doing the best that I can


I’m really interested in sustainability and ethical living, but it can sometimes seem to take all your energy just thinking about doing the right thing. I’ve read a couple of books (The rough guide to ethical living, Duncan Clark and A life stripped bare: my year trying to live ethically by Leo Hickman) in the last year on sustainable and ethical living and I have more questions than answers since reading them both.

Modern dilemmas – when buying something do I ask the following questions:

  • was the person producing this item paid a decent/living wage?
  • could they join a union if they wanted to?
  • what about the country of origin?
  • the greenhouse miles to get to me?
  • what is the item made of?
  • how was it produced? 
  • how it is packaged?

and then there’s Fairtrade, organic, local….

It’s all a bit worrying, and I’m a natural-born worrier, so I take it all upon myself quite badly and at times quite hard. I have children – I want to enjoy this world and leave it in a good state for my kids (and other people) too.

what I’m doing:

  • I go to the local grower’s markets – fresh, usually cheaper, in season (and we seem to have lost sense of seasons, pretty much all food is available all year round), and produce hasn’t travelled too far.
  • buying some things in bulk to save on packaging & thinking about packaging a bit more – bananas don’t need a plastic bag to come home in & neither do a lot of other things
  • I’ve been trying really hard this year not to make short car trips – I only live a km from work so I try and ride or walk most days & if we need milk or only a couple of things then someone gets them on the way home – it’s often just a little planning…
  • looking more carefully at where things come from – the kids use a face-cleaner and I had been buying a range of products- where are they from? -France, UK, Germany – now I buy one that’s made in Australia. I know, I know they could probably use oats and make a scrub themselves…
  • I don’t have a dryer & haven’t used one for four or five years – hell it never rains here anyway, we have ducted heating & even when caught short- there are always other clothes to wear
  • before I buy things  – asking myself – do I/we really need it?
  • is there an alternative product that is ‘greener’, more environmentally sustainable?
  • reduce, re-use, recycle
  • most importantly , I’m trying not to get too obsessive, I figure I can’t apply these questions to everything – I’d never actually get around to buying anything!

I’m not a zealot and as I said- it’s hard, but I’m doing the best that I can, like a lot of other people.



One Response to “doing the best that I can”

  1. 1 meg

    nup, not a zealot — you’re just making informed and thoughtful choices.

    Another thing that we do, that you might also already do, Kate, is to use a box for carrying stuff whenever we go supermarket shopping. It’s waaaaaaaay faster through the checkout, too, although I can always see people thinking, “Look at those hippies [even though we dress sporty]! They’ve got a box! This is gonna take foreverrrrr”. But it doesn’t. It’s super-speedy. I reckon there should be a special ‘box shopping’ lane at the checkout cos I frickin’ hate getting stuck behind people who have a whole trolley load of stuff they don’t need and then it all gets stuffed in a bunch of plastic bags! What did we do before plastic bags? We used boxes …

    Also, we NEVER use plastic bags for fruit and veg. We re-use paper bags from bread or wine or books or whatever, and, if we happen to run out, then we actually BUY a pack of brown lunch bags and use them. At least we can track our usage, then. I reckon we might buy one pack of 50 brown paper bags a year. Makes you think, inni?

    I think you’re doing a fantastic job — stop worrying!

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