How am I unethical? Let me count the ways…
So often around here, I share the simple ways that we can make our lifestyles and shopping habits more ethical for the planet and the other people we share it with. These lifestyle changes, though simple, certainly didn’t happen overnight for me (and they may not for you, either). In fact, the ‘ethical lifestyle’ is more of an ever-evolving journey than a destination, as I learn more and integrate those new ways of thinking into everyday actions.
So, today I wanted to share where I’m at in the journey in a very honest way. The concept is a bit strange – after all, I’m an ethical blogger! In a world where we portray the very best of ourselves, why would I publish something that could damage my credibility? Well, because perfect is an impossible, unattainable standard in any pursuit. I know that I’ve compared myself to the seemingly perfect lifestyles that I’ve seen portrayed online and thought to myself, ‘I could never do/be that’. And against that standard, it can be very easy to adopt an all or nothing approach, and make no changes for the better. So I want to be real about the choices and mistakes I make and the steps I’m trying to take to incrementally do better, to encourage you to adopt the mindset that small, imperfect changes will make a difference in helping create a better world.
I haven’t given up: buying speciality sporting equipment
I come from a family of runners and tennis players and I’ve always been really active. Staying fit and pursuing competitive sport is a really important part of my wellbeing, happiness and identity. These days, I manage to get most of my sporting and fitness gear without compromising on ethics, which I’m quite proud of given I’m currently training and competing in netball, touch football, pilates and modern pentathlon. But the one area where this falls down is in the footwear department where supportive (read: new) shoes are really important to perform well and avoid injury. What that means: buying new speciality shoes for touch football, netball, running and fencing that do not otherwise fit my minimum criteria on ethics and transparency.
What I do differently: where I can’t use my purchasing power to support change, I use my voice and email the brand to emphasise how important it is to me, as a consumer, that the brand uses ethical practices.
Rating: better than nothing.
These ethical sneakers by Etiko are awesome, but not quite supportive enough for the great sport of modern pentathlon :(
I haven’t (completely) given up: buying plastic for the sake of convenience
Over the last two years, I’ve made huge progress on reducing my consumption of disposable plastic goods and plastic packaged goods but I still have a way to go. Grabbing plastic-wrapped muesli bars, disposible coffee cups at conferences, and plastic cutlery when I’ve forgotten to bring some are amongst my offences.
What I do differently: these days, my reusable cup, straws and cutlery kit comes with me most places I go. I wash and reuse whatever plastic I can (such as straws, cutlery and bags).
Rating: it’s a start.
I haven’t given up: wearing leather
Rather than a mistake, I consider this more of a choice – but it’s a tough one. A lot of ethical bloggers don’t buy or wear leather. For me, I’ve never made any secret of the fact that social impact is my number one concern and priority, though I care about animal welfare, too. On the other hand, I am also concerned about the environment, and some synthetic leathers are not biodegradable and are made using chemicals that are harmful to the environment. From personal experience, I’ve also found that leather is more durable and my leather bags and shoes tend to last longer than their synthetic counterparts. For those reasons, I haven’t quite quit wearing leather.
What I do differently: while I’m continuing to research and reassess my decisions around leather goods, I prioritise purchasing reworked or secondhand leather, or leather that is ethically sourced. Rating: on balance, it prioritises my ethics.
I haven’t given up: eating meat
I’m not vegetarian, though I know that doing so is a great choice for animal welfare and for the environment. Most days I train twice, and I find it hard to follow a completely meat-free diet that supports my training and recovery. There are definitely ways it can be done (Novak Djokovic does it!) but for me, an absolute restriction would require a mindset and level of organisation that I haven’t achieved.
What I do differently: to do a small part in reducing worldwide demand for meat (and minimise those climate change-accelerating nitrous oxide emissions), I eat meat only a few times per week. When I’m buying meat, wherever possible, I avoid cuts like chicken breast and instead buy whole carcasses and use all of the parts of the animal.
Rating: it’s a small contribution.
I hope this self-rating of how I’m fairing on my journey gives you some ideas and inspiration in your own quest towards a more ethical lifestyle. Is there any area that you find particularly challenging?