Cover Story:

The Path To Ethical Living

BY: Sana Panjwani
Are you looking to live more conscientiouslywith the environment but aren't sure how tostart? Here's the guide you've been waiting for
"Take care of the Earth. It is the only home we have," is a saying we have all heard at one time or another. This realisation is the source of the wave of sustainability campaigns that have undoubtedly passed your television and smartphone screens.

It is a movement that many of us wish to be a part of – but when it comes down to committing, it can be hard to know how to start.

It's all about baby steps, so before you take on the mantle of ending climate change or child labour, start by focusing on ethical living first. It's an offshoot of sustainable living wherein an individual makes a series of small lifestyle changes to avoid a negative impact on the environment, to the best of their ability.

It involves taking into account the ethics and moral values of certain things when making decisions in your day-to-day life – especially with regard to environmentalism, consumerism as well as wildlife and animal welfare. An example of an ethical decision is as simple as switching off lights when stepping out of a room, recycling, or being mindful of water consumption.

Here is a beginner's guide to ethical living – or suggestions for living more ethically – by breaking it down into three common areas of your life that provide the most effective opportunity for change.

KITCHEN

The kitchen generates the most waste of any room in an average home – approximately two-thirds – with a fair amount coming from food being thrown away. Therefore, it also offers the biggest opportunity to recycle.

For the everyday trash, separate your cans, bottles and containers from the un-recyclables. And for the food left over, look into sprucing it up to make another proper meal to entice the kids. If that doesn't work, or the food has just spoilt, use items like fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds and the like, to make your own compost. If you don't garden, pass it off to a friend or acquaintance who does, they'll surely appreciate it.

The best way to ensure that food won't go to waste is to meal plan ahead of time which allows you to suss out exactly how ingredients you need for the week. Not only will this keep the turnover low, but you'll surely see a lower grocery bill than normal too.

To keep up with the ethical theme, when making a list of items to buy, do a little research on product brands and see if you can purchase fair trade groceries which ensures that the money you spent goes toward providing a fair, just wage for the person/s who produced it. Too often we happily switch to a cheaper product deal without considering just why it is so cheap – it's not always about the quality.

Also, consider giving up meat one day a week. It may sound odd, because what can one day do? A lot, it turns out.

According to calculations made by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation, at least one-fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to the meat industry.

Earthday.org crunched some of their own numbers and found that if the entire US population abstained from meat or cheese for one day a week for a year, it'd be the equivalent of removing 7.6 million cars off the road.

CLOSET

Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, The Machinists, and The True Cost are three compelling documentaries which will leave you questioning every item of clothing in your closet. The people who make the clothing we wear and the circumstances under which they work in are open secrets, and you can do your part in ending the fast fashion frenzy by choosing to spend your money elsewhere.

Start by decluttering your closet of items you no longer use or are just ready to let go of. Make sure to either repurpose it into something else, give it away, or just donate it.

When it comes to purchasing clothing, do your research on the brands. If the said brand doesn't openly share their sourcing and ethics, it's probably best to avoid it. And keep it simple by choosing brands which seem like the best ft, as nothing is truly perfect.

HOME

When it comes to product purchasing for your home decor, the same concept of eco-brands can apply here as it does to your clothing. The biggest way to commit to ethical living in this aspect, though, is to think about minimalism.

Aiming to create the most comfortable environment, homes often become victim to unnecessary clutter which seemingly amasses out of nowhere. Minimalism is an emerging solution to this age-old problem which helps eliminate wasteful excess as well as lower environmental impact.

With a focus on quality over quantity, minimalism asks of you to really consider why any one item is where it is and how/if it can be replaced with something more functional, or if it is needed at all.

If you're interested in learning more about this, watching Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, is a good place to start. Also, visit theminimalists.org as a starting resource.

DON’T BE INTIMIDATED

Getting started can be difficult, especially if you're new to the cause. And with many of the issues associated with life-or-death ultimatums, it is tempting to jump in head first and do all - all passion and no plan.

This kind of approach is more likely to yield discouragement than any lasting effect, so the first step is to give yourself a mental reset and open yourself up to small considerations, one step at a time to ensure a more sustainable result.

If the number of conscious consumption customers keeps increasing, there is a better chance of causing incremental change, and encouraging companies to adopt a more ethical, and environmentally conscious, lifestyle as well.
 

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