That cream cake is calling you, by name. ‘Eat me! Eat me! I’m delicious and creamy’. But you resist. You are ‘being good’. It’s the same with that expensive dress, those amazing shoes ….. no wonder we associate virtue with deprivation – we train ourselves to think we are ‘being good’ if we resist the yummy, lazy, expensive or luxurious things that our greedy little hearts sometimes cry out for. The result is that we then, probably subconsciously (but not always!), think of the word ‘should’ when it comes to ‘goodness’ and then we approach it with a slight dread and heaviness of heart.
So I believe it often is with ethical living. Most of us know that we shouldn’t drive our car two roads away to pick up a pint of milk, or use the tumble drier on a sunny day, or buy that cheap top from the high street (whilst turning a blind eye to the fact that you know deep down it has most likely been produced with slave labour or even child labour). But we WANT to and so we feel deprived if we don’t and guilty if we do.
I faced an ethical conundrum last weekend. As an ethical shopper there are certain brands I embrace and certain brands that I avoid. Myself, husband and boys went camping last weekend with two other families – all good friends who’ve known each other for years. The sun was shining and I could smell the wine waiting for me as I pumped up our double mattress airbed. And pumped. And pumped. It had a hole in, in fact several – thanks to a rat that had snacked on it in our garage. So looking forward to an uncomfortable night I told my friends who had a good laugh (as friends do). But then one of them uttered the temptation…… ‘There’s a 24 hour Tesco half a mile away and they sell airbeds’. Now Tesco is one of the brands I avoid so I faced some internal wrangling, but the long and the short of it was that my guilty conscience slept very well that night.
Be The Best Me You Can Be……
The issue I think is that we all want to eat the whole elephant in one go ….. (bear with me those of you who didn’t have this metaphor thrust at you in management training). The elephant looks huge – too big to contemplate eating – so we run away in fear and eat none of it, whereas if we had just taken lots of small bites over time we could have got it all down eventually. As a vegetarian I take issue with this metaphor but it does get the point across. Apologies to all elephants who may be reading this. The principle is the same for ex-smokers or dieters – if you lapse once does that mean you have to smoke 20 a day or head off to MacDonalds? No.
I am a great follower of the wise words of Mr Will.i.am (along with his Sesame Street cohorts) ‘I will always be the best me that I can be’. We all have different ideas of what ‘being good’ is and for the sake of our personal integrity we need to keep heading towards those goals. But sometimes, almost against our will, we make a pragmatic decision that doesn’t fit with our moral code. It’s not good but its ok and instead of feeling bad we need to keep going, keep being the best me you can be. Don’t run and hide from the big tasty elephant.
Being a Smug Shopper
Alice Fisher published a great article in last week’s Observer ‘How to look Good in Green: The Best Ethical Fashion’ in which she suggests that if you buy ethically you will feel smug. Smugness is a great antidote to feeling deprived – you have a great outfit AND you are a good person. Nothing wrong with a bit of smugness. The article points out that ethical fashion has moved on a long way from the hippy-like garments of the past and there are now plenty of stylish, quality options for men, women and children (I can recommend my favourites if you are interested…. Just ask!). Our own brand Where Does It Come From? is one of these – our goal is to create quality, funky clothes that are ethically and sustainably produced. All our clothes come with a code on the label to unlock their story so that you can find out how yours was made and who was involved. Pop over and visit our website www.wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk to find out more about us.
There are lots of small steps we can take to make the world a better place, from ethical buying choices to recycling. Check out this site http://www.worldchanging.me/ for great ideas to head you in the right direction (and make you feel smug too).