Ethics in Sustainability
You have probably noticed that many of the brands represented in our brand directory advocate for transparent and ethical production. And whereas it sounds really nice, and ethical approach to manufacturing is for sure a nice PR-catch, it is also a crucial condition for whether we classify an item or a brand as sustainable.
We keep exploiting
In our editorial, the word ”Dominion” has, up until now, mostly been used in connection with the Australian documentary that we helped to screen during Bali Vegan Festival last year. But it's time to look at how we keep exploiting not only animals but our planet and its underprivileged inhabitants too.
We hope that it does not come as a surprise that... Slavery is just not sustainable. And modern slavery is, sadly, a thing (this article from The Guardian is a must-read, it explained the ugly truth showing that one in 200 people is a slave!). Whether ”the slave” is another human being or (more broadly speaking) our planet, the pattern is the same. We dominate, we impose, we rule, we exploit.
Children's tales sometimes mention ”a good, clever king, who rules the country wisely, securing prosperity”. We (as humanity) are not THAT king. We are acting more like a frustrated dictator who projects their insecurities on others and needs to keep ”an iron hand” on everything around them to feel in power.
This might seem like a long and winding introduction, but what we are trying to say is that sustainable development roots in our will to collaborate and ”share the power”. We will never achieve balance with a mindset of dominion. So that's our base - the point of departure and the first area where we need to pivot.
”Excuse me, I ordered the free flow”
You can say that during a champagne brunch (by the way, did you know that we, WOMB girls, met over a free-flow champagne brunch on Easter Sunday?), but this doesn't really work when you speak about resources on this planet. Much of the current production, transportation, and distribution relies on non-renewable resources (to learn more about what those are, have a read on NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC), and it doesn't take much to figure out that if something is non-renewable, it has an end-date. If something has an end-date, it can't be sustainable, as sustainability is all about circularity.
”Cradle to cradle” as opposed to ”cradle to grave”.
But what does this have to do with ethics, you may ask? We kind of go back to point one, because exploitation is a non-renewable resource. There are only as many acres of the rainforest we can cut down. There are only as many square kilometers of land that we can pollute and use as our landfills. There are only as many underprivileged women that can be forced into horrible working conditions for a minimal wedge. At some point, our planet, the people will ”finish up”, and what will we do then? Unethically obtained resources are, per definition, finite.
Vote with your dollar
We've said it before, we will say it again. You have the power. You as a consumer have the power over businesses, over governments. You have the power to help and elevate ethical businesses, you have the power to disempower those who exploit others.
But to do that, we must educate ourselves. Only an educated consumer can be a conscious consumer and, sadly, businesses do a lot to hide the unethical side of their endeavors. There is a lot of green-washing, and sure, no business is perfect, but the more we educate ourselves, the better that chances for us to pierce through the green-washing.
As a further eye-opener, we recommend you check out the video attached to this post. We stumbled upon it quite recently, and whereas we were aware of the questionable/unethical origin of some of the products (eg. we have previously touched upon the unethical sourcing of cocoa, sharing this article by The Washington Post and we have discussed the issues raising around possessing and reselling of Palo Santo since the wood ”went mainstream” in Western spiritual communities), others came as a surprise!
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It is impossible to neatly wind down this post. We don't really want to do it either. This entry is supposed to serve as a discussion opener, a fire-starter. As ”sustainable” a consumer as you may think you are, are you an ethical consumer too? Are you thinking of how your reusable straw made of rubber or nickel was produced? Where the cocoa for your vegan chocolate bar comes from? Maybe the vegan snack was made free of animal cruelty, but was any human cruelty involved?
We know, it's impossible to be ”perfect” in this regard. Production will, in one way or the other, always hurt someone (that ”someone” can simply be planet earth). But the more you know, the more educated your choices are, and maybe it's just a matter of small adjustments for you, which, on the other end of the spectrum will mean a world to someone else.
Buying an ethically produced piece of garment, instead of visiting a chain store, you can support and empower a woman in a third world country.
Choosing a vegan cafe for your daily coffee, you give money to an enterprise that doesn't support animal cruelty (like some).
Going to an eco-beauty salon instead of a conventional one, you make sure that the cosmetics used don't contain chemicals harmful to you and the environment.
But first of all, not buying if you really do not need to - that’s the way to go.