largely made… all of your synthetics are coming from the oil industry. So we are connected together throughout industry, everywhere you go.

Hemp I love deeply. I think hemp is a miracle plant, really. And it’s one that has been wronged from the beginning of time because they could make more money elsewhere.

In my opinion, they could make more money elsewhere. So they were again, self-serving and serving economy before ecology. You know, the hemp industry, the marijuana cannabis industry, was demonised wrongly for so long, but then they come out of the box – or marijuana does anyway – and they start packaging and shipping all over more plastic, single waste packaging. How disappointing. Not only disappointing, but really disheartening.

Colin Mockett:
Simi, I would like to know how your sustainable fashion physically works. Do you have a shop? Are you recycling previous fashion wear?

Simi Diskin:

Colin Mockett:
And the other thing is: You’re clearly very outspoken and you’re in Florida or Miami. Do you meet up with prejudice because of your climate views?

Simi Diskin:
Yes, it’s quite difficult here. I do. I meet up with… Look, you know, it is what it is. It’s a stance. It’s a sustainable stance. If I budge and I conform to how the fashion industry runs itself currently and in the past, I have not profited off of that industry. I have actually fed into it as a consumer instead.

That’s where I honed my artistry of fabrication. And the way that I create is from all the years of rescuing and saving. So I pieced together in multiples to pull from the waist chain the worthy, the vintage, the finer fabrics that are out there wasting and being covered by all of this ultra toxic fast fashion.

We are losing so much quality that we can never get back because it’s all getting washed out with these billions that they’re producing year after year. We have such tremendous amount of numbers that are polluting everywhere that if we don’t start taking action and stacking them in multiples, what else are we going to do? So as I was creating Okimmi with the mission of Planet First in mind, I started with that and I started looking at the waste that was out there, the quality, the vintage that was out there. And I started piecing together the different types of designs that were selling and how cheap, how undervalued these pieces were so undervalued, they still are. The resale marketplace is very undervalued. That needs to change.

We need to start learning how to revalue our existing and shut off the faucet of polluting and create this new sustainable industry as we’re doing it. And at the same time, start setting a new mentality for sustainability by teaching and reinforcing and practicing consistently the artistry of considerately choosing. It’s super important. So Okimmi is about, every choice I make is considerately made.

If I can’t make it for the planet and it’s gonna be something that’s toxic, I don’t make it. You know, it’s really simple stuff like that that has created this artistry. Look, I only design two days a week, seven hours a day with Gustavo, okay? My pieces would not exist if these pieces, if not for Gustavo, I believe the language would, but he sews for me, a master tailor. And he comes in twice a week. And we were part of a full time for a while. Now we’re twice a week and I’m self-funded. And in that twice a week, we create two full collections a month. That’s extraordinary. That’s extraordinary. All from used, all from rescue and all with stacking. Some of my gallery pieces have over 20 rescues in one gallery piece. They could be hung. And I also even recreate forms. I rescue forms and piece them together and recreate forms that I then hang the gallery piece on and the whole entire piece is sold together. It’s artwork but it is wearable, right? It’s also about street wear and day-to-day wear and designs that can be reproduced on a mass level, right? A less toxic mass level. It’s about being able to do that through the salvage to work through the waste and of course saving the rescue designer and vintage rightly.

Colin Mockett:
How long have you been doing it, Simi? And are you turning a profit?

Simi Diskin:
So, no, I am not, Colin, because I’m not out. I can’t shake off the ugly, I guess is how they’d say it in Texas. I can’t shake off the ugly. Look, it’s been a learning experience. I think that my college funds have gone into building Okimmi and really learning how to stand strong in an environment that’s against me. People want to stay comfortable and I understand that. People want to stay entitled to convenience and they’re conditioned to be that and I understand that. But what I don’t understand is humanity’s stance once we know better. Okay, because you know, I was taught that once we know better, we must do better. That’s like universal law. To me, it’s universal law.

So for me, if we know better and science is teaching us, you don’t have to be a genius to understand that we’re in big trouble here and that humanity is a big cause of it. If you want to completely denounce it and deny it, you’re still choosing. And in my opinion, you’re choosing intently.

You’re choosing to continue to operate toxically after you know the harm that you’re causing and you’re doing it for profits. Profits before ecology and I don’t think that that is acceptable in any way when we know that we are midst the 1.5 degree. So I mean, I’m not understanding any of that because I don’t come from that industry. I do believe industry can shift sustainably and turn a profit. I do believe that my work is highly profitable and endlessly creative. It’s collectability and tradeability that then shifts a toxic, never-ending, polluting industry to a revaluing, sustainable industry that collects and trades instead. So it gives hope for a fashion industry to stay creative and do it considerately for the planet as they do. I’m just an anti-new type of gal. I really am. I have proven with the way I produce, I’m like a horse kicking at the stalk because I want to get out there and really show that this is an answer to, it’s but one, but it’s an answer to using the waste that’s out there and rescuing and saving and creating and regenerating a new sustainable economy and proving that we can do it.

I’m on that last step of really launching, really coming out, really figuring out which way I go. I think that the fashion industry isn’t really interested in this kind of making. And so maybe I’ll come through the art industry way and I’ll come out as an artist that creates these amazing art pieces that really have stories. These pieces have such energy. They’re so appreciative of being rescued and saved.

They just really express themselves through everybody who wears them. There’s also a range in flexibility and sizing and gender and age. It’s a magical, magical line. And Colin wants to jump back in.

Colin Mockett:
But I just wanted to know whether your work is available online, whether our listeners can go to a website and see some of your designs.

I am on Thank you, Colin, for asking because I’m the worst about plugging. So I appreciate that. But yes, it’s out there and it’s just really about kicking off the collection and doing it in a way where you’re choosing to shift off of toxic and shift onto artistic. All for the planet first.

Anthony Gleeson:
Just getting back to just shifting the emphasis just for a minute to back to Miami. My understanding is that it’s one of the most vulnerable cities in the States in terms of its sea level rise. And the did you say the governor has announced anti action on on.

Simi Diskin:
Yeah, just yesterday, I believe, he passed a law against climate change in general, and he’s opening up room for the energy sector to boom. So that’s essentially that. And, you know, it’s a real conditioning here. You know, I mean, I haven’t asked, you know, it’s not like I have a lot of like-minded beings around here that I hang out with, but I kind of tend to keep to myself and not, you know, I don’t like to be imposed upon a lot, especially as a conceptual creative. I like to stay to myself and stay pure to my authentic nature and way. I’m a Texan. Texas is very similar to Florida in the way that the government’s run. And I was raised in nature. Nature saved me. Nature grew me. And so I have a very deep-rooted connection to nature. And I just believe that the people here need to find that somehow. The people everywhere need to find a way to reconnect with nature and make it about the truth of science. Don’t be afraid of the conversation. You know, podcasts like you guys, I mean, really kudos to you. You kept it going, you went through a difficult period and you kept it alive and the conversation flowing.

We have to start talking more about sustainable shifting and get truthful about what’s coming so that we can all start preparing. Right? So I think it’s really important just to try to do what we all can sustainably, start shifting, start making better choices, stop taking baths and take quick cold showers really quickly. There’s little things you can do. Watch your kitchen sink. These are little things I do. Watch your running of your kitchen. Put a rubber band if you have to.

Be considerate and aware of how you’re choosing, especially how you’re consuming and how you’re wasting, especially the resources. So yeah.

Finneas: ‘What They’ll Say About Us’ (2020)

[Verse 1]
You’re tired now, lie down
I’ll be waitin’ to give you the good news
It might take patience
And when you wake up, it won’t be over
So don’t you give up

We’ve got the time to take the world
And make it better than it ever was
That’s what they’ll say about us

[Verse 2]
If I say a cliché, it’s ’cause I mean it
We can’t walk away, we gotta get in between it
And when you wake up, we’ll grow together
So don’t you give up

We’ve got the time to take the world
And make it better than it ever was
That’s what they’ll say about us

I never said it would be easy
I’m never giving up, believe me
I used to think the pain would fade, but it never does

You’re tired now, lie down
I’ll be waitin’ to give you the good news
It might take patience
And if you don’t wake up
I’ll know you tried to
I wish you could see him
He looks just like you

That was really interesting, a very interesting program from my perspective. Two very different angles on combating climate change: growing hemp, and basically upcycling fashions.

We’ve heard them both before, but it was good to talk to people who were actually physically doing it. We didn’t get around to asking Simi – because she could talk a bit, couldn’t she? – we didn’t get around to asking her whether Trump is likely to win. Quite obviously, he comes from her town. So that’s something that she was suffering from. I would think he’s likely to take that state of Florida, but it’s a crucial election that’s coming up in America. And if we have American guests, maybe we should start by saying, ‘Hey, look, who’s going to win between the two old cases?’

Hmm. Trump is at least… I mean, he’s a liar in so many aspects, but he’s very honest about that he supports the coal industry. He even had a slogan at his last campaign where he had billboards saying ‘Trump digs coal’.

‘Drill baby drill’. I think might’ve come from him.

And now we have this example where he’s saying to the oil executives at a fundraising dinner… you talked about it, Colin: ‘Give me $1 billion and then I will roll back all the legislation that’s holding you back’.
At the weekend… I didn’t include it in this week’s roundup, but nobody has denied that that conversation took place. It apparently lifted his vote ability because people liked what they heard about him demanding a billion dollars for reelection. But it also shows you just how bloody expensive it is to become president of the United States. They make a lot of noise about anybody can become president. I think it’s much safer to say that any billionaire can become a president. You can’t do it unless you’ve got a billion dollars, apparently.

It really does surprise me that Trump is in any way popular. A hundred per cent of his policies are absolutely abhorrent. And yet the Americans just flock to it and say, ‘Yeah, we want this!’ And I simply can’t understand that.

Well, it’s people that are struggling mostly, I think, and they see him as being strong and a strong leader and they choose not to find out or like the truth about what he’s doing, what he’s done.

And I think he’s perhaps five years younger than Biden and yet he’s managed to paint Biden as being a dodgy old man. And he’s the bloke who’s coloured himself orange and got himself all weak and clearly has difficulty in thinking logically.

Can I just say, you know, while I really find Trump and that whole rise of fascism and extreme right-wing rise around the world, also in Europe, very depressing to think about, on the other hand, what’s happening here in Australia is very unique – and that’s the rise of this Community Independents movement started with Zali Steggall. And now we had David Pocock today. That is really something to take notice of because that is so… It warms my heart that these people, people of integrity and honesty and moral, are now beginning to… You hear people put their hands up. So we hear more and more people who will run in Australia. There’ll be… At least in 20 different electorates, there’ll be a Community Independent running at the next election. And they are restoring integrity. They are with the science and they’re all about the safety that we are demanding. Climate safety should be a human right and there should be respect for women in Parliament – and all these things, all the values that these people are bringing up. That is exciting.

And that’s why I’m calling anybody who’s interested in this to join the meeting tomorrow at 5 o’clock in the afternoon at Beav’s Bar in Geelong. Because that to me is a time where you can step up and say, we’re not just going to stand by and watch our democracy fall apart. No, we’re going to rise and change the course of history.

Yeah. I think we need to realise too that all the people that have been successful as independent candidates, the vast majority of them, their first response was ‘no’, but they ended up [getting in]… so, and… I can’t believe that there’s not someone in Corangamite that doesn’t have the capacity to do such a really good job with community support and with lots and lots of volunteers. We’re all… we all can shape this.

And we’re starting, you know… this came up because we had Sue Barrett who gave a talk at a meeting two weeks ago in Geelong West Town Hall where she said, where she explained the way that they did it in Goldstein, where they created a Voices of Goldstein and they actually had something like 400 members of that group before they started calling out to find a candidate.

And then 14 people put their hands up to be a candidate and out of those, they selected one. So that process of starting with getting people – the volunteers – together, and then looking for the candidate and electing one, I think that’s an interesting democratic way of doing it. And that’s what’s going to happen if there’s enough interest, you know, at the meeting tomorrow at Beav’s Bar. So you’ve got to show up, you’ve got to show that you’re interested. Otherwise, this thing is never going to take off.

So it makes a point that in Australia, at least you can become elected simply on the numbers of volunteers. You need volunteers more than you need money. Our federal government is a little bit like the American system. It wants money. You can’t get elected into federal a party. You can’t get a party elected unless you’ve got a lot of money, but you can get an independent selected if you’ve got enough volunteers who are prepared to walk around the entire electorate and talk to people and who believe in what they’re doing that’s where the passion comes from the commitment so let’s see if if we have it in Geelong we’re testing it tomorrow 5 o’clock at Beav’s Bar in Geelong. Be part of the change.

Be the difference, be part of the change.

. . .

Soundtrack clip from ‘The Shitthropocene – Welcome to the age of cheap crap’. A film by Patagonia:

(Warning: Contains explicit language (if you hadn’t guessed that from the title) The Shitthropocene is a mock anthropological view of humanity’s consumption habits, turning a satirical (yet brutally honest) eye on how everything is turning to shit and why the impulse towards more might destroy us all.)

Making things that last a long time is actually quite hard, even if the solutions are rarely simple. But it’s something we have to do if we’re not to drown in a sea of cargo shorts on an unlivable planet. Quality is lifetime’s work. And the work is nowhere near finished, and we don’t even have it all figured out. But from the time that the company was making pitons, throughout its history, quality has really been the hallmark. And we believed then, and we believe now.

that’s still the best thing you can do for the planet is make a product that lasts as long as possible. So in theory, no product should end up in a landfill, but especially waders will not end up in a landfill.

As you can probably tell from the tone of this last bit, we’ve arrived at the end of the documentary. But the end of this documentary is just the beginning for you. Whether you’re a 21st century wiggy bureaucrat, a well-intentioned corporate muttonhead, or just a regular old modern-day Stephen.

Unlike this caveman, you have access to things like all the knowledge that’s ever been invented and basic hygiene. But much like our mangy ancestors, we have survival instincts that drive much of our decision making. The problem is, these mechanisms have been hijacked by a machine that only exists to turn resources into money. And it’s probably going to kill us all.

One of the questions that people ask me is, is there any hope? Luckily, we are creatures of adaptation. We change our priorities, change our values. We have an extraordinary capacity to solve problems. Unlike our Steven ancestors have done over the course of thousands of years, we too can adapt by learning that real happiness is found outside of an online shopping cart.

What makes me happy is making things, to picture things and then to manifest them with my hands. What makes me happy? Whiskey? That’s one. I’m a really curious person and I really like solving problems. Knowing, I guess, hopefully that you’re having a positive impact on yourself and others.

The things that correlate with what we call happiness in every study of this topic, our relationships and a sense of purpose.

Above all though, don’t forget to pull over once in a while, spend a moment outside with a loved one, and appreciate all of the gifts Mother Nature has to offer – in these matching Patagonia, his and hers, Karma Donkey Puffy Jackets – now half off with promo code Steve.

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Events we have talked about in The Sustainable Hour

Events in Victoria

The following is a collation of Victorian climate change events, activities, seminars, exhibitions, meetings and protests. Most are free, many ask for RSVP (which lets the organising group know how many to expect), some ask for donations to cover expenses, and a few require registration and fees. This calendar is provided as a free service by volunteers of the Victorian Climate Action Network. Information is as accurate as possible, but changes may occur.



List of running petitions where we encourage you to add your name

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