Ethical, Life

Living healthily & ethically should not be a privilege

August 9, 2017

Fresh cherries on a fruit stand at Granville Island, Vancouver
Since the start of 2017, I have been making a conscious effort to live more consciously and ethically. The two biggest things I have discovered since then are; 1) it feels overwhelming a.f, 2) it’s expensive. The first one is understandable but the second is not ok.

If you live in a modern country, you can walk into any town or city and find pretty much anything you want or need. Try doing that when you’re trying to only buy ethical, cruelty free, animal product free, and horrible chemical free products. It is hard. Luckily, my town has a Holland & Barrett, so at least I don’t have to buy my toothpaste online. I couldn’t even find a wooden toothbrush in any physical stores in my town. You can buy plastic toothbrushes in every shape and colour imaginable, but you want an eco-friendly alternative? Sorry, no chance.

Isn’t it ridiculous that it’s so hard to find highstreet stores that pay their workers fair wages and don’t damage the environment?

Some supermarkets in my area sell some Ecover and Method products (environmentally friendly cleaning), they sell soil association approved organic fruit, and handmade soap in zero waste packaging. But, they are more expensive than their commercial or non-organic counterparts.

There are good reasons for that, though:

  • Companies are not just using cheap chemicals or materials, they’re using more expensive, organic ingredients.
  • These products might take more man hours.
  • People are being paid fairly.

Those are all huge positives, until it comes down to the customers wallet. You can want to support all the ethical companies in the world but being able to do it isn’t always possible. Not everyone can justify an extra quid or two on every ethical item they buy, because that quickly adds up and eats away at your budget.

Surprisingly, shopping more ethically for clothing was the easiest part for me. Ethical clothing is vastly more expensive than highstreet garments and that truly demonstrates the problem with fast fashion. You don’t have to actually buy from ethical clothing companies to shop more ethically because there are plenty of second hand options available if you give yourself time to plan and search for what you need. But you can’t do that with your food shop, cosmetics or hygiene products.

This doesn’t just come down to me, or you, wanting to make an ethical choice, it’s also about our health. Organic, pesticide free fruit and vegetables are more expensive than non-organic produce. As I’ve already said, that’s because of the time and skill needed but being able to provide a healthy diet for our families should not be a privilege.

I’m not really sure what the solution is, but I do know that living ethically, healthily, and consciously should be available for everyone regardless of their budget.

The world has changed a lot since our grandparents were kids. While the technological age makes us more connected globally, I think it has made us disconnected locally; life seems to run at a faster pace and less thought is given to our communities and environment. In an ideal world, we could adopt a slower lifestyle, learn to make some of our own clothes, make our own cleaning products, and only buy from local farmers and growers. Unfortunately, that’s not possible for the majority of people.

I’m fairly certain that the solution to this problem is a huge overhaul in society but how likely is that? When your own government have to be forced by courts to do something about pollution problems in the capital city and publish a half assed, weak response that passes the responsibility, how does that kind of change happen? The public can have their say all they want but if the government don’t care then nothing will change. We need to encourage the people in power to make a change because it is unlikely to happen otherwise.

Maybe I am being unnecessarily pessimistic, but when you hear that climate change isn’t in your prime ministers top list of things to focus on, it’s easy to be disheartened. What does it matter if you or I change our habits if the government don’t care (about a lot of things concering most people)?

What on earth have we done to get to the point where living ethically, fairly, and healthily is a privilege?

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