This is a Q that I get all the time: “How to start my eco-fair journey? What to do first?” Consider this post my answer to the budding ethical consumer’s confusion.
Adventurer, as I sat down to write this post I thought that I could have given this essay a fun, wicked click-bait kind of title:
My Ultimate Guide To Ethical Life
or maybe something more catchy for people who love lists?
3 No-Brainer Ways To Being An Ethical Angel
or perhaps something touchy-feely for those who are into motivational stuff:
5 Reasons Why You Already *Are* The Seed Of Change You Want To See
Well, well. I think those are actually very nice headlines.
But instead, I chose a title that’s a quote from real discussions, something that occurs in many ways in several hundreds of questions: but what can I do?
Sometimes the person will emphasize the “what”, and often the “I”; and so many facets oscillate in between those five words, very often going from “but I’m so small” to “but this is so huge”, from “I just can’t keep up with the latest facts” to “I’m afraid to make wrong decisions”, from “I have to make a living and got other things to worry about” to “green lifestyle is expensive as #!X*” – and much, much more.
My best advice for seekers is based on my belief that we all KNOW about how we affect the world and the people with our decisions today – there is no hiding from this unconvenient truth.
Chances are high that by buying conventional and non-transparent you support unethical, unsustainable businesses, voting with your money for sweatshop and actual slavery (yes, not just exploitation: modern slavery), for deforestation and habitat loss, for animal cruelty, for monocultures, for dangerous chemicals…
There is simply No Alternative to going green & ethical and to becoming a wiser, more informed individual. So how to do that?
1. To get started: know who you are to find what matters most to you. Don’t ever be preoccupied with how tiny the change will be!
2. Make a decision and let the reasons be good so you don’t need to look back.
3. Don’t compromise: grow
Know who you are, find what matters most
Sometimes a person would raise a brow and say in a slightly defiant way:
“Why, I haven’t got anything big that matters to me. Just some small-ish things. Life, you know.”
Thankfully, individuals who are exclusively and deeply driven by materialistic goals like buying a convertible or getting the latest reach-me-down or reaching another hundred fans on Instagram are rare. What matters most to you is something that feeds your soul. This doesn’t mean of course that you must neglect what feeds your body.
But we all do have deep, authentic desires rooted in big ideas like inspiration, learning, support, care, love and affection. We all have our own intense fears – not belonging, not being enough, being forever alone, fear of loss. Find the most intense joy. Face the most intense fear. The place where they meet, that vibrating, intense place of what we are taught to believe is pain; a place where your joy and fear are acknowledged but not judged, this is the living core of who you are.
There you’ll find a version of you that makes you feel… real. Maybe you’re not there yet. Maybe it’s who you used to be or who you have given up to become. Maybe you’re there but not listening.
Try to feel that person. What do they support? And most importantly, what do they deny?
I emphasize that because you want to understand your beliefs, also the negative ones, but not just run away from fears. A change driven by unrecognised fear is a downward spiral.
See, in the end, we all walk our life’s path alone. The trick is to not feel alone. And when you know who you are, when you love who you are, you are walking with a friend and you can attract others like you.
But when you’re afraid because you don’t know yourself and are not friends with yourself, you’ll feel weak and become easily manipulated. You will do too much, you will desire what’s not yours, you will get greedy out of emptiness, or you will get self-important, judgemental and arrogant, or you will succumb to self-pity, to envy, to blaming others… As I said, a downward spiral. Wheeeeeew…
On the other hand, an individual that knows and accepts her or his fears and demons is vulnerable – but will be at peace with them, more or less so. This individual will understand it whenever the fears raise their heads and want their share, and act accordingly, kindly, and wisely.
An individual too afraid to face her or his fears and demons is not vulnerable but haunted and lost.
Let’s wrap it up:
To create love-driven change, don’t listen to the buzz.
Listen to what matters most to you.
Make a damn good decision based on damn good reasons
The real You has not just virtues and vices, but also values. The real You will feel what you can support and what you cannot. This is a vibrant, a happy dimension of decisiveness that the blinking world of today is stealing from us, suggesting that we can, and must, have it all.
Damn good reasons are juicy, beaming reasons too good to be discussed.
“I support only ethical businesses” is a universal answer to whoever tries to sell you something.
“I am always fair towards others and I demand to be treated the same” is a universal point in negotiations that can save you a lot of fuss.
What is acceptable to you? What is not acceptable?
You don’t need to have an opinion on everything out there. Some areas will forever remain your terra incognita – it’s not possible, it’s not even desirable to know all. But life feels so much better when you know where you stand, where you’re headed – and when you can explain, why.
If there’s one thing a puppy can teach you for life than it’s that No means no.
If you say no ten times, and yell FFS OKAY! in the end, the puppy will be cajoling eleven times because it knows exactly when you break.
In life, we are surrounded by such “puppies”, people who’d go OH COME ON and OH DON’T BE RIDICULOUS, and let’s not forget the WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE. But what if your decision is rooted in a damn good reason? Why discuss, why betray that reason for other people’s agendas? (We’re not talking big decisions, we’re talking exactly the oh-come-on-crowd that’s not supporting your key beliefs.)
Then you just wouldn’t care, right?
Life is not a black and white paper cut, so of course you’ll grow and revisit some decisons at one time or another. But the big things in life, the values, your reasons, these are not made for compromises.
This wouldn’t be the place it is if I left you only with my thoughts and no practical advice at all.
Here is a simple – and to me, funny 🙂 – list to help you jump-start your green and ethical Quest:
1. NOM NOM NOM.
Find a delicious food, an easy to make recipe for a sweet or savoury treat or for a home-made beverage to replace your fave “you know I’m no good” packaged foods like chips, chocolates, cookies, bretzels, as well as candy or sweet spreads made from industrial sugar, conflict palm oil and artificial colourings, preservatives and flavourings.
Great ideas for healthy comfort food wait for you in modern, fabulous vegan cookbooks (like these and these) and on food blogs. Green smoothies, green juices and green teas offer a lot more refreshment and flavour than any cola, lemonade, or soda.
+ If you want to reduce your intake of sugar, please read this.
2. GAME OF BAD THRONES.
Once in a short while (a week or two is good for the start), explore your home and play the “who’s the most toxic of them all” game – pick one item per room that seems like a champion of toxins and poisons (this post could give you a few ideas).
Most of them will probably be conventional sanitisers or detergents, PVC items or phthalate-laden fake leather, toxic UV filters in lotions or a scented candle that gives you headaches… Just go for it and crown the toxic King or Queen of Things per room!
And then overthrow their stinky highnesses and replace them with an eco-fabulous product.
Eco-fabulous means: produced ethically, maybe locally, raw materials are petrochemical- and toxin-free, sourced in an environmentally friendly, sustainable way; the ingredient check with EWG/Skindeep or Codecheck reveals a tox-free formula.
Bonus perk: repeat this level ad lib and let your kids play it also.
3. MIND DETOX.
Try for one day to go on a thought detox and don’t think anything bad.
Don’t read or share or listen to gossip (I bet you don’t), don’t judge, don’t blame. Ask people if they need your help. Show your appreciation to people you’d usually not expect they needed appreciation (maybe your boss can need a little thumbs up, or maybe your teacher is awesome?) and to people who are constantly underappreciated, taken for granted – our partners, our friends, our mothers. “They know allright”, right? Wrong.
Be and feel generous. Don’t expect the national newspapers to hurry to your door to give you the hero of the day badge, just enjoy the clean, bright, powerful feeling of being at peace, of being a creator – a creator of inspiring thoughts, good deeds, and great change – and not a wrecker.
List to be continued…
And no, Adventurer, I don’t take You for granted.
Thank you for finding me and for sticking around – for reading, liking, commenting, and sharing, thank you for your questions and concerns, discussions started and ideas shared. Keep it up!