Thank you thongs

Recycled paper and elephant dung greeting cards get the tick of ethical approval from ANU alumna Dominique Ogilvie. By SALLY FORBES.

We all know the phrase waste not, want not; what we save for a rainy day can really come in handy if a storm ever hits. But for the Cambodian manufacturers of 'Jumbo' cards, innovative recycling is a way of life.

Now Domozori Trading - a company founded by ANU Asian Studies and Law graduate Dominique Ogilvie - is helping to promote these ethically sourced goods from the Southeast Asian nation.

All the products sold by the company - which also include hand-woven flip flops (Domozori means 'thank you thongs' in Japanese) and silk scarves - have been chosen for design, sustainability and the ethical credentials of their suppliers.

It was while living in the hustle and bustle of Beijing that Ogilvie was first inspired to break her addiction to impulse purchases of mass-produced goods "made on the cheap" and "reeking of petrochemicals".

"When out shopping at the Beijing markets I used to ogle busloads of international tourists buying up a storm to get their fix of bargain hunting," she says.


Flash forward several years to a honeymoon in Cambodia, and the reformed bargain hunter has found retail nirvana.

When she came across handcrafted products made by manufacturers who put workers first, Ogilvie decided to start her own company.

"I was motivated to start up Domozori Trading because 44 out of 100 of the world's largest economic entities are corporations and their influence on society, health and the environment is very significant," she explains.

In contrast, the profits from goods made by local community groups in Cambodia are making invaluable contributions to worthy social causes, says Ogilvie. These include fighting poverty, combating child sex trafficking and creating economic opportunities for people disabled by landmines.

In today's connected world, consumers should think about how objects are made, particularly those made under dubious working standards, says Ogilvie.

"Simple purchasing of mass-manufactured goods can be a complete environmental and social waste.

"Where there is an absence of upfront transparency, we sometimes suspect suppliers are making the goods we love in conditions that make us feel uneasy."

So the next time you are looking to say thank you, you might want to think about a pair of stylish, hand-woven thongs that are helping to fight trafficking. And of course, an elephant dung card would really help send the message home.

Visit the Domozori Trading website

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This article appeared in ANU Reporter magazine Autumn 2014. Subscribe for free now.