ethical world online
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living > ethical websites
Date: 19 March, 2004
'Don't worry, you're not going to come
away with yet another beautiful jute wall hanging unless you
really, really want one.'
Suzanne Elvidge types in the word ethical
into some search engines and presents a guide to ethical living
on the web. Additional reporting by Steve Tomkins and Andy Jackson
Ethics. Not only is it a
word that tempts lesser writers to make cheap jokes about counties
to the East of London. It's also a big deal when it comes to living
out the kind of 'global village' principles held by Christian Aid
and its supporters.
But what do we mean by 'ethical'? The answer
is that there's no simple answer. Sometimes there's no such thing
as 'the ethical choice'. Take air travel, for example. Aeroplanes
guzzle fuel and pollute, and that's that: there's no comparable
alternative. But in many cases we do have a choice, which is why
we've compiled an easy-to-read guide covering just about every aspect
of modern life.
It isn't our aim to tell you what you can and
can't do, we simply want to give you the facts you need to make
informed choices that can help to protect the environment and the
rights of poor and oppressed people around the world. So don't worry,
you're not going to come away with yet another beautiful jute wall
hanging unless you really, really want one.
While you're browsing, bear in mind that not everything on offer
from the shops we feature is 'ethical'. But that doesn't mean it's
automatically 'unethical' either. In some cases you'll need to rely
on your own judgement.
As we hope you'll see, ethical living is possible
in almost all areas of life, at work as well as at home, and outdoors
as well as in. Changing things at the office can make a big difference,
particularly in areas like recycling and energy efficiency. And
in the garden, find pointers on how to go organic. So if you don't
have a garden, you'd better get an allotment right away. Or, if
your garden is on the really small side, not to worry, you'll find
some perfect patio ideas too.
And when you're all shopped out, if there's just
a little energy to spare, you might want to consider joining some
of the campaigns featured in this section. That way if your credit
card company demands the shirt off your back, at least you'll know
it was sewn together ethically. Which, in the absence of your shirt,
should give you a lovely warm glow.
So, fill-up with unleaded, fit a catalytic converter,
and start the engine. We're off. Enjoy the ride.
Click on one of the links below to jump to that section of the webguide
health and beauty
Five portions a day, a bit of exercise and less of the deep-fried
Mars bars. That's what we all know about health and fitness.
At least that's about as much as I know, which
probably explains the shape I'm in - or out of, to be precise.
So - getting in shape. Let's start this gently.
All at once, exhale forcefully, open your mouth wide, stick your
tongue out as far as it will go, say 'Aghhhhhhh,' open your eyes
wide and look up. Congratulations - you've just given yourself a
Yoga Facial, exercising lots of muscles and relieving stress.
For six more facials, postures, retreats and, erm, yoga poetry,
Site is the place. If you prefer your exercise directing imaginary
traffic in the park, suspend the head. Keep a calm mind. Move like
a cat about to pounce. For more advice like this, along with articles
by tai chi teachers and handy listings of local classes, move your
pointer gracefully over Tai
Chi Finder - breathe - and click.
For advice in sickness and in health, go to Auntie. The BBC
has a useful and extensive health site, with sections for women,
men, kids, over-50s, parents etc. There are disease directories,
relationship info, healthy living advice, emailing the doctor...
Direct has also got a site for your ailment needs. More specifically,
ethical trader Mothercare
has useful information for new parents, and Student
Health has some advice from university GPs for those who have
newly escaped their parents.
Makes you grateful, doesn't it, to live in a
time and place where healthcare and advice are virtually on tap?
So what can we do to help those who aren't so lucky? Why not check
out some organisations that are working for better healthcare in
the developing world.
The Christian Aid site has an extensive section
letting you know how you can help.
HealthServe is a Christian organisation dedicated to
supporting healthcare in the developing world. The Ecumenical
Pharmaceutical Network is developing just and sustainable healthcare
And if you fancy getting deep into the new bioethics,
there is the Centre
for Bioethics and Public Policy and Center
for Bioethics and Human Dignity. You can figure out which
one's British and which American.
alternative health and beauty
But if you would prefer an alternative to mainstream healthcare,
or just want to look and feel better naturally, the internet has
a wealth to offer (but do take care, check out the credentials of
all health and medical websites carefully, and seek the advice of
a doctor for any serious or long-term problems).
How about starting gently with an adventure into
herb teas? Not only are they caffeine-free but they also come in
a huge variety of scents and flavours as well as claiming a number
of health-giving properties. For example, peppermint tea is a traditional
aid to digestion, camomile is great for relaxing, and lemon verbena
sounds and tastes wonderful. It's best not to spoil the flavour
by adding milk, but if you want sweetness you could always go for
a teaspoon of fair trade forest honey or similar. Order online from
For people worried about the effects of high fluoride consumption,
try fluoride-free herbal toothpastes, like those made by Kingfisher.
Available from Green
Shop. If you want the low-down on the fluoride debate, visit
the online Fluoride
Journal (though it gets a bit scientific in places) or the Fluoride
Once your teeth are clean, a quick visit to Think
Natural will have you creating happy herbal hair with a range
of shampoos from aloe vera to tea tree. Or try spicing up your shower
with lemongrass soap. Or bathe in chocolate.
People there's even something for eczema and psoriasis sufferers,
in the form of shea butter, aloe vera, calendula and lavender hand
and body cream.
As well as being really good for your skin, herbal
products have lots of other benefits. You might want to investigate
St John's Wort for low mood (though consult your GP first, especially
if you are taking other medications), raspberry leaf for period
pains and echinacea (pronounced: 'ek-in-aysha'), which is believed
to help boost the immune system and fight off colds and flu. You'll
find all this and the proverbial more (which in this case includes
anti-stress face masks) at Bursting
Aromatherapy is just one of a range of alternatives for helping
you to relax, de-stress or revive, depending on your mood and needs.
A number of companies produce or sell specially created aromatherapy
massage oils, allowing you to experiment with a partner or on your
own (which is possible without too much contortion, but, as Piglet
said to Winnie-the-Pooh, 'It's so much friendlier with two').
Lavender oil is good for relaxation and bergamot
is refreshing. Always dilute the essential oil in a 'carrier' massage
oil such as grapeseed or soybean oil. Try visiting The
Body Shop for supplies; they don't sell online, but hey, a quick
walk to the high street will be the ideal pre-massage muscle warm-up.
The Body Shop (alongside cosmetics specialists
Beauty Without Cruelty) is well-known for opposing animal testing.
What you might not know is that they also operate a Community
Trade programme, which guarantees a fair deal to small-scale
producers of their ingredients and offers long-term trading relationships.
There, that's enough to start you off. Mark my
words, a few clicks and you'll be exfoliating with poppy seed body
scrub in no time.
It's a funny thing, the gap between what we think should be done,
and what we actually do. We all know about the disastrous effects
that car exhausts have on our world, but the car is a hard habit
The facts are simple. Carbon dioxide from road
vehicles is warming up the earth at an unprecedented rate causing,
ironically, both drought and flooding in the places that can least
cope with it. And if that seems a bit far away there's also the
congestion and pollution of our own streets. 40% of those emissions
come from private cars in cities. So we ordinary car drivers are
the ones who need to take the Peugeot by the horns.
85% of town dwellers believe that the amount
of car traffic is a problem in their town, according to a 2002 UK
government survey, but we still keep adding to it.
It's probably unrealistic for most of us to become
full-time pedestrians, but there are lots of small steps that we
can take in between those long drives, that will can all make a
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1) Use your feet,
a bike and public transport
To start with the obvious one. Even if it's only every so often,
each time you leave the car at home is one better than never. And
you're not only keeping your car off the road, but also getting
some exercise, supporting public transport, and/or getting a chance
to read the paper. Try doing that at the wheel. If you've got children,
and trains can be an activity in themselves.
2) No car days
Get involved with initiatives like European
Mobility Week, In
town without my car!, Car
Free Sunday or Bike
to Work Week.
3) Get organised
How often do you take the car because you could have walked etc.
but in the end there wasn't time? A little bit of forward planning
makes all the difference.
4) Drive nicely
Even when you drive, you can still take care of your environment.
Keep your car properly tuned and maintained, and avoid
What about travelling further afield? Tourism
Concern has a host of ways to ensure your holiday doesn't harm
someone else's human rights, with listings of local tours from Australia
to Zimbabwe, helping you meet local people and avoid the pre-packaged
'native culture' offered by the usual corporate suspects. Worth
it for the Community Tourism Guide alone.
Another source for information on sustainable travelling is the
US-based group The
International Eco-Tourism Society - 'A Site for Discovery of
the Ecotourism Path.' Yea, verily. But don't be put off by their
very Zen-sounding tagline. The site includes an international listing
of eco-operators and a bookstore. Surefish partner Responsible
Travel also offers ethical trips at home and abroad.
Once you have decided your eco-friendly destination,
there are a whole bunch of sites to help you get around. World
of Travel includes every travel service you can think of - brochures,
books, travel guides, maps, a currency converter, and webcams at
the most popular tourist destinations from Niagara to Coventry.
is packed with top tips on how to pack your bags, have a holiday,
and avoid cultural gaffes, from people who've been there and lived
to tell the tale. And finally, Multimaps,
your virtual backseat driver, will direct you through every turning
of the route, taking things like one way roads into account. Clever,
isn't it? Useful too, but experience says don't go without a map
as well - which you can print out here along with aerial photos
if that helps. And it will also tell you what the pubs are like
for when you get there.
Our lives were already dominated quite enough by technology before
computers appeared on our desks, and now mobile phones mean that
we spend our lives surrounded my machines. The only question is
what will it be next?
So how can we be more ethical technoslaves?
1) Use the 'off'
The more technology in our lives, the more energy we guzzle, so
the more important it is turn off whatever we're not using.
'Standby' is not your friend. Deceptively, TVs
etc. use almost as much money on standby as they do for A Touch
of Frost, so get up off your sofa and turn it off. The exercise
will do you good.
TV schedules aren't the only things that survive on repeats. Computer
Aid takes computers for developing countries.
This charity has a collection service, so giving your last year's
technology a new lease of life is hardly any more hassle than sticking
it in the bin.
Whether it's coffee time or keyboard time there are plenty of ways
to make your office a greener place to be, without resorting to
Laurence Llewellyn Bowen or Astroturf.
Paper is an obvious place to start. Most offices
are awash with it, but not all of them use it wisely. A good place
to begin is with a DIY recycling check-up. Find out if the loo roll
is recycled. Ask your stationery officer to order recycled pads
and papers too: take a look at Recycled
Paper technology has radically improved in recent
years, so there's no need to settle for dodgy grey newsprint where
a humble biro cuts through three sheets with every word you write.
Many recycled papers are so good that you wouldn't know them from
'virgin' fibre. Try looking at the small print at the bottom of
letters and household bills and you'll be surprised how many of
them are already enviro-friendly.
And if you want to be really groovy, how about
tree-free paper? Honestly, it's true. Find out more about making
paper from hemp, wheat grass, kenaf (no, it's not a spelling error),
rags and denim from ReThink
Paper in the US, where it's really big news, with many large
corporations already using it, including Levi Strauss and Post-It
note inventors, 3M. Find out more than you'll ever remember with
the ReThink Paper site from the planet-savers at US-based Earth
Island Institute. Best-suited to the economically- and technically-minded
paper buff. You've been warned.
Another good idea is to cut down on how much paper you use in the
first place, by printing or photocopying documents onto both sides
of the paper. This change alone could cut your paper use in half.
Alternatively, stick to email for memos and other screen-friendly
Next, make sure there's somewhere in your office
where all those mysteriously unclaimed sheets from the laser printer
can go. Using them as jotting paper for brainstorms will also cut
down on bare stationery-cupboard syndrome.
When you really do have to throw paper away,
don't put it in the bin. It'll end up in landfill sites that are
already far too full of things that could easily be re-used. Get
your department (or ideally your whole company) to arrange recycling
points around the office.
All major towns and cities have companies specialising in office
recycling. Find the nearest one to you from Waste
Online. And if what you wrote was top secret they'll even shred
it for you too. The same goes for glass and cans: the recycling
that is, best not to try shredding them.
But enough of paper. There's more to office life. Like laser toner
and chocolate. And before you ask, yes, they can both be 'greened
up'. Laser printer cartridges are pretty bulky, complex things.
They take a lot of energy and time to produce, so it would be churlish
to throw them away once they've been used. Lots of charities recycle
them, for example cartridges4charity.co.uk
And now chocolate (and tea and coffee). You might have heard about
fair trade. If not, you can read more in other sections of this
site. In simple terms, fair trade is a way of ensuring small-scale
producers are paid a fair price for things like cocoa and coffee
beans, rather than being ripped off by profit-hungry multinational
companies. Charity shops and many supermarkets now sell fairly-traded
goods so why not try them at work as well as at home? Look out for
brands like Divine
teas and Cafédirect,
which carry the Fairtrade Foundation logo.
And even if you can't get your colleagues into
fair trade you might want to think about which 'mainstream' brands
you buy. For example, Nestlé, makers of Nescafé coffee,
have frequently been criticised for irresponsibly marketing powdered
baby-milk to mothers in developing countries. This discourages mothers
from breast-feeding, which, as well as costing nothing, also helps
build up a baby's natural immunities to disease. Find out more from
Water, water everywhere, so why not stop and think? Even your office
water cooler can be ethical if you want. (I was to going to talk
about 'green water' but that didn't sound too good). If you contact
you'll get excellent service, plus an added feel-good factor from
knowing that the company donates 40p from every large bottle of
water to Christian Aid. The money raised funds work in poor countries
to make access to safe, clean water a reality for everyone.
At the end of the day, when you're tired, you
probably want to save your energy. While you're doing that, why
not make sure the same is true in your office? Computers, monitors
and printers left on standby use lots of electricity to do nothing.
Switch them off and you might even see a rare smile flicker across
the face of the company accountant.
There. That's it. And all done without mentioning
Changing Rooms once.
When it's Blue Cross Day at Debenhams, the hunt for a bargain can
often eclipse thoughts of where garments come from, who made them
and their rates of pay. But if we're honest, none of us wants to
be wearing 'exploitation chic', however nice it might look to the
As labour rights have improved in the UK and
across Europe, some retailers have begun to source clothes from
developing countries, where labour costs are lower.
And that's not because of exchange rates. It's
often because factory workers are paid a pittance and treated badly.
The employment rights that most of us take for granted are nothing
but a daydream for thousands of people who work in sweatshop conditions
in poorer parts of the world.
Sometimes the workers aren't even adults. Campaigning
organisations have discovered factories using child labour - exposing
young children to appalling conditions, denying them a childhood
and an education.
Fortunately we're not powerless as consumers.
The much-publicised Nike and Gap scandals, featured by the BBC in
October 2000, concerned low wages and child labour in some overseas
When the stories broke, we saw powerful proof
of how, when their brand-image is on the line, multi-nationals begin
to worry. Both companies immediately pulled out from the featured
factory. This isn't ideal, however, as it could lead to complete
loss of workers' livelihoods. The better solution is for retailers
to work with problem factories, to improve conditions.
Watch includes ways to take action and practical answers to
commonly asked questions like 'Is there such a thing as an 'ethical
A more sure way of buying ethical clothes is to shop with organisations
where you'll find modern nightwear and casual clothing in natural
fabrics like organic cotton and hemp. Realistically though, your
wardrobe will be a bit limited if you only shop with avowed ethical
suppliers. For example, business suits aren't available, and there's
also a distinct absence of formal trousers.
If dressing ethical isn't enough for you, you'll
want to think about getting ethically active. Campaigning means
putting pressure on high street retailers to make sure they check
all the sources of the clothes they sell, to ensure good working
conditions in the factories that produce them.
We know they can do it, because, as Panorama
revealed, many of them already operate locally-based quality control
checks in factories where their garments are made. If you want to
support an established campaign, consider the Clean
Clothes Campaign. Guaranteed to leave your conscience whiter
than white. Hand wash only. Do not tumble dry.
Some good news is that several leading companies - including Sainsbury's,
Levi Strauss, Marks & Spencer, Monsoon and Tesco - have joined
together in the Ethical
Trading Initiative. Their aim is to work towards ensuring that
all clothes they sell are made by workers who enjoy fair working
conditions as laid down in a Code of Practice.
The ETI's 'Base Code' calls for safe hygienic factories, collective
bargaining, fair pay, a ban on child labour, living wages, reasonable
working hours and regular employment.
All's fair in love and shopping. Or is it? The never-ending world
take-over by multi-national companies has left many poor people
behind. Global trading often increases their poverty through unfair
trading rules and sharp practices, and little attention is paid
to the way that this affects the environment.
Food additives are also a big issue. For example, it's widely believed
that artificial hormones in meat are playing a part in speeding
up the onset of puberty in young girls, particularly in the United
States. It's also thought that such hormones may have carcinogenic
effects. So what can we do, as consumers, to make things better?
Put simply: choose GM-free, fairly traded, free-range,
organic food; buy from farmers' markets; use enviro-friendly household
products; say 'no' to over-packaged goods. On the whole it's as
easy as it sounds. Here are some pointers to help.
Organic food is grown without the use of pesticides or artificial
fertilisers, both of which are responsible for water pollution and
harm to wildlife. The system is monitored by the Soil
Association, which enforces strict standards for organic producers.
Look for their distinctive logo on produce in your local supermarket
- you'll find it on their website.
In the case of meat, 'organic' also means not giving the animals
things like artificial growth hormones, or excessive doses of antibiotics
that aren't genuinely needed for health reasons. For environmental
reasons, the Soil Association also opposes the use of genetically
modified (GM) crops in food production. Christian Aid shares these
concerns. Find out more from our International
Policy Briefing paper on GMOs.
One popular way of going organic is to join a
box scheme. Schemes are run in local areas, and for a fixed fee
a selection of organic produce can be delivered to your home every
week. Find out more from Organics
Direct or the enticing Organic
If you're a meat-eater who's concerned about
animal welfare, you could make sure you buy free-range eggs (battery
farm conditions are close to barbaric), and look out for the RSPCA's
Foods symbol on packaging, to guarantee minimum welfare standards
for rearing, transporting and slaughtering. Their website has the
Or if things like the BSE scandal have left you wary of meat altogether,
you might consider becoming vegetarian; there are many health benefits,
which you can find out about from the Vegetarian
Fair trade is another good way to put your ethics
where your money is. Large companies have enormous bargaining power
and often use it to force poor farmers in developing countries to
accept very low sums for their crops.
Since the farmers have no other outlets and are reliant on farming
income to feed their families and educate their children, they've
had no choice but to accept. Until the invention of fair trade,
that is. Now, the list of fair trade goods is ever increasing.
It already includes rice, beans, coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar and
dried fruits, and is worth around £23.2 million pounds per
year in sales.
The beauty of the fair trade system is that small-scale
producers are guaranteed a fair price for their goods, and long-term
trading relationships (instead of ruthless market forces) allow
them to plan for the future and invest in their communities. This
means, for example, that they can build schools or provide safe,
clean water supplies.
A large proportion of fair trade foods are monitored and certified
by the Fairtrade
Foundation, whose symbol is your guarantee of a fair deal for
farmers. Other fair trade suppliers include Oxfam,
who sell a range of fair trade foods in their network of shops and
online. And if you're a campaigning type of person, remember to
keep up the pressure on supermarkets to stock and broaden the range
of fairly traded goods on their shelves. Take a look at the Fairtrade
Don't forget sea-life when you're shopping, either.
By buying dolphin-friendly tuna you can be sure that no drift nets
have been used to catch it. Drift nets can stretch for miles and
are extremely dangerous for dolphins, turtles and seals, all of
which can get tangled up in them and drown.
And if thinking of dolphins in supermarkets sends you bananas, what
about thinking of bananas themselves? By choosing small sweet bananas
from the Windward Islands (Jamaica, St Lucia etc.) you will be supporting
small-scale farmers rather than the giant American corporations
who own huge plantations (often with very poor labour conditions)
in places like Costa Rica.
If you've heard the slogan 'Think Global, Act
Local' you've probably wondered how to live it. One way to 'act
local' is to 'shop local', at farmers' markets. The produce won't
all be organic, but it will be from your local area. When you remember
that sometimes we're eating apples from New Zealand rather than
from Somerset, you can imagine how much energy and aeroplane pollution
you'll be saving. More details are available from Big
Within many communities, the local shops are
disappearing. The Village
Retail Services Association is campaigning to help 'Save Our
Shop' and 'Save Our Post Office' across the UK.
homes and gardens
With so many ways to make your home and your garden more ethical,
it's hard to know where to begin.
We'll start outside in the garden while the weather's
nice (we can go inside later on). Now, if you thought you could
detect a faint smell of something, you're right. That's because
a great way to make your garden more eco-friendly is to go organic,
and that means giving up on chemical fertilisers like artificial
nitrates and choosing natural sources such as well-rotted manure
The beauty of organic fertilisers is that they're cheap to buy -
many farms and stables sell manure for as little as £1 per
bag - they're a form of recycling (think about it) and they release
their goodness slowly rather than all at once. It also means there's
much less chance of nitrates finding their way into our water supply,
where they pose a health risk. If you're a fan of blood, fish and
bone meal, but you're a veggie too, you could try animal-free fertiliser
in the form of calcified seaweed, available from The
Organic Catalogue. And recycle your garden waste by composting
too with instructions from the Centre
for Alternative Technology, Europe's leading eco-centre, based
in Machynlleth, Wales. The Centre also provides information on haybox
cookery (but why would you want to cook hayboxes?!) and roofing
your home with turf. Now you can't get greener than that.
Another garden tip is to create your own fertiliser
and compost from organic kitchen waste. If you want to do it in
style, get hold of a wormery where carefully chosen worms process
waste into rich nutritious compost that will be a hit with your
cabbages and just about everything else you're growing. And yes,
this does mean you can even buy worms online at the gloriously-named
Wigglers, which will also sell you worm compost if you can't
stand the thought of making it yourself, and all kinds of ways of
keeping the birds in your garden happy (and yes, that includes worms
Unfortunately pests won't greet your change to organic gardening
by disappearing. But there are things you can do. First of all practise
crop rotation to reduce susceptibility to common diseases, and use
smart methods like biological control, where you purchase nice insects
(like ladybirds) to eat the pesky insects (like aphids). You can
also use physical barriers like Enviromesh, which prevents carrot
root fly and other nasty bugs from getting to your prize parsnips
(and carrots). Once again, The
Organic Catalogue has all you'll need. And if you must resort
to pesticides, use products with natural plant extracts rather than
lab-produced chemicals. Look out for sprays based on extract of
neem, a traditional Indian pest-control plant.
If you've used peat in your garden in the past,
stop right now. Peat is extracted from peat bogs, which are delicate
natural environments and which take a very long time to form. The
mass destruction of these bogs is a serious threat to certain species
of plants and animals. An excellent peat substitute is coir (pronounced
'coy-ya'), which is derived from coconut fibre. Pester your garden
centre to stock it.
Now you've got your garden fertilised, what are you going to plant
in it? Through the Henry
Doubleday Research Association, 'Adopt-a-Veg' and save endangered
vegetable varieties, as well as getting heaps of hints on organic
gardening from people who really know their stuff (they're professional
And if the flowers and lawn are making you sneeze,
Allergy Foundation will give you help and support for all kinds
of allergies, from the common to the downright strange. A site not
to be sneezed at (sorry).
Since it's getting dark now, let's move indoors,
pausing briefly to point out that for lovely summer evenings in
the garden, you might like to try solar-powered lights which charge
in the daylight, then create mood lighting at night. Solar works,
even in the UK (we have solar power-lit bus stops to prove it) -
Century has all the techie details on photovoltaic (PV) technology,
and has a very enviable environmental policy and standards. Solar
lights are available from Just
As you step through the door and switch the lights on, consider
where you are getting your power. UNIT[E]
is the only power supplier to offer 100 per cent renewable energy
and weird square brackets in the company name. The
Energy Saving Trust will help you to save energy, save money
and save the planet, all in one place.
A groovy site that can help you choose energy-saving products, point
you towards government grants, and show you how to save £462
million on your electricity bill (between the lot of you). The only
thing it doesn't do is lag the loft for you (although some local
councils will at a fraction of the cost. Visit your local council's
website to see if they run such a scheme).
Indoors, recycling is one of the obvious ways to make your lifestyle
more sustainable. Buy yourself some sturdy plastic crates and collect
glass, tins, aluminium foil, paper and plastics. Most supermarkets
have recycling points, and in cities local authorities often provide
roadside facilities in local areas.
To find out if your local council runs a kerbside scheme, where
recycling boxes are collected from your home (or to lobby them to
start one), visit The
Green Directory where you can search for the contact details
of people to talk to.
Another form of recycling is to think twice before
throwing away household objects that you don't want any more. Your
old TV, computer or sofa might not be what you want any more but
chances are that someone out there would be delighted to have it.
Give your favourite charity shop a call and ask if they'll sell
the things you no longer need. That way you avoid sending more waste
to landfill sites and you help to raise money for causes you care
about, so everybody's a winner. The Association
of Charity Shops' website has a search engine for local charity
While you're at the charity shop, have a look
around. You might find that elusive something you've spent months
looking for, and this way you won't be adding momentum to our voracious
Nobody likes household chores but you can make them easier, on your
conscience at least, by carefully choosing the cleaning products
you use. You'll want to avoid companies that still test on animals
- for a list, list visit People
for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), who will tell you
how to be nice to bunnies, get chummy with chickens and will explain
how cows are cool but milk sucks. PeTA are the reasonable face of
animal rights, keeping watch on circuses and all manner of corporate
shenanigans. Related sites include the intriguing JesusVeg.com,
discussing why Christians should be vegetarians. Strange but true.
Another important issue with cleaning products
is what's in them. Chlorine bleach is highly toxic and a bad thing
to be flushing into the sewage system, and not all detergents break
down into harmless substances when we wash them down the sink. By
choosing a range like Ecover,
available from many supermarkets and health food shops, or online
Shop, you can be sure that you're not adding to pollution while
you're adding sparkle round the rim of the loo or doing the washing
If you care for young children who are still in nappies think hard
about whether you use disposable nappies or 'old-fashioned' washable
ones. Disposable nappies use enormous amounts of paper, take lots
of energy to produce, and can take over 100 years to biodegrade
properly in already-packed landfill sites. Why not become a convert
to the original and the best? Find out how at RealNappy.com.
When decorating your home, remember to choose lead-free paints which
have low-levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It'll save
you from breathing nasty fumes and it's kinder to the atmosphere
too. And, when the paint's dry, all you need to add are a few fair
trade crafts for a finishing touch, and you'll have the ultimate
green home, whatever your favourite colour. And for furnishsings,
So - you've put everything you earn into the
mortgage payments for your green, fairly traded, low environmental
impact home, and it's left you skint. Join the 40,000 people who're
already decorating their homes and buying bread without it costing
a penny. Use LETSLink
UK to find your local scheme, or start your own with help from
their online guides. Learn how LETS (Local Exchange Trading System)
units aren't like money and spot the difference between debt and
But if you want to leave the rat race entirely,
Eco-Village Network gives you an incredibly diverse assortment
of international eco-villages, along with a calendar of right-on
festivals and events from John O'Groats to the Lizard, and you can
even branch out and join a live web-chat.
In many ways ethical living and shopping are
all about questioning the ways we do things to see if they're right
for us, or if there's a better, more satisfying path to follow.
And the same goes for leisure time too.
How about exploring the way people express their
faith in different parts of the world? Or taking some time out to
imagine what life would be like living day-to-day in a developing
country? A book you'll want to consider is Wake Up World! It's available
and follows a day in the life of a group of children from around
the world, from the moment they wake until bedtime. The book is
aimed mainly at children and young people, but you're guaranteed
to find there are plenty new discoveries in its pages for the big
kid in all of us.
If you want to get involved with campaigning for the environment,
the internet is a good place to start. Greenpeace
is a group of activists that have literally put their lives on the
line for the ethical issues they believe in. their website has lots
of fascinating, downloadable info. And yes, they really do have
a Save the Whales section. Another environmental campaigning group,
of the Earth, provides all kinds of eco-campaigning resources,
local, national and international. More locally, Common
Ground is a bunch of artists-cum-environmentalists championing
causes like local distinctiveness, fields and orchards.
More general sources of information include:
Ethical - online source for ethical products and Ethical Matters,
the magazine for the socially aware reader
Junction - makes ethical choices easy, with a directory, search
facility (including ethical entertainment, searchable by region)
and shopping centre
Environmental Network - WEN does not just tackle women's issues
- campaigns have included waste prevention (a crucial complement
to recycling), GM foods, and sourcing food locally
Websites are all very well, but you can't read them in the bath
(unless you have a waterproof laptop). Ethical
Consumer magazine and New
Internationalist are well-established sources for ethical information,
and their webpages provide teaching resources, ethical shopping,
ways to take action and more. You can get a discounted subscription
to New Internationalist by clicking