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Make 2018 Your Most Ethical Yet

Make 2018 Your Most Ethical Yet

 Sir David Attenborough called us to attention in the climatic (and distressing) final episode of Blue Planet 2; "We are at a unique stage in our history, never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet and never before have we had the power to do something about it. Surely we have a responsibility to care for our blue planet."


 

So what actions can you take? What legacy do you want to leave behind?

Start with your values

Being really clear about what's important to you will help inform all your future decisions and will help you stick to your guns. Brené Brown defines values as "a way of being or believing that you hold most important.” Spend some time thinking about what your values might be; does your behaviour regularly align with your values? Be honest with yourself, reassess your values afresh, what worked for you when you were young may not serve you now. When it comes to living ethically, are you most motivated by the environment? Or does social injustice move you? Is independent media important to you? Does cruelty to animals motivate you or it is more a financial argument when it comes to eating less meat? Many times you will not be able to make a truly ethical decision - knowing your ethical priorities will help guide you. But remember, attempting to toe the ethical line does not mean you give up beef but instead buy a new diesel-guzzling car, look at your values and behaviours holistically.

  • Start small. Start now.

Start with this checklist of values - which ones do you hold most close? List some of your behaviours or habits you would like to improve, can you set some SMART goals around them?

Tackle climate change head on

A ground-breaking report was launched last year highlighting personal choices that can have the most impact negating climate change, they even suggested that "behavioral shifts could be faster than waiting for national climate policies and widespread energy transformations." So what can you do?

Some of these personal choices might not be appropriate or even relevant to you in 2018, for example #1 on the list was deciding to have one less child. Others are more widely relevant, such as living car free, avoiding one transatlantic flight a year and eating a plant-based diet.

Personal Choices To Climate Changes

 

  • Start small. Start now.

A few of us here are champions of the Reducetarian movement; "individuals who are committed to eating less meat - red meat, poultry, and seafood - as well as less dairy and fewer eggs, regardless of the degree or motivation." We've found banning meat products altogether to be difficult to manage and often not socially appropriate - but we've a Reducetarian mindset we actively and consciously aim to consume less. Find out more about the movement and take the pledge: https://reducetarian.org/

End your relationship with convenience

Our love affair with convenience has only been around for 70 years yet it seems so ingrained. We don't need to head out of our house prepared; if we've forgotten a bag we use a plastic one, we'll pick up a new umbrella if it starts raining, buy a new TV/iPhone/kitchen appliance rather than repair what we have. It's true the markets have shifted to hook us into inbuilt obsolescence, spinning it as 'status symbols', but we can make a stand.

Richard Deniss suggests it starts with knowing the difference between 'materialism' and 'consumerism'; "consumerism is the love of buying things, materialism is the love of the things themselves – and that’s an important distinction."

"Put simply, if we want to reduce the impact on the natural environment of all of the stuff we buy, then we have to hang on to our stuff for a lot longer. We have to maintain it, repair it when it breaks, and find a new home for it when we don’t need it any longer. If we want to cure ‘affluenza’, we have to get more satisfaction from the things we already own, more satisfaction from services, more satisfaction from leisure time, and less satisfaction from the process of buying new things." Read on. 

An obvious place to start is single-use plastic, did you know around 8m tonnes of plastic flows into the world's oceans each year? Here's Jeff Bridges telling you more:

  • Start small. Start now.

Be prepared when you go shopping, take your bags with you, carry your water bottle with you, use a reusable coffee cup. If you're already trying to tackle your plastic problem consider stepping it up a notch and attempting 'zero-waste'


 

Get informed

Staying empowered and informed while living ethically is important; to know how the markets are shifting, where your favorite brands are succeeding and/or failing. Consider subscribing to a magazine or journalism that helps make this information more accessible, depending on where you live that could be Good Guide or Ethical Consumer to name a few. Stay motivated by joining local meetups near you on a topic that you feel passionate about, sharing stories and the downfalls can be very restorative. Start an ethical bookclub with a group of like minded friends and encourage each other to gain a deeper understanding and boost your eco literacy.

  • Start small. Start now.

Consider joining a relevant Facebook group and intersperse your newsfeed with updates and news about the issues you care about - keeping it fresh in your mind if you find yourself scrolling.

Trying to make ethical decisions day in, day out won't be easy. Put your best foot forward with a regular routine of self-care and a good dose of self-compassion.

Here's to a more ethical 2018.

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