One of a kind speakers. Great sound. Incredible cause.

It is funny how the world works.  You might remember a few posts ago, I wrote about social enterprise Substation33 that recycle and reuse electronic waste to create jobs and training opportunities for disadvantaged jobseekers in Logan?  (Here is the link if you missed it).  After writing that post, I took a load of electronic waste to them, which included some old computers, keyboards, electrical cords, a tv, AND the speakers from my first car, circa 1994.  Let me tell you, it was a very sad day for me to part with these speakers. These speakers had gotten me through a few broken hearts.  (At the time) these speakers were, second to my car, one of my biggest purchases of my life. Back in the day, these speakers played My Sharona a few too many times.  These speakers I have been hoarding storing since 2003.   These speakers (I had to keep reminding myself) were going to a good and worthy cause. Sob. Sob. Sob.

AMPLFY.jpgWell, happily, the story just got better!  Last week I learnt that Substation33 have partnered with another social enterprise, AMPLFY that hand build portable speakers, from new and recycled electronic parts. Each speaker has been designed in a do-it-yourself kit form, so that the buyer (you) can gain an introduction into electronics, through the creation of your very own portable audio system.  Don’t worry, if you are too much of a scaredy-cat, you can also purchase ready made speakers.  AMPLFY has both environmental and social impacts, diverting waste from landfill, and using the supported workshop environment of Substation33 to create this very unique product.

Brad Clair is the clever and big hearted founder of AMPLFY.  Brad told me a little bit about why he started AMPFLY…..

“After graduating from university, I moved to Cambodia to help women with HIV start their own business. When I came back to Brisbane, I was eager to make a difference so I began working on a start up which connected people with 3D printers to amputees, whereby 3D prosthetics were gifted to amputees in exchange for donations. Cambodia has a lot of amputees after the Khmer rouge.” Brad tells me.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 11.27.32 PM.png“Despite my passion to make a difference, I was somewhat at a cross roads, as in my spare time I was spending more and more time, building and creating portable speakers, which seemed to offer little benefit to society. ” Brad said.  Until AMPLFY was born – “the perfect combination of having a positive social and environmental impact on society, whilst doing what I love to do – playing music from a speaker you have hand-crafted is a unique experience as you really begin to appreciate the sounds that it creates; it was something that I became addicted too.”

By 2019, the bluetooth speaker market is estimated to be worth over $7 Billion (PRNewsWire 2014)  Brad believes it is one of the most saturated and competitive marketplaces in the world. “They are mass produced speakers which look the same, sound the same, offer no benefit to society and ultimately end up as landfill.” 

“What’s more, some of the biggest brands in the industry are earning millions of dollars, profiting off cheap electronics sold at premium prices, where the people on the ground floor, actually building the speakers (whose jobs are likely to become automated) aren’t learning a valuable skill, nor are they earning enough money to live comfortably.” Brad adds. 

The AMPLFY mission is to provide an alternative, where portable speakers are better for the environment and are hand-crafted by their community, who are able to learn new skills, whilst earning additional income. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 9.53.07 PMYou can buy a do-it-yourself AMPFLY speaker kit for $179. Or if you are feeling slightly overwhelmed at the prospect of putting together your own speaker, AMPFLY are currently training people at Substation33 to build and sell portable speakers. 

The AMPLFY ready-made speakers are built by Substation33 community/participants in supported employment and training programs.

“We are able to recycle computer batteries, switches, wiring, computer fan grills, speaker drivers, radio/bluetooth antennas, bi-cycle tyres, terminal blocks (from traffic lights) and ex-army ammunition cases. Not only is this better for the environment, but we are able to source better components which would otherwise be too expensive to purchase brand new. This also means that our builders at Substation33 are able to earn higher profit margins.”  Builders will be featured on the AMPLFY facebook page.

AMAZING FATHERS DAY GIFT ALERT! Brad mentioned that some customers have had a great experience building an AMPFLY speaker with their dad – so Brad hopes more people get to share this experience and buy dad an AMPFLY speaker this Fathers day!

Go on, take Brad’s advice: “Music will never sound as great, as it does coming from the speaker you built with your own two hands. We provide the kit and the instructions, so that you can learn how to build the world’s most unique portable speaker at a fraction of the cost.”

The perfect Fathers Day gift! Buy one here on the AMPLFY website, or follow on facebooktwitter, or instagram.

It makes me feel very happy to know that these speakers will live again!

Posted in Community, CSR, Environment, GIVING, Recycle or upcycle, Social Enterprise, Uncategorized, youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ECOPADS = environment, education and empowerment


Ecopads Founder: Freeda Thong

I recently learnt about an amazing lady,  Freeda Thong, a Brisbane based social entrepreneur passionate about women, the environment and equality. Freeda recently ran a crowd funding campaign to raise $15,000 for her new, innovative, environmentally and socially impactful product – Ecopads.  A product that Freeda says gets mixed reactions of confusion, disgust, surprise, acceptance and admiration all at the same time!

Ecopads Australia is a social enterprise making perfectly imperfect, reusable menstrual cloth pads. For each Ecopad sold, Freeda sends one to a girl or woman in a developing country. In addition to this, Freeda is working with development organisations to provide educational workshops surrounding sex education and health hygiene.

“A one-for-one model makes it possible to not only tackle environmental issues close to home, but also reach out to help girls have access to sanitation in developing countries.” Freeda says.  Disposable pads are the 3rd largest contributor to landfill, so Ecopads provide women with the opportunity to make an environmentally conscious decision to manage their periods.  Watch Freeda’s fun clip outlining her product here.

Ecopads2You don’t have to live in Australia to buy or support the Ecopad movement.  Freeda has a growing market selling to overseas customers including Vanuatu, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, Papua New Guinea, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Freeda would love for you to join her on a journey to creating access to sanitation in developing countries by making cloth pads accessible to everyone, both here and abroad.

Freeda believes that this small behavioural change can make a large impact on the environment and culture around menstruation. Period shaming is a confronting and pressing issue in developing countries, where women are shunned within the community. This is often a reason for girls to drop out of school when beginning their cycles.

Freeda’s product has clear impact helping the environment, education and empowerment:

Environment: Disposables take up to 800 years to decompose. With each woman experiencing an average of 520 menstrual cycles, the numbers really add up quickly!

Education: 1 in 5 girls leave school in India, due to menstruation and lack of awareness around it.

Empowerment: Provide job prospects to women on the ground in India. Photographed here are women employed by Eco Femme, in Auroville, India.


Photo credit: Eco Femme, of women who are up-skilled and employed in India


To buy Ecopads visit their website.  To support Freeda and help spread the word, follow Ecopads Australia on facebook, Instragram, Youtube and twitter and SHARE, SHARE, SHARE this blog post!!!

OR send Freeda an email to tell her how awesome she is


Posted in Community, Environment, Ethical Shopping, GIVING, Pay it forward, Recycle or upcycle, Social Enterprise, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Give some words with heart

Do you think it would be possible to run a company that educates girls in developing countries, helps the environment AND makes a profit?

Meet Lauren Shuttleworth, a Brisbane based social entrepreneur who is doing exactly that with her eco-friendly stationery company Words With Heart.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 10.12.36 AM.png

Founder: Lauren Shuttleworth

Lauren tells of her frustration of seeing notebooks intended for young girls, with frivolous and disempowering statements on the covers, about boys, fashion, lipstick etc and being really bothered by this. Lauren firmly believes notebooks should be the starting point of inspiration, ideas, passion and creativity. So Lauren decided to start her own company doing exactly that, creating “mini billboards” of inspiration and empowerment for girls of all ages.

Lauren ran a crowding funding campaign in 2011 that raised her $20,000 to launch her new brand that funds education days for girls in developing countries, helps the environment, and spreads messages of empowerment and equality.

Words With Heart notebooks use 100% post consumer recycled paper and card, products are printed with vegie based inks, using solar power and no harsh printing chemicals.  “It’s as eco-friendly as it gets” Lauren says.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 10.26.08 AM

Make a goal to change the world!

Every Words With Heart product funds a set number of education days for women and girls in developing countries – this goals planner to the left funds one day of education. Lauren has partnered with Australian not-for-profit organisations Care Australia and One Girl to deliver on this.  It is Lauren’s goal to fund 500,000 education days by the end of 2016.

Lauren sells notebooks, journals, travel diaries and printable planners.  Lauren also runs custom print items, for your own company or design.


For the month of June, Lauren is offering a special discount on her products – this week’s offer is 15% off customised business cards, including “all the fancy stuff” like recycled paper, gold foiling, round corners and more – email for a quote or follow Words With Heart on instagram to get all of the month’s special offers.

Here are just some of her lovely Words With Heart notebooks:

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 9.35.37 AM

So next time you need a gift for a girl (of any age) or even a gift for yourself – check out Lauren’s beautiful range here, and give a gift that keeps giving and empowering women and girls all over the world!

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 9.35.54 AM

Visit Words With Heart website, follow on facebook, twitter or instagram.


Posted in Causes, Children, Community, CSR, Environment, GIVING, Social Enterprise, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uplift Project – recycling bras to women in need

UPDATE 25/05/16: An urgent update to this post, I spoke to Liz the founder of Uplift Project, and she currently has 40,000 bras in storage in Melbourne and desperately needs help funding the shipment of these to PNG.  For $10 you can help send 100 bras – please donate here!

A few years back, I helped a friend who was running a collection of new bras for women impacted by flooding in Fiji.  Incredibly, the universe provided (as it so often does) and in addition to many friends and family donating to the cause,  we were able to use donated cash to purchase bras via charity Project Now – a charity raising money to help women with addiction. So our money was able to help TWO very worthy causes! Together, we were able to send almost 100 brand new bras to that village in Fiji – it was a wonderful result! Here is a link to the blog post, and a cute picture of my kids (and neighbour) helping count the bras out…they are maybe having a bit too much fun trying them on.
I have since become aware of an ongoing bra recycle program, who need your help!

Uplift Project collect new and pre-loved bras for women in developing countries.  Uplift Project collect bras in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, and distribute them to women in developing countries such as Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, PNG, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and more.  There are drop off locations all over Australia – see the full list here.  To date they have collected and donated 1.3 million bras!!!  AMAZING!

The Uplift Project website (which was updated only this week) is urgently seeking bras in all sizes 8- 18+, A-DD cup (in good condition, including crop top styles.) Also:

  • Maternity / nursing bras including crop tops, ANY condition will do. If it will catch a leak it is better than nothing, which is the alternative.
  • E cup plus, ANY size Likely to be the only properly fitting bras that a woman gets in her life.
  • Mastectomy Bras and Breast Forms (prostheses)
  • Swimwear, any size
  • Underpants, new. In some places a girl without underpants does not go to school during her period.
Tonga 2008 bra group_sml

Bra distribution Day, Tonga 2008 – photo credit

So why bras?
“In the Solomon Islands it is quite difficult to access a comfortable bra. Some of the second hand shops sell bras but mostly women have to buy their bras from the Chinese Trade Stores. These bras have some problems; they come in smaller sizes, are made of nylon and perish quickly in tropical conditions. You cannot buy maternity bras or mastectomy bras in country. For the women to be given free bras is an unbelievable experience for all of them. Women feel a tremendous obligation to meet the needs of their families, and so for any woman in the village to spend money buying a bra for herself can almost be seen as an unforgivable sin. The priority for women’s spending is food and education needs of children.”  – Rose Wale, 2012, Report of Bra Distribution, Solomon Islands.

There are lots of other ways you can help, that is, in addition to donating a bra! A $10 donation will help deliver 100 bras, host a bra collection – here are some tips on how to start a collection, become a drop off point or next time you are travelling overseas get in touch with Uplift Project and see if you can help deliver a load of bras!


Print a Uplift Project poster for your office:
Click to download Uplift Project Poster/Flyer (PDF format).
Click to download Uplift Project Poster/Flyer (MS Word format).

For more information, visit the Uplift Project website and follow their amazing work on facebook.

Posted in Australian charity, Community, GIVING, Pay it forward, Recycle or upcycle | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thursday 19th May is Suit of Change Day – fellas, it is time to clear out the wardrobe

13082715_463638293837547_2852958594694354558_nMark Ferguson, a basketballer, who at 6’5” had always struggled to find a suit that fitted him properly. So in 2005, Mark set up bespoke men’s tailor Wil Valor, and he has been helping men of all sizes from his shop on Park Road, Milton ever since. Every single day, Mark sees the power and effect of clothing on a man’s confidence.

“As soon as most men put on a suit and tie, they generally smile, the tone of their voice changes and they usually stand up straighter” Mark says. “If you look great, feel great, you will always present your very best self”.

A couple of years into his business, Mark volunteered for charity Suited to Success, to help suit-up underprivileged men for job interviews. Unfortunately, there were not enough suits for the men who needed them.

“A lot of these guys are living on the poverty line and they didn’t have any clothing to wear for job interviews”.

This was the inspiration behind Mark starting Suit of Change a social initiative, that collects and distributes suits, business shirts, trousers, ties, shoes, belts and cufflinks to non-profit organisations to help low income job seekers get a job.

“Our role is around collection and distribution, and any alterations that are needed, we take care of that. If it doesn’t fit in the sleeves, then it doesn’t quite work. We just want to make men feel great and amazing.” Mark says with pride.

Thursday 19th May is Suit of Change Day – and Mark would like you to clean out your wardrobe and gift your pre-loved suits to his very worthy cause.

Last year, Mark collected 1300+ items including 400 suits, 200 ties, 600 shirts, shoes, belts and cufflinks.  “We these items to St Vincent de Paul and Suited to Success, and we helped build up their wardrobe so they could fit out more clients,” Mr Ferguson said.  “We also train the not-for-profit volunteers to make sure they style people properly too”.

This year Mark has a grand goal of collecting more than 2500 items – but he needs YOUR help.

Mark knows that nice clothes will not immediately change the lives of these men but it’s one of the many important steps that propel the unemployed or refugees down the path to a new life.

To Donate – Drop in donations to the foyer of 111 Eagle Street, Brisbane City Or the Wil Valor Showroom 7/41 Park Rd, Milton
To Volunteer  – email Mark on
Did someone say PARTY? Yes, the Suit of Change Cocktail Party will be again be held at George’s Bar and Bistro from 5:30pm on Thursday 19th May. Buy your ticket here.
***Mark is offering charityspam readers a special discounted rate of $99 per ticket, simply enter VIP at the check out.

Please help spread the word about Mark’s project, and share this post! For more information visit the Suit of Change website, like them on facebook, follow on twitter or on instagram. Or listen to Mark’s radio interview on ABC Gold Coast.

Ps. don’t worry if you miss the 19th May deadline – this is an all-the-year long initiative and Suit of Change will happily accept your suits anytime.




Posted in Brisbane Events, Community, GIVING, Homelessness, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Random Hacks of Kindness

I recently learnt about Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) Australia, part of a global community of technologists and changemakers who ‘hack for good’.

Did you know that the word ‘hack’ in technology circles is more often used to describe a way of coming up with a creative solution to a tricky problem?

rhok.jpegRHok match up organisations that have a social impact, with skilled technologists who want to make a difference, to develop open-source solutions to challenges facing society.


Twice a year, they run hackathons that bring together volunteer developers and tech-savvy do-gooders to solve real world problems for charities, community groups and social enterprises.  The next hackathon is taking place across Australin on 4/5 June 2016.

It was started in 2009 by Google, NASA, Yahoo!, Microsoft and the World Bank, and since then RHoK has been bringing together thousands of people around the world to create open source solutions for social good. They have been running in Australia since 2011. RHoK Australia events now take place in five locations across the country.


Ipswich is the newest location of RHoK – taking the national group to five locations across Australia.

rhokaustraliaThey don’t just need hackers! RHoK need data analysts, statisticians, project managers, coders, programmers, developers, social media gurus, business analysts, marketing experts, designers, visual artists, UX Ninjas….

If you would like to get involved in June’s RHoK hackathon, consider attending one of the info/ideation nights below, or if you’re a worthy problem owner take a look at the changemakers page, past projects and email the team at

Melbourne Information Night – 26th May – more info here.
Sydney Information Night and Meet Up – 11th May – more info here.
Brisbane Ideation Night / Info Night – 11th May – more info here.
Western Sydney Information Night – 19th May – more info here.
Ipswich Ideation and Info Night – 18th May – more info here.

To learn more, visit the RHoK Australia website, follow them on twitter links below, or like them on facebook.

Random Hacks of Kindness Australia
Random Hacks of Kindness Melbourne
Random Hacks of Kindness Sydney
Random Hacks of Kindness Brisbane



Posted in Brisbane Events, Community, KINDNESS, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dig out your designer fashion for DV

Don’t wait til next spring to do a massive closet cull; donate your corporate and designer fashion to Women’s Legal Service today and help women and children who are escaping domestic violence.

Women’s Legal Service is a specialist community legal centre providing free legal and social work services to Queensland women. For over 31 years, WLS has assisted women in the areas of family law, child support, domestic violence and child protection.

Women’s Legal Service are running their second annual Designer Pop-Up Shop and they urgently need your help to make it a HUGE success.  Perhaps you can run a collection at your work, school, church, mums group or friends – and share this post on facebook!

Simply clear out your wardrobe, and drop off last season’s fashion, pre-loved work suits, shirts, dresses, shoes, belts, hand bags and accessories to one of the below drop off locations below – there is even a collection point on the Gold Coast!

Drop to:
Women’s Legal Service – 387 Ipswich Road Annerly
Graham Perrett, Federal Member for Moreton – Suite 106, Sunnybank Times Square, 250 McCullough Street, Sunnybank
College of Law Queensland – Leve 5, Wesley House, 140 Ann Street, Brisbane
Ellem Warren Lawyers – Level 28, Central Plaza One, 345 Queen Street, Brisbane
Robbins Watson Solicitors, Suite 12, 2 Executive Drive, Burleigh Heads

For more information see the below flyer or contact Natalie Davidson at Women’s Legal Service, donations accepted until Friday 13th May 2016 – off course make sure you save the date to attend the event also:

6pm Friday 20th May at 2016, on the Corner of Creek and Ann Streets in Brisbane City.

Flyer (v7)

Posted in Australian charity, Brisbane Events, Children, Pay it forward, Queensland charity, Recycle or upcycle, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment