Living the Ethical Story - How easy is it to practice what we preach?

Ethical – it’s a word that we’re increasingly hearing, in the media and filtering through to our everyday lives and conversation, but what does it mean and what are we supposed to be doing to make a difference?

Ethical living – the concept can at first seem over whelming with its scope so wide, covering everything from our eating habits, the clothes we choose to wear, the way we travel, the electrical products we buy, even the way we heat our homes and that’s to name just a few.

Everything we possess and so easily take for granted has travelled a supply chain journey, involving many more people than we can begin to imagine, so what can we do in our practices, to ensure we’re helping to make a positive difference in how items are produced, how the people were treated along the way, and ultimately the impact this journey has on our planet.

Ethical living – it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and vow to change every aspect of our lives for the greater good of the planet and working conditions throughout the supply chain, but this is not always realistic nor sustainable. As rightly highlighted by the Rain Forest Alliance in their popular ‘Follow the Frog campaign’, living ethically has to be accessible to everyone, people need to feel as though their contributions, however small, are important and a step in the right direction of making a difference. “Throughout the whole process we wanted to make sure that we packaged the message in a way that did not come across as worthy and preachy and did not attempt to make people feel guilty. We wanted to use humour to hook people in and then to make them feel empowered that there was something they could do today, as a consumer.”

With an issue as vast and far reaching as ethical living, we have to stick to the basics, do what we can, do it well, and have faith that our contributions will ultimately have an impact. We can’t get sucked into the ‘everyone else is doing it, I don’t need to’, or ‘what difference can I make’ attitude.

So what can we realistically do in our ever increasing fast paced lives to make a difference, to satisfy our desire to contribute, and allow our conscience to settle and stop punishing ourselves for not doing enough? How can we live our own ethical story both in our homes, and in the workplace?

Here at Responsible Trade Worldwide, we agree with the 73% of the public who felt that a sustainable and ethical lifestyle is essential for the future of the planet, we believe we can make a difference with small but effective changes in our homes and the workplace.

Here are some top tips we found to help you on your way:

  • Ethical fashion - there are now many options to purchase clothes that have been ethically made, from fair trade fashion pioneers like People Tree to high street brands like H&M's new Conscious range - and no, these clothes are not all beige smocks made from itchy cotton!
  • Next time you’re food shopping, go for fair trade brands or products with ethical certifications. For example, seafood, check it carries the blue logo of the Marine Stewardship Council
  • Invest in energy saving equipment – You don’t have to live without kitchen appliances to be green, buying white goods approved by the Energy Saving Trust can make a big difference
  • Cut petrol costs by sticking to the speed limit – Friends of the Earth say sticking to 70mph rather than charging ahead at 80-85mph, which is also illegal, can save you 4p a mile if you drive a small car
  • Put on a jumper rather than cranking up the central heating – The Energy Saving Trust says turning your thermostat down just 1 degree can cut your heating bills by up to 10 per cent, saving you up to £40 a year
  • Say it without flowers – House plants can be just as beautiful, last longer and help put oxygen back into your atmosphere 

Do you have any tips? Feel free to share your thoughts and comment below.