Here are some simple steps to living more ethically – I’ve tried to make these applicable to most people, regardless of their income.
1) Slow down. The number one enemy to a more ethical life is haste – it is the reason we use disposable consumables, drive everywhere, spend less time with our children, and alienate ourselves from our environment.
Find two ways to slow down, and do something which takes more time than you usually allow. Life has a nasty way of speeding things up without you realising it, so maybe once a month stop and look at your life, what can you slow down? Has anything speeded up? Make positive changes and these WILL influence the rest of your life.
2) Make more things. We have largely become alienated from our surroundings, and because of that we spend less time considering what we are consuming and producing. If you buy ready made food, then try and cook more meals. If you have some outside space, grow something in the ground or a pot. If there is a birthday coming up, make a present and/or a card.
3) Buy less. Our society is on the whole far too heavily based on consumption, we are always being encouraged to buy more and more. This single act puts a greater and greater strain on the world’s resources, many things we use arent replenishable – we’ll run out!
We’ve used up masses of oil, chopped down huge amounts of trees, dug up acres and acres of land, pumped chemicals into the rivers and seas… for one week each month buy nothing but food.
4) Support charities. There are many charities out there, doing specialist work with people who desperately need help. They rely on donations from the rest of us, choose a charity and support it monthly.
5) Get involved. The downside of supporting a charity means we can be lulled into thinking we’re ‘doing our bit’ – not true! We need to make sure that we’re part of an active solution -that means getting involved, probably through volunteering. There’s so many things you can do, visit old people in residential homes, help with a youth club, pick litter off a beach, or perhaps volunteer to go overseas and help with a project that affects very poor people… there’s masses of opportunity, and not all of them cost much.
6) Read things you disagree with. A sure way to make progress in your thinking is by challenging it. If you tend to be a political person, then read something you dont agree with on a regular basis – for lefties it could be the Mail on Sunday, for right wingers it might be the Guardian. If you’re not a political person, then try reading an article here and there which is political – to get a flavour of what others are saying.
Reading and listening to stuff that you disagree with means that you ensure you’re not just re-enforcing your own opinions all the time. I find it also gets me cross, and getting cross is one step towards action!
7) Eat less meat. Meat is one of the most damaging products on the market, most of the stuff we consume is mass produced at great environmental cost. It will save you money to consume less of this stuff, eating some healthy vegtarian options instead. Then spend the money you saved buying good quality british meat produced in good conditions (free range if its poultry).
8) Use fewer chemicals. There are lots of organic/natural products available, make use of them. Use vinegar for household cleaning, Ecover make excellent washing up liquid, soap nuts and eco balls are a good solution for laundry, natural soap is good for use in showers/baths, a damp cloth will be as good for cleaning dusty places as a chemical spray… there’s loads of solutions out there.
9) Get outside more. Use a bike, walk, choose not to take a car for any journey shorter than three miles. Take leisure time outside instead of inside, the rain is not actually all that bad if you’re prepared for it! And its hardly ever as cold as you think it is.
10) Educate yourself – ask questions. The biggest stumbling block to becoming more ethical is lack of knowledge – if you know there is a choice to be made, and you have the motivation to make it, then you will. But if you dont know there is a choice… consider everything you do and use, and investigate what impact you are making. Food, clothing, power, housing, leisure, work… look for the places you’re making a negative impact and then find out from others how you can change it.
Email me if you’ve got questions.