Wednesday, 9 March 2016

An Ethical Life - What is ethical living?

What is "ethical living"?  How do you know when you are living ethically?
According to Wikipedia, "Ethical living is the philosophy of making decisions for daily life which take into account ethics and moral values, particularly with regard to consumerism, sustainability,environmentalism, wildlife and animal welfare. At present it is largely a personal choice, and not an organized social movement.
Ethical living is an offshoot of sustainable living, in which the individual initially takes a series of small lifestyle changes in order to limit their effect on the environment. Making the decision to start to live ethically, can be as easy as beginning to recycle, switching off electric lights when leaving a room, buying local organic or fairtrade produce."

Everyday life is full of small decisions and big decisions.  From whether to pop into McDonalds for tea, to whether to buy a new vehicle and which one.  What kind of house to buy, which bank to use, whether to put that in the compost or just chuck it in the bin.  To pick up a take-away or rustle something up with the left-overs in the fridge that need using up.  What kind of nappy to put on the baby and whether to let your children watch TV.

Every one of these decisions has an impact on the world around us.  Each determines how much energy and resource we consume, how much waste we produce, and how we impact on our local and global communities.  Yet each decision has also to be balanced with the impact it has on our lifestyle and our purse.  We have grown up in a generation of consumers, in a world of consumers, and bucking the trend takes effort and willpower, changes of habit and mind-set.  

The decision to live life more ethically is usually done one decision and one step at a time.  There are times when life gets in the way and you slip easily back into easier old habits, but as long as you have the intention to make a smaller and more positive footprint on the world we live in, you'll take more of the small steps in the right direction, and some of the big ones too.  

I like to believe that I think carefully about the impact of what I do and how I live my life with my family.  I know I don't always get it right, but I do try to think about how what we do affects the planet.  Over the years on this blog I've posted a few times about how we try to do things, and I'll be revisiting ethical living in different areas of life in future posts too.

An article from The Independent in February 2008 suggested the following ten tips to start living more ethically.  They suggested:  
  1. use energy efficient appliance such as washing machines and dishwashers to save energy and money.
  2. Stick to the speed limit and save fuel.
  3. Make sure you buy fish carrying the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logo which is sustainably fished.
  4. Put on a jumper rather than put up the heating.
  5. Don't send flowers.  They are flown in from around the world.  Instead give a house-plant.
  6. Missing for some reason!
  7. Have a shower rather than a bath.
  8. Use a "hippo" water saver in the toilet cistern to restrict the amount of water used with each flush.
  9. Buy ethically sourced jewellery - respecting the communities where the gemstones and precious metals come from.
  10. Drink tea sourced as part of the Ethical Tea Partnership, where certain minimum working and environmental standards are met.

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