01 Mar February 2018 – The Ethical Edit
January was a very busy and positive start to the year overall. There was loads going on in February too, but I feel like this month I’ve been reflecting more and wrestling with some ethical dilemmas. Here’s what’s been happening…
Inspiring young entrepreneurs
I was honoured to be invited back to the University of Leicester, where I used to work and where I sometimes deliver workshops as part of their business start-up programme.
This time I ran an afternoon long workshop all about how to build a brand. I talked about the importance of developing your personal brand as well as your business – and how you can be more successful by defining your personal values and mission statement and putting that at the heart of what you do.
Working with young entrepreneurs and students is always inspiring. One of the students was in his first year at university and he had already written a book! He kindly gave me a copy which I’m looking forward to reading.
What really stood out for me this time was how many of them were working on sustainable ideas to reduce plastic pollution and tackle other global problems. It gives you hope for the future!
An evening with Germaine Greer
I think it’s good to get out of your comfort zone, explore new ideas and listen to, read and engage with ideas that challenge you. Which is why I booked tickets to ‘Women For Life on Earth’ – a talk by Germaine Greer about “the inevitability of ecofeminism”.
Personally I don’t see sustainability as a ‘feminine’ issue, and I strongly believe that we need to make it as inclusive and accessible as possible if we’re going to tackle these global issues. However it was really interesting to hear Germaine Greer speak about these issues.
She’s really knowledgeable when it comes to sustainability and she had some wonderful stories to tell from her own personal conservation project in Australia, where she’s working with a team to rehabilitate a piece of rainforest.
It was heartening to hear that in some cases, it’s not too late to reverse the damage being done to the environment and wildlife. Personally I believe that we need to get as many people engaged in sustainability as possible before it’s too late – but it’s great to see women (and men) leading the way in this area. Read my full review of the evening here.
Are we really making a difference anyway?
Some debates online at the start of this month got me seriously wondering if conscious consumerism can actually work. I’ve always been a passionate believer and advocate that it can make a difference, and that everyone’s small, individual steps towards a more ethical lifestyle matter.
Last year’s Ethical Consumer Conference got me thinking about the bigger picture, and how as consumers we need to campaign for change from corporations and Governments too. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this and to wonder if individual consumers really can make a difference.
It can be easy to feel powerless in the face of major issues and it’s natural to question if any of this is working from time to time. After debating the impact of conscious consumerism on Twitter and on the blog, I’m definitely still a believer that it can make a difference – but it needs to be part of a bigger picture too.
Dealing with criticism
Off the back of my internal debate about the merits of ethical consumerism, I seemed to find myself hitting negativity at every turn for a while this week. I’d been criticised for eating meat in the past, and now that I’ve decided to give it up and talked openly about making that decision on Twitter, I got accused of not doing my research properly and letting down independent farmers! For a while it felt like I couldn’t get anything right.
As I often tell people in our tribe, it’s impossible to live 100% ethically all the time, and everyone has different values they want to prioritise. The entire ethical movement is going more mainstream, which is great news, but just recently I’ve started to notice more negativity and criticism aimed at each other that I hadn’t noticed before.
Making others feel guilty for their ethical (or unethical) decisions isn’t going to engage them. Constructive criticism and helpful feedback is great – but when it’s done online it’s all too easy to get too personal, say something that’s taken the wrong way or even escalate and get nasty, because it’s too easy to forget that there’s a person behind the screen.
I hope we can all remember that people’s ethical values and decisions about their lifestyle are highly personal – as is the content they create for their blogs and social media. Let’s try and keep the ethical space on the internet a nice place to be! Read my full write up on ‘criticism, inner conflict and the struggle to live ethically’ here.
Making sustainability easier
Although I have spent a lot of this month reflecting on criticism and the more negative parts of the ethical living journey, I was really honoured when I discovered that Kayla Going Green listed #EthicalHour as one of the Twitter accounts that make ethical and sustainable living easier.
It’s a real honour to be up there alongside Fashion Revolution and Livia Firth, both two extremely inspiring accounts and people I look up to.
“I discovered Ethical Hour through pretty much every blog I followed. It seemed that everyone followed them and regularly were retweeting their posts. It wasn’t until I looked into their feed that I realized why. This account is absolutely phenomenal!
….If you are just starting your journey, this account is the perfect one to get you a little more in the know and to connect you with an ever growing community of people just like yourself. You won’t regret giving them a follow!”
Accessible to everyone?
As you can probably tell, it’s been a month of wrestling with some pretty big issues! Plastic hit the headlines again this month as the UK Government hinted that they may be about to ban plastic straws.
I have spoken out a lot recently against plastic pollution – and even in favour of a straw ban. But it came to my attention that this might not be the most accessible solution and it really got me thinking. In fact, I’ve completely changed my opinion and I’m now not sure banning plastic straws is the right way to go.
Again this is an emotive topic and one that attracted a lot of attention – positive and negative. Many people have different opinions on issues like this, which is great. But it’s important to consider where our own perspectives come from and remember that our solutions may not be open and accessible to everyone.
Healthcare, accessibility and disability are all extremely sensitive issues, and not ones that I am any sort of expert in. Rightly or wrongly, given what I now know on the subject and my brief discussion with disability group One In Five (who are campaigning against a straw ban in Scotland) I personally don’t feel a ban on straws is the right way to go just yet, until a suitable, accessible alternative is found that works for everyone.
I love finding easy ways to be even more ethical and eco-friendly – it’s all about the small steps! This month #EthicalHour has taken a big steps in the right direction and i’m proud to say that our website and Little Black Book of Ethical Living are now both completely powered by renewable energy!
You might be surprised to learn that there are ethical and sustainable considerations to make when it comes to running a website – it’s not something I’d really considered in much detail before. Did you know that powering data centres and cloud computing is reported to be the one of the largest global contributors to carbon emissions – second only to the aviation industry?⠀⠀
Billions of people are connected to the internet worldwide and that figure is only getting bigger. From the manufacturing and shipping of computer equipment to the electricity required to power the data centres (which also need careful temperature control to function properly), the internet is not as green as you might think. It takes a massive amount of energy to keep the internet running, most of which is generated by dirty fossil fuels.
Thanks to May Hay Green Hosting we’re now powered by 100% renewable energy – no fossil fuels here! They power their servers with wind generated electricity from UK wind farms all year round.
What I’m working on
The end of February marked Fairtrade Fortnight 2018, a time to raise awareness of Fairtrade and campaign to stop exploitation in global supply chains.
Around the world, millions of farmers and workers are being exploited despite working hard to provide the products we love. Fairtrade empowers people to earn their way out of poverty and transform their communities from within.
This year, we worked with several brands from the #EthicalHour tribe to raise awareness of Fairtrade principles and start a conversation about how more businesses, communities and consumers can get involved and close the door on exploitation.
Thanks to Boho Homes, From Belo, Grönn Eco Salon, Julia Thompson Jewellery, La Juniper, Lily & Mortimer, The Foodies Larder and Tootsievalentine for sponsoring our Fairtrade Fortnight campaign. Find out more about them in our Fairtrade blog post.
New Little Black Book members
Our Little Black Book of Ethical Living is our new directory launched this month designed to make it even easier to live ethically and shop with brands that match your ethical values.
This month we welcomed 8 new members:
Earth-friendly, luxury stationery made in the UK. View their listing.
Where Does It Come From?
Beautiful, stylish and ethical clothes that connect you with who made them. View their listing.
Award winning natural deodorant that are kind to the body and the environment. View their listing.
Ethical fine jewellery created with the finest materials from the most ethical sources. View their listing.
Bringing vintage frames back to their former glory – vintage eyewear that stands out without harming the planet. View their listing.
Lucy With A Why
Direct marketing for ethical businesses with purpose. View her listing.
The Quirky Queer
An ethical fashion, sustainable travel, vegan beauty and all round conscious lifestyle blog, run by blogger Izzy McLeod. View her listing.
Consultancy, magazine and membership organisation dedicated to helping consumers to shop ethically, campaigners to challenge corporate power and businesses to improve their supply chain. View their listing.
Random Acts of Kindness Day
To celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day we also ran a competition on Facebook giving everyone the opportunity to raise awareness of their ethical brands. Cruelty-free, vegan skincare brand Magical Tree were the lucky winners of our prize draw and won a free listing in our Little Black Book too! View their listing to find out more about them.
Making ethical living even easier
Ethical Revolution is the world’s first ethical discounts site, bringing you ethical deals so you can shop with a conscience without spending more.
We’re excited to announce a new collaboration between our two platforms which will make shopping ethically even easier and give ethical businesses even more opportunities to promote what they do.
When you become a Silver or Gold member of our #EthicalHour Little Black Book of Ethical Living, you will now also get a free listing in Ethical Revolution’s Directory included in your annual membership. This includes promotion across our social media network and the opportunity to feature your products and accept reviews and ratings so your happy customers can help tell the world how great you are. Plus it’s free to offer discounts and deals to customers through Ethical Revolution too.
If you take a Bronze listing on #EthicalHour, you also get the opportunity to join Ethical Revolution half price, making it just £30 per year to promote your brand across both directories.
Fighting plastic pollution
The problem with plastic is something I’ve talked about a lot on the blog, so I’m proud to announce that #EthicalHour is now an official media partner for Status Row.
Caroline, Jess and Suze are taking on the world’s toughest row. The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is the premier event in ocean rowing – 30 crews from around the world will compete to cross 3000 miles of ocean, powered only by their own strength and determination.
Despite having no prior rowing experience, the Status Row team plan to become the 2nd female trio ever to attempt to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to raise awareness of plastic pollution and funds for the Marine Conservation Society.
We will be helping them raise awareness of their campaign, attract corporate sponsors and promote their cause. Read more about Status Row here.
What I’m Reading
As you know, I’ve been exploring inclusivity in the sustainability movement lately (here’s my piece for Huffington Post). It’s been a hot topic, especially after some zero waste controversy broke on Instagram which called into question how accessible the movement is.
Francesca from Ethical Unicorn has written one of the most thought-provoking and in-depth articles on the topic which I’ve really enjoyed reading this month. She has some good action points for us all to consider moving forward too – including understanding our own privilege and opening up the conversation as much as possible. Read the article here.