Translating "Ethical" from Concept to Practice

As we mentioned yesterday [], “ethical” goes beyond green to encompass things like animal welfare, labor practices and waste, but how does that translate to real life? Sticking with more traditional concepts of what it means to be “green” can be difficult enough, but ethical doesn’t have to be much different, really. We’ll start by looking at some of the goals of going ethical.

TreeHugger Lloyd, our resident architect and green building expert, used architecture as an example, and summed it up nicely []: “Ethical design means that I can ooh and ahh over Leo Marmol’s house near Palm Springs [], and he can even call it green if he wants to, but ultimately he has to drive to it from Los Angeles, and its footprint, albeit smaller than it would have been in the hands of a less talented and concerned architect, is not small. Ethical Design means we have to weigh all of its footprints; the materials, the manufacturing, the land use, the water supply, the transportation, the size.
Ethical design means that a development like Vauban [], where people cooperate to develop a car-free, socially mixed community that looks at every aspect of how we live and what we consume, is the model. Splendid isolation in our new green energy-efficient home in the country is no longer good enough.”

Food choices, since we make them several times every day, have one of the biggest potential positive impacts on the world; in an ironic twist, because we do have to eat several times a day, it can be really hard to have all the necessary information to make an informed decision about all three meals, every day. For those who don’t want to have to do all the legwork (and let’s face it, who does?), here’s a cool concept []: a new shopping cart, being floated by Electronic Data Systems Corp, has a bar code scanner and screen that will give information about calories, nutrition, ethical sourcing and food miles, and keep a running total for you. Easy as (local, organic, ethically-sourced) pie.

Fashion, another high consumable, has also made huge strides in the ethical realm; there’s now even an entire fashion show in Paris [] dedicated to ethical fashion and nothing but. The “eco-fashion doesn’t have to look like a burlap sack” cliché is old and tired, but still applies to the burgeoning ethical fashion industry, where sheep have free range to roam in open pastures before being shorn, and organic cotton is harvested by workers paid a living wage. Getting the idea? Good. Here are some other handy tips you can use for learning about and/or sourcing ethical goods:

Bottled water []
The Observer’s Ethical Awards 2007 []
“The World’s Most Ethical Companies” []
Building an ethical home []