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Two Aussie Friends Are Walking Across Southeast Asia to Promote Ethical Fashion

Meet two self-described dorks; Megan O’Malley and Gabrielle Murphy. These two Aussie friends are currently walking across South East Asia in the name of sustainable fashion. Instead of unveiling horror stories of factory workers and sweatshops, this inspiring duo are meeting with and collecting stories from people who are producing fashion in a positive and sustainable way.

Departing in November, the pair are now over 400 kilometres into their 4,000 kilometre journey and have just crossed the border from Vietnam into Cambodia.

Megan was once a self-professed shopaholic but after studying sustainability, she discovered the darker side of the fashion industry she once loved. By starting Walk Sew Good, she hopes to empower people to access and support ethical brands rather than fast fashion.

We caught up with Megan as they began their journey and asked her a couple of questions about the epic challenge the pair set themselves.

Who came up with the crazy idea of walking across South East Asia?

Megan: “I was sitting on my couch a few years ago reading an article about Satish Kumar. In the '60s, Kumar walked across the world (way further than we're walking) to promote peace and nuclear disarmament. His story sparked something in me and I wanted to do a similar thing for something that I was passionate about, sustainability in the fashion industry. I told my parents about the idea and my dad immediately shot it down. That's when I knew I had to do it!

I managed to somehow rope Gab into the plan, and thank goodness, because she knows so much more about hiking and staying alive than me.”

Read more: “10 Food Rules to Eat Sustainably This Holiday Season.”

You’ve managed to meet and film some inspiring stories along the way. Can you share a story about a memorable person you have met so far?

We’ve met so many incredible people; restore your faith in humankind types of people.

The team at Efaisto in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, were just so passionate about what they have created and went out of their way to show us the work they do. Efaisto is an online platform that connects makers in Vietnam with a global market. We've learnt over the last week that Vietnam has such an amazing community of high quality craftsmen and women. Efaisto wants to support this community and help it prosper. We were able to visit one of the makers at her workshop and see the work being done. It was a really cool experience.

Walking 4,000 kilometres is no mean feat! What's the hardest thing about your walk so far?

"I think the thing we're struggling with most is the heat. It is hot. Really really hot. Yesterday we had to take it a kilometre at a time because we were burning up."

Read more: “Want to be an Ethical Shopper? There’s an App for That.”

What are you hoping that Global Citizens back home will learn from the stories you're sharing?

We are deliberately focusing on the positive fashion stories in Southeast Asia. I think that we hear a lot about the terrible conditions garment workers are forced to work in and the damage to the environment caused by the fashion industry but people don't know what to do about it. We want to empower people to support the good stories. We all need clothes (unless that's not your thing and we respect that). There is such diversity in all of the ways the people we've interviewed are creating change that there will be something for everyone.

Can you please share with us your 3 top reasons of why people should invest in ethical clothing?

“1. The clothes you wear reflect the world you want to live in. The clothing a person chooses to wear speaks a lot about who they are.

2. By supporting the ethical fashion brands you are supporting jobs that respect people. All people should be valued and respected, no matter where they come from.

3. When you know the story behind a piece of clothing you tend to value it more. When you've seen the person that made it, whether that be in person or online, you value the work that went into it.”

We hope that Megan and Gabs Walk Sew Good initiative has given you something to ponder and helps change the way you shop.

Follow their journey for great videos, interviews, sweat moustaches, hilarious dancing, blisters and requests to walk alongside them feeding them Oreos, via their Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.

Looking for brands that do right by people, the planet and animals? Download the Good On You app today.