A NSW primary school has become the first Australian school to have its students wear fairtrade certified uniforms.

Students from Hazelbrook Public School in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, are wearing school polo shirts which are made out of polyester recycled from plastic bottles and ethically sourced cotton.

Organised by Australian clothing supplier, ‘Change Threads’, the orders are made at an ethically certified factory in India and then sent back to Australia for the students to wear.

To be Fairtrade certified, the shirts meet standards including being environmentally sustainable, paying producers a fair price, and offering long-term contracts to give stability to producers and their families.

Image source: Facebook\changethreads
Image source: Facebook\changethreads

The school’s choice to support ethical production, comes after recent major retailers were criticised for selling school polo shirts for as low as $2.00 at the start of the school year.  These shirts are produced in Bangladeshi factories where wages can be as low as $97 a month.

In a recent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Founder of Change Threads, Anna Dohnt, said that her organisation had been founded to “Empower people who are poor and marginalised.”

She herself has travelled to India to make sure every worker involved in producing her textiles – from the farmers who grow the cotton, to the spinners, weavers, dyers, even button-makers – is treated and paid fairly.

“We need to make our children understand ethical supply chains and what better way to do that than with a uniform,” Ms Dohnt said.  “We’ve had an influx of inquiries from schools in the [Blue] Mountains. We’re starting with the polo shirts and then moving onto other garments.  It’s been massive.”

Image source: Facebook/changethreads
Image source: Facebook/changethreads

Principal of the school, David Nosworthy, said the issues surrounding FairTrade will be taught to every child.

“We’re looking at better sourcing of Fairtrade products, from the school room to the staff room. We’re very excited about it,” he said.

Image Source: Facebook\changethreads


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  • This is a really great initiative, but I’d be interested to know what each shirt costs.


  • Great initiative, we should roll it out at all our schools.


  • I just had a closer look at our school uniforms. On the front of the tag is the details of the local uniform supply shop and sizing. On the reverse side, at the very bottom, is MADE IN CHINA. I had understood we were supporting an Aussie company with an Aussie product before now.


  • yeah fairtrade is fine but some people already struggle with uniforms at the start of the year so hope it’s still around the same prices


  • I wonder how much they cost? Wonderful idea though, and sends a great message to others. Hopefully more schools follow suit…or uniform. Haha


  • How great educating the children about this.


  • What a great education for those children. so important for their future


  • The companies that do the embroidery shouldn’t be allowed to rip people off either. Maybe Fair trade should look that that. You pay a fortune for a School Wincheater which if it didn’t have the embroidery on it would be about $15.00+ cheaper per item. They are done in bulk so they don’t have to re-set their machines either. If a small company in Aust. can do one Large one item only embroidery for $10.00 and still make a reasonable profit why is so much charged for school uniform embroidery.


  • They look beautiful! And what a great gift to the environment!!


  • Lke jd


  • It’s great that people in third world countries are being paid fairly for their work. I only wish Australia still had a decent manufacturing industry.


  • Such a great idea – actions like this are a wonderful thing for schools to embrace. Lets hope this school can support others with the same.


  • That’s so fantastic!


  • Good on them and thanks for sharing this fair trade initiative.


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