Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Bags of Choice....

“The Earth is not dying, it is being killed,
and those who are killing it have names and addresses”
- Utah Phillips

Today's TLBG topic is Morsebags. Have you heard of them? I did, 2 years ago when they were featured in Sewing World. I made a few and gave some away. I have since made lots of other types of shopping bags, and I have given some away as presents, and I know lots of you have too, and continue to do so. I can't really add much to what's already been said about this campaign by Rachel over at TLGB, or by Morsbags themselves on their website which makes tragic reading .... but I can ask the question - what of the things we use our bags for? We may have ethical bags, but what about our shopping?

How can we shop ethically and where do we draw the line?

We all live within the boundaries of our own ethics, whatever they may be, and becoming an ethical consumer is a gradual process. It is also different for everyone and whilst the accepted definition of ethical purchasing is: “buying things that are made ethically by companies that act ethically”, the concept of “ethical” is a subjective term, both for companies and consumers. In its truest form it means “without harm to or exploitation of humans, animals or the environment”. In practical every day life for example, this could mean that it is ethical both to choose a meat free lifestyle or to only eat locally produced organic meat, or to buy your petrol from BP instead of Esso, etc. etc., Finding your own ethical limits is the first step. Sticking to them is the difficult part.

I don’t believe we should spend excessive amounts of time compiling lists of who makes what, and therefore what to avoid. As I have said before, this is a lifestyle based upon choice, not denial – look at all the things you CAN have instead of the few things you can’t have. Look elsewhere. Do some research. What are the alternatives? Who are the companies who pride themselves on their quality and their ethics? And who are the ones who are covering up? There are many small companies who make goods of a much higher quality and for not much more money than anything you can purchase from a supermarket shelf or a high street store. Organic Box Schemes, farm shops, markets and health food stores are ways of shopping for groceries which avoid the weekly horror of the supermarket – and although these options may at first glance look more expensive, consider how many things you buy at the supermarket that you don’t need when “double bonus points” or “buy one get one free” offers make certain goods irresistible. It's all about quality not quantity (I've said it before and i'll say it every time!). Ethical shopping can save money and finding ethical products can turn into quite a fun challenge, made even easier by the internet, with many goods and services being available directly from the manufacturer. You will soon find just as much choice – if not more – than before. One of my biggest bugbears in life is when I hear someone saying "I can't afford to shop ethically - it's too expensive" when they have 3 cars on the drive, and/or enjoy 2 holidays a year... Choice... it's all about choice.


Gina said...

I look forward to your "green" posts Julia. I think we all need reminding of these issues constantly.

Pomona said...

I think you know how much I am with you on this one - I think it all comes down to trying to cultivate an attitude of mindfulness in everything we do, and thinking through the consequences. And I agree with your point about the cost - we have achieved what we have by going easy on holidays, DVDs, TVs, etc, and yet none of us feels deprived or unhappy (and that includes the younger members of the family) - quite the contrary!

Pomona x

Jenni said...

I hear you! I take one small step at a time and then I'm not so overwhelmed. My children's school is quite pro-active with these issues which is really great!

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Billie Jane said...

Very thought provoking as always. And of course... can't disagree with you at all. My goal this year has been to simply buy less stuff all round... its very hard to get out of the consumer habit and it creeps back in the moment you are off guard. But I'm sort of getting there.

Indigo Blue said...

Hi Julia,
I have been talking about this very topic today at school! Are you free next Thursday morning as I would love you to come and chat with Year 10 GCSE Textiles group. I can offer you tea and lovely food made in the Food Depart.
PS I now about Morsbags and I have that lined up for Year 10 too.
Josie at sillyskyesite makes loads. Not sure if I have her blog name quite right there.

Anonymous said...

Well said. I love my hemp shopping totes, not only do they fit more groceries, by many more of us using totes they might help lower the cost of food because stores won't have to purchase as many logo stamped plastic bags. Who knows?

Emma & Rachel said...

Once again, excelent post. I totally agree with you on ethical shopping. I try to shop better in areas I can and seem to be improving as time goes by. I dont think ethical shopping is as expensive as people state....just think about all the produce that is wasted. Surely if you paid that little bit more for it you are going to value that produce rather than just saying well it was cheap and throw it away?

Thanks again for the great contribution to TLBG. Dont forget to pop back to the post and add your link at the bottom of the page so that we can all get to read it.
Emma & Rachel x