Does it Really Matter if You Buy Australian Made Products? Hint: Yep.

Australian Made Brazier Fire Pit

January 26 is the day that has long been chosen as our national day – Australia Day. In reality though, the date is likely to move, because, for those not from here, 26 January is actually the date the First Fleet landed in Botany Bay, thus representing the start of colonisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who had lived here for thousands of years – possibly not the best date to ‘celebrate’. Indeed, many people have re-termed the day ‘Survival Day’ or ‘Invasion Day’, and there’s an ongoing movement to change the date – perhaps even to May eight (Ma-ate… get it?).

No matter where you stand on this, Australia is an unarguably strong and healthy nation – made stronger by the outlook and experience of the original inhabitants as well as that brought by the various newer voices of many people from many countries.

So, we thought we’d write a few words about what supporting Australian made does for us all, and notwithstanding that the nation will always be a work in progress, it’s an awesome country, worth supporting! And because we’re outdoors lovers, we think a great way to enjoy its natural wonders while making it that bit stronger is by supporting Australian Made outdoor products, so we'll quickly mention a few of ours as well, on special right now to celebrate Australia Day.


Australians Would Prefer to Buy Australian – But is it Enough?

We’re really proud of this little fact - according to the Australian Made Campaign, a whopping 93 per cent of Australians prefer Australian made products! This is very encouraging and, to us at least, totally surprising, given the huge success of heaps of retailers that stock very, very few Australian Made products, such as Kmart, Target, BCF or Anaconda, among many, many others.

However, another encouraging point is that nearly everyone in Australia knows the Australian Made logo. But despite these preferences and brand recognition, there are a lot of barriers which prevent preferences converting into purchasing behaviour. Below, we explore the concept of Australian Made, some of the barriers to buying Australian Made, and some more great reasons why we should brush those barriers to one side.

What exactly does Australian Made mean?

If you see a product with an Australian Made logo on it, it means that the product is registered with, and meets the criteria of Australian consumer Law and the code of practice of the Australian Made Logo code of practice. A whole lot of words that don’t help explain it at all.

Essentially though, a product carrying the Australian Made logo means that “its last substantial transformation” was undertaken in Australia - The item must be “fundamentally different in nature, or essential character from all of its imported ingredients or components” in order to legally carry the label.

So the label is an official proof of the origin of the final product you get.

You may also be surprised to hear there are a lot of different Australian Made logos, depending on whether the product is Australian Made, Australian Grown, Australian Made and Owned plus a range of seafood / food labels and labels for the foreign market. You can find out more about the logo rules on the Australian Made website here.

Australian Made logos

Of course, this doesn’t mean that only products that have these logos are Australian made – there’s a cost to join the Australian Made Campaign which many sellers don’t want to spend. But even these companies will still advertise that their products are made in Australia, as they all know it’s a strong selling point. Many also create their own logo to avoid copyright issues or misleading customers about their membership in the Campaign. It is therefore up to you, as the consumer, to verify their products’ Australian-ness.

What are some of the benefits of buying Australian Made?

There are a number of benefits for Australians when we buy local. We've categorised them broadly into three areas - economic benefits, environmental benefits and social benefits. We'll go a little into each one.

Economic reasons

Buying Australian Made will help the Australian economy:

Research has found that if every household spent just ten dollars extra a week on Australian Made products in a year, five billion dollars extra would be put into the economy, and this could create up to 11,000 jobs. That’s a massive payoff for such an easy thing to do.

Buying Australian Made helps with Australia’s economic security:

We’ve all seen the impact of COVID-19 on supply chains and international transport. While there is certainly a role for international trade, particularly in supporting development and opportunities for people abroad (we offer some great FairTrade jewellery), we know domestic production increases our own economic sustainability and stability. The pandemic has highlighted the necessity and opportunity we have to develop our capacity to produce home-grown products.

The easiest adaptation we can make to this is in our weekly shopping at the supermarket. There’s always plenty of Australian options right next to the foreign brands – it only takes a look at the label and a bigger picture view of why we should support ourselves more.

But the options obviously don’t end in the supermarket – there are many Australian made options across all industries. The economic security side of this comes in the form of ‘if we don’t use it, we lose it’ - We lose our capacity to make entire markets of products (think: car manufacturing), and we then become totally reliant on other countries.

Australian Made Braziers / Fire Pits

brazier with vegies cookingAustralian Made Brazier / Fire Pit

If you haven’t checked them out, then we strongly recommend you do. They are fantastic! These braziers are made from Australian steel (the iron ore is mined here and the steel is manufactured in Australia). Our Aussie supplier, who designed the braziers, brings that steel to their factory in Queensland and cuts it into the various sections you receive.

Besides looking good and folding down to slide into a heavy-duty case measuring 60 x 40cm (and only 2cm thick), the flat-pack brazier is simple, quick to assemble and is a great size allowing you to fit a variety of logs and sticks in to create and enjoy the fire. The removeable grill and hotplate section also means you don’t need to pack fireproof pans if you don’t want to.

Many campgrounds now require fire-pits to be used, and they now often need to be supplied by the camper, so these are perfect.

Actually, we don’t have a negative word to say about this awesome product. And it’s totally made here in Brisbane, Australia. Boom.

Environmental reasons

Buying Australian Made Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint:

An example, I know we don’t offer canned tomatoes at Boho Road Trip, but have you ever noticed where your tomatoes in Coles or Woolies are sourced? It’s not uncommon for tomatoes to be imported from Italy. That means they are grown there, transported to a factory in Italy for storage and transport readying, and then shipped all the way to Australia, likely canned here, and then distributed to your supermarket shelf. If you look literally right next to the Italian tomatoes, you will likely find a can of tomatoes that were grown right here in Australia. This is the case with heaps of products!

Now extrapolate those international logistics to thousands of products from thousands of locations and you can see that the run-off effect of buying the Australian option would be much, much less shipping, packing and spoilage, translating into a much lower carbon footprint. Now, for us that’s a no-brainer.

Integrity of Supply Chains, Environmental Standards and Ingredients:

Offering environmentally friendly products has become a very strong focus for an increasing number of companies these days. Therefore, the suppliers of these companies are also stepping up to provide these options to them. Australian made products’ supply chains, source materials or ingredients and even the original designs are often far more transparent and verifiable than in many countries, especially in our largest trading partner, China.

The ability to have this integrity isn’t free and a lack of integrity is where pricing opportunities lie. Corners can be cut in labour and materials, anything can be claimed, source materials can be impossible to pin down, and then scales of economy are made. You simply won’t get this systemic cheating in countries like Australia – we can’t get away with it here even if we wanted to.

dodgy clothing labelSource: REDDIT BY U/TXM_BUTCH23

A very disturbing example of this lack of integrity is in the plastic recycling industry. We’ve recently been advised by a supplier that there are unspeakably disgusting ‘eco-friendly’ companies overseas that manufacture plastic bottles in order to then recycle them and make products from that, thus making them able to claim that their products are made from recycled plastic! If this doesn’t give you some pause for thought, we don’t know what will.

A Couple More Australian Made Products with Clear Sources:

Our Australian soaps and hair wash products are made from Australian ingredients and are made in Australia. We actually went on a bit of a journey with these soaps because until recently we were supermarket-soap and shampoo people looking for an alternative, and what an alternative we have found.

Boho Road Trip Australian Made shampoo and body wash

Australian Made Shampoos and Body Wash

If you haven’t tried solid soap or shampoo bars yet we recommend you do – they have transformed our travels (and skin and hair!), they come in a cardboard box and mean your use of plastic shampoo bottles will be well and truly over. We’re not going back now.

And Our Australian Made Recycled Plastic Beach Towels are printed with water-based inks which require no steaming or washing. These towels are Australian Made in a small factory down in Victoria. They actually import the recycled plastic bottle fabric in large rolls from South Korea, and then they cut it, dye it using environmentally friendly processes, and stitch each towel by hand. They also have a no landfill trade in process in place, so when your towel wears out, you can send it back to us and we’ll give you $20 off your next purchase. The towel will then be recycled again – a true circular economy.

 Moroccan Beach TowelAustralian Made Beach Towels

We love this company because, in addition to their funky designs and environmental focus, they work closely with a sheltered workshop to enable supported workers who have a disability to work alongside their staff in the warehouse, learning new skills and supporting the experience of all staff. That’s not even to mention that the towels are super soft, great when you’re lying on the sand, and they absorb water really well too.

Another example of Australian environmental standards being adhered to is our Picnic Table. Australia has a lot of forested land, and if we don’t care for it, it's gone, along with wildlife habitat, current sea levels and the terrible flow-on effect of all of that.

Australian Made Picnic TableAustralian Made Picnic Table

That’s why we love this cute and practical flatpack picnic table produced by a small business in Brisbane. Not only are these tables beautifully simple and elegant, but they are made from verifiable sustainably sourced pine from plantations in South East Queensland.

Social reasons

Buying Australian Made means workplace standards are adhered to:

Australia also has a set of comprehensive workplace laws including fair work and workplace health and safety. This means you can be assured that your products haven’t been created as a result of modern-day slavery, and that the person crafting your product has been paid a fair living wage.

Where we can, we try to support smaller family-run businesses. An example of this is our Australian Made Eco-Cleaning Essentials Kit.

Boho Road Trip Eco-Cleaning Essentials KitAustralian Made Eco-Cleaning Essentials Kit

A great product from a small Australian start-up, having its beginnings in the family garage, experimenting with concocting different eco-friendly cleaning products that would perfectly suit the self-contained caravan and campervan style camping. Their final products are made from safe, verifiable, Australian ingredients.

When you can’t go Australian Made

While we try to find Australian made products to use in our outdoor adventures, we have actually really struggled at times. When we have to look abroad for products, we have tried to ensure that either we, or our suppliers, personally know the artisans. We’ve done this through working through many individual small Australian businesses who have personal relationships with the artisans or families running the businesses abroad.

In a couple of cases, where we have chosen environmentally friendly materials over non-eco equivalents, such as, to avoid plastics, the national legislation of the countries where our products are made doesn’t protect the artisans to the same degree. So, we are reliant upon other international certifications and standards to ensure the producers are protected, and that the systems they work in are fair and transparent. We have found that by asking the question about supply chain and ethics, it makes a difference.

We’ll post another article soon about some of our foreign made products.

More Australian Made products to come…

We’re constantly looking for new products that match our company ethos and, where possible, we’re prioritising Australian made products. So, if you know of an awesome product you think we could stock, make sure to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you. Also, one of our little team is an outdoor gear designer, so you may even see products of our own – we promise they will be Australian designed, made and owned AND eco-friendly!

If Australian Made is so good, why do you have to write an article about it?

From our experience, the main barrier with Australian Made (apart from finding the product) is cost. Because of our social and environmental standards, and quality of workmanship, products made in Australia often do cost us more. The question is, after all we’ve said above, is the cost worth it for you? Do the benefits outweigh the cost? Does a longer-term view make that cost more palatable?

Would $10 extra be do-able if it meant that the indirect effect over time is that these costs come down and we have greater social and economic security as well as helping to ensure that the environment is looked after? We believe it’s better to have fewer things, but to make sure the things we do have are high-quality, useful, ethical and sustainable. That’s why we buy, and sell, Australian Made where we can.

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