22 May Living ethically. Guest post Mel Wiggins
The whole of this month has been based (relatively loosely) around the theme of culture.
Excluding my protein ball recipe (although it did have madagascar cacao in there!?)there have been visitors from Australia, Finland and now beautiful Canadian Mel who is a co ordinator at Freedom Acts. Freedom Acts is a project that educates young people and the wider community about human trafficking, a serious issue that is more prevalent on our shores than you might think.
The ‘culture’ that is ethical living is something I think relevant to all of us.
I would say that I am a conscientious spender. I made a purpose of not buying anything for myself from January 1st through to my birthday at the end of April. This taught me a great deal about how I spend my earnings. For me so much of what I spend actually feeds into the business, so it was good to sit back and see how I thought out my spending. It made me question my lust for the clothes that I didn’t need.
Mel is far more versed on this topic so I will hand it over to her.
Be sure to check out her blog (which kindly featured me this week in relation to family life and my art business/blogging), her instagram where she captures gorgeous insights into her family life with Dave and Levi. Lastly don’t forget her twitter which is where we first met after all.
Thinking about writing a blog post about ethical living is daunting to say the least;
the notion that you can never be ethical enough in your life –always lacking information or maybe even the desire to change in some area – is pretty strong and trips me up the most. How can I talk about ethical living as a hugely important part of our culture when I throw away so much uneaten food, leave the tap running when I brush my teeth and bought a pair of trainers the other day that were likely made by people not paid a living wage? GAH! It. Seems. Impossible.
Fortunately, I’ve learned to cut myself a little slack.
The journey of learning to live more ethically is dotted with lots of complexities – it requires more thought, more interest and a little more dedication in understanding how our spending habits really contribute to the wellbeing of others and the planet.
Seeing as my daily work is advocating for people who are being exploited or trafficked, I have a keen interest in how my everyday decisions effect others. The whole concept of living a more ethical life is largely values based. It won’t necessarily save you money or give you a more fulfilling life, but it does mean that you are living with intention, which, to me, is always more satisfying. I found this resource really helpful in getting to grips with ethical living.
To help you navigate this stuff, today I’m going to give you my best tips, and advice for trying to live a more ethical life the categories that have the most precedence in my every day life:
FOOD + FASHION! I could ream off a dozen ways that I’m trying to be more ethical these days – but I’ve narrowed it down to my two loves.
FOOD – My top 3 tips to be more ethical in buying your grub would be to buy locally, buy certified and buy organic.
Buying local, whether it’s the local butcher, dairy products or green grocer means that food is travelling less to get to your plate (reducing airmiles & carbon emissions) and is keeping money circulating through the local economy by supporting local business.
Even better – grow your own!
With most products in the supermarket, I like to check and see if it has been certified by a labour regulator (examples of such certifiers are Fairtrade, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance).
This means that farms are up to certain standards for workers and their families – ensuring that people are paid fairly, have good working conditions or that environmental factors are offset in the production.
I find that Lidl, Sainsbury’s and M&S have the best selection of certified products on the market Buying organic for even the simplest things is important because every purchase boosts the organic movement.
The more that we spend our hard earned cash on organic, non-pesticide fuelled foods, the more that the demand for that kind of produce is made clear. We could all do with a hundred million less chemicals swarming about our insides now, couldn’t we!
FASHION- Clothes clothes clothes!
To me, a passion – a projection of self! To my husband, a necessity – and a barrier to him being able to wear his boxers all day every day.
We all have to wear ‘em, so where we buy our clothes and how they are made is something we can’t opt out of if we want to live in a way that is mindful. I think there has been a perception that ethical clothing must have us rocking a hippie-hemp-wearing vibe, but that just isn’t so!
You can read more about my ethical style over on my blog – but for the most part my ethos for ethical clothes shopping is grounded in two principles: LESS & MORE.
1) LESS. I put down the £8 top from the red label rail at TK Maxx and ask myself – DO I REALLY NEED THIS?
Where will this fit into my style in a years time? Are there LOADS of things I can wear this with? Can I afford it? Is it well made? These are all the questions I ask to remind myself that I really don’t need more clothes. I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe and reminding ourselves that having too much stuff really isn’t good for us or our throwaway society.
2) MORE. More investment in the good guys – the brands with integrity and vision.
More seeking out style that doesn’t compromise in ethics – I love finding new ethical fashion brands that blow the hippy-grain-wearing clothing stereotypes out of the water. More researching how the big brands are doing and calling them to account (you can use the Good Shopping Guide or Ethical Consumer to see who is doing well-ish and who are money-hungry, people-exploiting idiots). The main places I scour for quick a fashion revamp are Charity Shops, Ebay, Asos Marketplace and Online Vintage Shops (like Rokit, Oxfam Vintage etc).
At the end of the day, ethical living is all about mindfulness. It is about being active consumers, understanding our privilege and using our purchase power to bring change.