Tag Archives: ethics

A photo of my first veg box!

The Edible Treasure Trove

A photo of my first veg box!

A photo of my first veg box!

As you may know, I’m a university student. I may be incredibly wealthy compared with many people around the world, but compared with other people in the UK I’m pretty skint. This means that for the last year I haven’t been shopping in my local healthfood store nearly as often as I’d like and have instead been sulking around the crowded aisles of Aldi. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Aldi is a super super cheap supermarket. I know, shoot me now. If it makes it any better I also shop at an independent Indian food shop and I used to go to the farmers market before my lectures started clashing with it. But it’s still pretty poor for an aspiring environmentalist. Also, the fruit and vegetables from Aldi are horrible. Always tasteless, sometimes mouldy.

SO – enter the organic local veg box.
That’s right, I’ve finally got it together and signed up with Riverford Organics.

Above is a photo of my first veg box. Aren’t the colours wonderfully vibrant?

Anyway, they had a stall at the Brighton Veggie Fest last month and the vegetables looked so lush and the guys running it were so friendly that I took a leaflet and decided to sign up right away. After a quick (ok three weeks) jaunt across the country to see my friends and family over Easter I decided to order the Mini Fruit and Veg box for £13.45 per week.

This is going to cause quite a dent in my weekly budget as I’m used to spending only £20 a week on all my food. However, if I was working full time (even at minimum wage) I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at this cost as I know you get what you pay for when it comes to quality.  Aldi was a lot cheaper but the veg box option is better in several other ways:

a) It’s organic, fresher and seasonal, making it healthier and tastier
b) It’s more convenient, as it’s delivered to your door
c) It’s more ethical, as it’s supporting a smaller business rather than a supermarket
d) It’s better for the environment, as there’s much less food miles and pollution
e) It inspires a more varied diet, because you get different seasonal veg
f) It helps you keep in touch with the seasons and with the Earth

There’s also another benefit specific to my situation. I love fruit and will eat it as a snack if it’s available, but the fruit from Aldi was so horrible I never ate it, leaving me tempted to snack on other things such as crisps. Now I can grab an organic apple instead when I’m feeling peckish!

For all these reasons I would really recommend checking out their website or indeed another local veg box scheme that operates in your area or country. Bare in mind that there are loads of boxes to choose from, varying in size, price and contents, so there’s bound to be one that suites you.

For the record, here’s what I got in my box last week:

  • Broccoli
  • Aubergine
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Courgettes
  • Apples
  • Oranges

All the produce was in great condition and tasted wonderful. The apples were especially good!
I’m planning to juggle around my finances so I can afford to keep this up.
Working on a tight budget is all about prioritising!

Not So Innocent

I’ve always been a big fan of Innocent Smoothies. They taste delicious, they’re healthy, they sometimes come with little hats and they always come with jokes and witty quips on their bottles. What’s not to like?

Well, a month ago I would have simply answered that with “well, they’re pretty overpriced and they’re not organic” but now things have turned a little sour for the fruit-filled favourite.

Bombshell: they’re now over 90% owned by Coca Cola.
Innocent? I think not.

A friend of mine told me this when she saw me drinking one the other week, and I was so shocked complained about it to my mum but she wasn’t that surprised. She said they’d been gearing up to this for a while. The Guardian says Coca Cola bought 18% of the company in 2009, and a further 38% in 2010, so this isn’t really new at all. What is new though, is that they now own over 90% of the company and will now be making all of the important decisions.

The Guardian’s article quotes Richard Reed, one of the founders of Innocent, stating that:

“Our aim was to make Innocent a global brand and take its ethical values to the world’s consumers. We decided that we would be able to do a better job of that with Coke.”

I’m sorry, but since when was Coke any kind of ethical pioneer?

One of my course-mates has been doing quite a lot of research concerning water scarcity in poor countries, and Coke has time and time again come up as a culprit. Apparently there’s plenty of cases of them digging wells in water-deprived areas, taking all of the clean water for their factories and leaving the area polluted – with local people unable to do anything about it.
Not to mention their end product is a disgusting toxic dental bill and addiction waiting to happen.
Or that they make millions of pounds out of childhood obesity. From production to marketing to consumption, this is a company that makes all of its money by exploiting people (and natural resources of course) and none of it by doing anything good.

I have to say I’ve lost all respect for Innocent over this shameful sell-out, and I want everyone to know they don’t deserve their name anymore.

They won’t be seeing the inside of my purse again.

An Ethical Question

Continuing on from my last post, The Consumption Engineer, I now have an ethical question in my mind.

On the one hand, I believe it is wrong to manipulate people in any way, and that we should always have freedom of choice.

But on the other hand… Maybe Public Relations (PR) can do for sustainability what it at first did for consumerism? Maybe there are lessons to be learned here about how to mobilize public opinion and create real change. Maybe all environmentalism needs to be adopted by the majority is a sexy make-over and some good PR? I’m really not joking. I think it could be done. Obviously one or two pretty posters wouldn’t cut it, but with a full-blown effort I think skilled PR could promote what one of my lecturers calls ‘The New Environmental Paradigm’.

But is this just as bad as what Edward Bernays did?

I personally don’t think so, but perhaps that’s just because environmentalism is my personal mindset. Of course I like it. But is this taking away people’s free choice?

Contrarily, should people have free choice to trash the planet? Isn’t that taking away the choice from future generations, not to mention all other species?

There are a lot of questions flying around my mind on this subject. If you have any thoughts on the matter please share below..

The Earth Charter

Last night I found out about something amazing.

It’s this international document called The Earth Charter. I feel it is most succinctly described by the official website:

The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental ethical principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century.

The Earth Charter Initiative.

It actually made me cry with happiness to read something as bravely ethical as this. It’s formal and intelligent, but definitely readable – no legalese or anything. And the text is free to download in a plethora of languages, and it’s only like 3  pages long. The charter is divided up into four sections, which are labelled Respect and care for the community of life, Ecological Integrity, Economic and social justice, and Democracy, non-violence and peace. Each of  these sections then contains several principles.

The Earth Charter has the support of over 4500 organisations from around the world, including many major internationals and governments. However at the moment it seems to be too radical for my own government’s endorsement…

What I like best about it is that it doesn’t focus solely on environmental issues but addresses social, cultural and economic issues as well. It is the moral framework for a sustainable and much happier future.

Here’s the link to The Earth Charter Initiative website – and you can read the whole document for free HERE.

Read it today and spread the word!

Too Many People!

Over-population is a very touchy subject. It’s much easier to kind of ignore it and try to just deal with everything else. This post was actually inspired by my doing just that. I was posting all these great ideas about organic farming, recycling, passive solar heating and etc in an earlier post (What Are We Aiming For) and EcoCatLady wisely suggested that finding a decent way to limit our population was really they key thing.

And it is. But how?

The reason it’s such a charged topic is because there aren’t really any obvious and ethically acceptable ways of stopping people having so many babies. Rightly enough, we think this is our business. The creation of new life is a sacred and ridiculously personal thing. Whether you have 2 or 4 kids is something to discuss with your partner, not your government.

Nevertheless, our global population is now roughly 7 billion, and growing. How great it’s likely to get before it plateaus is up for debate because it really depends on how many humans the planet can support. It won’t get beyond that because our natural resources will be spread too thin for us to all survive. We don’t know what that number is because we’ve never before in history pushed Earth to it’s limits in this way. But we can assume from small scale scenarios, like what happens when fish over-breed in a pond, that when it is reached, things won’t be going well for us.

The fertility rate (number of children per woman) that is required to sustain the population is 2.1. In the West the fertility rates are somewhere around or even below that, but in the Developing World, where most of our population growth is happening, it can be as high as 7.

The problem is darkly ironic: any progress with developing countries getting out of poverty and gaining better living conditions is actually worsening the issue of over-population because although the death rates from hunger and disease may go down, the birth rate often does not. This is ridiculous – a situation where curing babies of water-borne diseases is in some way bad for the world is not a situation I’m happy to have.

Clearly, the birth rate of these countries needs to decline along with the death rate, but how this is managed is not at all simple. For example, I’ve never been to Uganda, (fertility rate 6.7) but I can only assume that having large families is deeply engrained in their culture. It’s difficult to change.

As I have already mentioned, there aren’t any clear-cut and ethical ways to make that change. China is famous for it’s one-child policy, and although effective, other countries are not exactly clamouring to copy them because of the brutality of this strategy. Despite being “optional” and not an actual law, Chinese women pregnant with a second child would be forced to abort, risking being fined, jailed or fired from her job if she didn’t.

Happily, there are some positive sounding correlations relating to this issue. Apart from the obvious fact that not everyone in the world has knowledge of and access to contraception, and that birth rates go down a lot when they do, it seems women’s independence correlates smoothly with lower fertility rates. When women have little other purpose in society other than to have children, it would make sense to have a lot of them. But when women are taught to read, they tend to have fewer babies. When they have education and jobs, it lessens still. In the West, where men and women both have rewarding careers as well as family life, the fertility rate is below the replacement rate. Family size is also smaller in urban rather than rural areas, and tends to shrink with affluence.

I will also add that although China has a low fertility rate of about 1.5, it is not the lowest in the world. Other countries that have had no population limiting policies such as Taiwan, Italy, Greece, Japan and some 20 others actually have lower fertility rates. It seems humans appreciate free choice on this matter. I guess education is the only useful tool here. Explaining why it’s a problem, improving literacy and education on the subject of contraception and family planning. Human population is an issue I think is really important, but apart from not having more than 2 children myself, I don’t know there’s much else I can do about it…

Resources:

The Meaning of the 21st Century  - James Martin

The Constant Economy - Zac Goldsmith

www.nationmaster.com/graph/peo_tot_fer_rat-people-total-fertility-rate

Ethletic Trainers


This may look like a Converse shoe, but it’s actually an Ethletic.

Now I would usually have qualms about the copy-cat nature of this, but these shoes have some serious credidentials worth taking into consideration.

They’re made of Fairtrade and organic cotton, and the soles are Fairtrade and FSC rubber, and they are assembled in Pakistan where the workers are payed a Fairtrade premium. This pays for health and welfare fascilities they would otherwise be living without. They’re vegan friendly, very soft, and have supporting arches for your feet, making them lovely and comfortable.

For something that ethical, I’d be expecting to drop my purse in horror when I see the price, but they’re only £45.

I’m kind of surprised there isn’t some kind of copy right thing about them looking literally the same as a well known brand. But at least there’s no doubt about the consumer popularity of the design?…

You can read about and buy Ethletic shoes here:

http://www.thefaircorp.com/

Innocent?

In my last post, I wrote about cute ‘product image’ and use of humour making green products more lovable and successful. And of course you can’t really talk about this cutesy friendly style of marketing without mentioning who brought it to popularity: Innocent Smoothies.

I love Innocent smoothies. They have adorable ingredients lists reassuring the noble drinker that there are no rubber ducks or kitchen sinks inside, and I am instructed to “shake it, baby” before I open the carton. And not to mention, they’re verrryy delicious, especially the banana and strawberry. Mmm.

And yet, I didn’t put them in my list of favourite green brands because they aren’t organic, and I feel they should be, and that this lack threatens their innocent status, if you will. Also selling smoothies to McDonald’s was a bit of a sin.

So as you can tell, I was under the impression they didn’t do much in the way of championing respect for the environment. But happily, their website reflects otherwise. Take a look at their ethics page. They actually do all sorts of stuff like using recycled plastic for their bottles, using renewable energy in their offices and donating 10% of profits to the Innocent Foundation, which funds rural development projects in the countries they get their fruit from. How good is that? I must say my opinion of them is very much improved and they may even of earned themselves an honorary place in my list. I bet they’d be thrilled.

Bright Green & Rolling In It!

There’s this bizarre thing where all too often you see really ethical innovative products/companies that just aren’t that successful because their marketing, packaging, advertising and general PR just isn’t very good. It’s really annoying. I think it’s because they’re run by people who have admirable passion but little business skill.

Anyway, here are my Top 5  favourite brands that have decent eco credentials AND top it off with coolness. In no particular order, here we go.


1) Method
http://www.methodlaundry.com/

Man, this is the closest anyone can get to being excited about laundry detergent. I just love the way their website is so clean and cool, and their ‘How to Use’ video is beautiful. They are all smug about having this fancy ‘smart clean technology’ which I’ll admit I don’t entirely understand, but what it means is it’s super concentrated- you have enough for 50 loads of laundry in one little bottle and of course that makes it greener because you’re generally using less stuff. And their totally transparent about their ingredients, which I wish more people were, and 95% of them are natural and renewable. It’s non-toxic and biodegradable (none of that nasty water pollution) and they have a cute and helpful squirty pump thing. This is the future.

2) Booja Booja 
www.boojabooja.com

First of all, they’re called Booja Booja. That’s enough to make them awesome. Also their icecream and truffles are mouth wateringly delicious, I especially recommend the raspberry chocolates. They’re all vegan and organic, and they don’t ever sell to supermarkets because they find them unethical. What I love most though, is that in the boxes of chocolates they have these little ‘boojagram’ cards, that say things like: “The universe is an illusion created by women with balloons”. And before you ask, yes, I do collect them.


3) Remarkable
www.remarkable.co.uk

Remarkable are a fantastic company. They make gorgeous stationary like the above notebook from recycled materials like tyres, plastic bottles and waste cardboard. This is why I recycle, being able to see something good and worthwhile coming from it like this. And they’re famous for their conversational quips dancing along rulers and telling you to ‘send me back to my maker’. I might buy one of these today actually I need a new Ideas Book.


4) Life’s Not Fair But My Knickers Are
www.lifesnotfairbutmyknickersare.com

I have some pajamas from this company and they’re so pretty and soft and comfortable. As you can most likely tell by the name, all their underwear is made from fair trade cotton, which is of course a very good thing. (Incidentally I wrote a very relevant article for my college paper on cotton recently, I’ll post it). I like them because they haven’t fallen into the trap many fairtrade clothing labels do of over doing the wholesome look. Their website has professional looking models doing shoots for the different collections, pulling seductive poses over vintage tables full of dainty china. I like that.

5) Um, Yeah
So when I first wrote this post (waiting for the bus) I intended it to be a ‘Top 5′ kind of deal, but soon came to the sad conclusion I don’t actually have a number 5 that fits my criteria. See this is what I mean, we need more of these kind of companies. Humour and prettiness wins people over, there’s no denying it. I’m hungry for the ethics and style combo, so if you spot any innovative flashes of genius that could be a number 5 on this list, tell me now!
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