We’re already into the second month of 2018 – can you believe it! It feels a little cliche but time really is flying.
At the end of last year I did a review of 2017 and all the ethical achievements and experiences I’d enjoyed.
I loved looking back over the year but it was hard to remember everything, so this year I’m going to try and do a monthly roundup. Here’s what’s been happening in January…
Up For Awards
I wanted to start by saying a massive thank you to everyone who voted for #EthicalHour in the UK Blog Awards.
On New Year’s Day I received the very exciting news that this blog is a finalist in the UK Blog Awards Green & Eco category!
I’m excited to attend the ceremony in April and meet some fellow bloggers. Fingers crossed!
The exciting new continued when earlier this month I found out I’ve been nominated for 2 more awards as well.
I’m up for Entrepreneur of the Year and Young Business Person of the Year in the Wonderful Worcestershire Awards.
I’m really honoured to be recognised in my local region. Walking away from my job to go full time self-employed last Summer was a big risk and a scary step to take! I was struggling with severe anxiety and panic disorder, but after the death of a friend last January I realised that life is too short not to chase your dreams and go for what you want. I’ve always wanted to work for myself, and with #EthicalHour starting to take off it felt like the right time to make the leap.
Six months on and I’m now Director of 2 growing companies, I get to support fellow business owners to grow their brands and achieve their goals and I try hard to inspire young people by giving motivational talks and workshops at universities. I’ve managed to get my anxiety mostly under control and it feels good to be in control of my own destiny running my businesses in a way which aligns to my own personal values and gives back to the local (and global) community too.
The awards are open to public vote so if you could spare a couple of minutes to vote for me I’d really appreciate it! You can vote here.
Sharing My Story
I love meeting new people through #EthicalHour, and I’ve enjoyed reading the Curiously Conscious blog for a while. Besma seeks to find kinder ways to live across fashion, beauty, lifestyle, food, wellness and more. I love her down to earth, practical approach and her blog is a joy to read.
So I was really pleased when she invited me to be interviewed for her ‘Inspirations’ series. It felt like some big boots to fill – the last person she interviewed was Big Issue Founder John Bird who I really admire! But it’s always lovely to hear that your work has inspired someone – especially because empowering others is at the heart of my mission with #EthicalHour. Read my story in the interview here.
Ethical Trends To Watch
We had a good chat in the #EthicalHour Facebook Community about ethical trends we are expecting to see in 2018.
In 2017 ethical spending was at an all time high, and it really feels like the movement is starting to go mainstream – which is great news for the ethical businesses who are ready to meet the rising consumer demand.
I did a roundup of some of the ethical and sustainable trends expected for 2018 – it was a really interesting post to research and write – now let’s see which ones come true!
Plastic in the Spotlight
One trend that’s already hit the headlines multiple times this year is plastic pollution.
It’s going to be the theme of World Environment Day 2018 in June, so we can expect to hear a lot more about it this year.
At #EthicalHour we’re planning a big campaign to tie into this – so we want to hear from any plastic free brands that might be interested in getting involved!
Many chain restaurants have already pledged to stop using plastic straws which is a good step in the right direction.
I’ve started using reusable stainless steel straws thanks to Earth Conscious who sent me some – saving my sensitive teeth and the planet at the same time!
Plastic pollution has been in the spotlight since China stopped accepting our plastic waste, and it’s such a big problem that it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. Check out our ultimate guide to plastic pollution on the blog to get to grips with the issue.
At the start of January wrote about 5 different ethical challenges you can try to make your New Year’s Resolutions stick. Did you try any of them? I’d love to hear how they went. Veganuary had more signups than ever this year!
At the start of January I finally got around to watching ‘Cowspiracy’ – a documentary which exposes the drastic impact the meat industry is having on climate change. The film reports that animal agriculture is actually the largest cause of global warming, more so than transport and oil.
It’s shocking to watch, especially when they start digging into why environmental agencies aren’t talking about the impact of the meat industry and they find that many of these groups are actually funded by animal agriculture companies.
There’s a lot of different opinions online about the documentary and the facts and research it includes. I still need to read up on it and hear all sides of the story, but the film definitely got me thinking.
There’s no doubt that eating less meat and dairy is an excellent way to reduce your own carbon footprint, and I’d been considering going vegetarian for a while – so I took the plunge just after Christmas.
I’m no longer eating meat or fish (I just couldn’t get the reports of fish containing plastic out of my head) and I’m really enjoying trying new recipes and discovering new dishes at my favourite restaurants. My friends and family have been really accepting and supportive and some have even tried it too.
I watched the follow up documentary ‘What The Health’ a couple of weeks ago which confirmed my decision to switch to a vegetarian diet permanently – again I still need to research the facts in the documentary but it certainly makes the case that a plant based diet is a much healthier one.
I personally feel much better for cutting out meat and fish. I used to struggle with bloating and stomach cramps on a daily basis but that’s all cleared up and I feel like I’ve got more energy and clearer skin too! So far so good.
Women in Sustainability
At the end of last year several reports were widely discussed that suggested men aren’t engaging in sustainability because it’s ‘too feminine’. This caught my attention as I want to grow #EthicalHour even further as an inclusive community.
I started digging into the data behind these reports and exploring the topic on the blog. It’s something I want to learn more about and I was fortunate enough to spend some time speaking to a few #EthicalHour community members about it – who all had interesting perspectives and stories to tell.
I feel like this is a topic I need to dive into further, but I started exploring my thoughts in this Huffington Post article earlier this month.
What I’m Working On
The Little Black Book of Ethical Living
We finally launched our community directory at the start of January!
The Little Black Book of Ethical Living will be a go-to source of information on ethical brands in our community so we can all work together more easily, shop more ethically and spread the word further.
As #EthicalHour has grown I’ve increasingly had people ask me for ethical product recommendations and journalists and bloggers approach me to ask which ethical brands they should work with or which experts can talk about different ethical and sustainability topics.
The community is becoming so big that I struggle to remember everyone, and although we’ve got the Facebook group, there’s no public space where everyone can see our members.
So The Little Black Book of Ethical Living was born!
If you’re an #EthicalHour member (part of our Facebook community) you can list your business from as little as £20 per year and we’ll help promote and grow your brand.
We’ve already welcomed our first directory members and I’m working on some exciting collaborations to help spread the word further so watch this space!
Read all about the launch of our Little Black Book on Ethical Marketing News.
Raising Awareness of Ethical Causes
Raising awareness of ethical causes is a brilliant way of connecting with potential customers and growing your brand.
This year I’m helping ethical businesses make the most of these opportunities with our 2018 Ethical Marketing Planner.
There’s over 150 awareness days that ethical businesses could use to promote themselves in 2018 and these are all listed in our marketing planner.
Every month I’m sending out a newsletter to everyone who purchased a copy of the planner with additional dates, content ideas and marketing advice.
In January it included a free content planner and February’s newsletter explores how to get press coverage for your business.
If you’re wondering how to use awareness days and promote ethical causes in your marketing, read this blog post and watch the Facebook Live replay here.
It’s not too late to get a copy of the 2018 Ethical Marketing Planner either – you can buy yours here.
Facebook Changes (Again!)
Facebook announced a couple of weeks ago that their algorithm is changing again and they’re going to show less content from brands, news publishers and celebrities. This is potentially good news for users, but not good for business owners who use the platform to promote their business.
But it’s not the end of Facebook marketing – you just need to know how to survive the algorithm changes and increase engagement on your page.
I did a Facebook Live session on the changes and how to survive them and it’s had over 1,200 views!
Several people have told me the tips are working for them already and I’ve loved seeing community members embracing Live posts in their own businesses too. Watch the replay here.
You can also download my free Facebook engagement plan which includes 8 practical steps you can take to grow your audience and promote your business. Download yours now.
What I’m Reading
I’ve always got a few different books on the go and I love to read personal development and business books.
Earlier this month Asheem Singh, former chief executive of a social enterprise leaders network and author, kindly sent me a copy of his new book The Moral Marketplace. It’s an interesting exploration of millennials, communities and social enterprise and I’m looking forward to getting really stuck in. I’m only a few pages in but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far.
I also finally got round to subscribing to Ethical Consumer Magazine after having such a good day at their conference last year. The first issue arrived and it’s got some interesting reports on products from perfume to fruit juice. I’m looking forward to learning more about ethical living from my subscription this year and hoping it will help make finding ethical brands easier too.
My January Favourites
It was my birthday at the start of the month and my very thoughtful boyfriend bought me this gorgeous ethical necklace from Cred Jewellery! I love it.
Vegan Bunny Candles
I love scrolling through Instagram and finding new ethical products – which is exactly how I came across Vegan Bunny Co. They combine my 2 favourite things – candles and bunnies!
Their beautiful candles come in glass jars (and plastic free packaging) and are made with all natural ingredients and soy wax – it smells amazing and looks so pretty too. The hardest part was choosing which scent to go for! I opted for Rose Blossom in the end as I prefer floral and fruity candles. Next time I might choose Sweet Orange as that one sounds good too.
Going plastic free feels pretty overwhelming, so I’m trying to just switch to one ethical, plastic free product at a time. Last year I ditched my plastic toothbrush for a bamboo alternative, so it made sense to switch my toothpaste next.
Thanks to Earth Conscious, I discovered Truthpaste. It’s all natural and comes in a glass jar so it’s plastic free too. It took a bit of getting used to because it doesn’t foam up like regular toothpaste. It made my mouth feel a little dry to begin with but the flavour is fine and it does leave your teeth feeling clean. I opted for the mint flavour so it would still leave a refreshing feel – the alternative was fennel but personally I don’t like the taste of it so that one wasn’t for me!
The Beautiful Life Planner
I joined the Ethical Writers Coalition at the end of last year and I’ve already met some lovely people – including Rachel from The Beautiful Life.
They’ve created a beautiful 90 day planner designed to help you get clarity on your goals for a happy, healthy and more ethical life.
It arrived in a beautifully wrapped parcel and the artwork throughout the journal is equally lovely. I’m working through mine at the moment and it’s really helping to give me clarity about what I want to achieve in my life and business this year – as well as how to live in a healthier way aligned to my values too.
It covers everything from health and fitness to career goals and creating your own personal mission for your life. You can start the 90 days at any time and work through at your own pace.
Many successful people keep a journal and say it’s one of the secrets to success. I love spending a little bit of time at the end of each day reflecting on what’s working, what my goals are and how I’m going to achieve my personal mission and live more ethically.
I can’t believe how much has already happened this year! Personally I feel like I’ve made some good ethical switches to live a bit more ethically and sustainably where I can, and I’ve definitely connected with some amazing people and businesses who can help me on my way.
I’ve got clearer about my mission in my life and business and I feel heartened by the amount of media coverage there’s been for sustainability issues so far. Now let’s see what February has to bring!