Ethical Reflection: Part One

Though always part of my peripheral vision, ethical living hasn’t been as fully investigated as I’d like, so I’m spending a few days… or  weeks… evaluating.

There are some general lifestyle things that I definitely know I’m doing right:


We joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm.  It’s local and organic.

Other Food Purchases

We basically shop the outer edges of the grocery store.  The only “processed” food we buy is breakfast cereal. I use my reusable shopping bags 90% of the time.  (I’ll talk about the other 10% in the section “Things I’m not doing right.”)  We buy from local, Fair Trade or organic suppliers whenever possible.  We purchase no beef and almost no other meat.  My daughters are vegetarian, and I’m vegan.  My husband eats poultry or fish about once a week at our house.  Those products are always free range/organic.


I started composting last summer, but am now really getting the hang of it.  Almost no food ends up in our trash (or a landfill).  We recycle everything that our municipality allows.  In an average week, we throw out about 3 white trashbags of stuff.  If we had a better recycling program in our neighborhood, we could cut it down to less than  one, I’m sure.  This said, we know of people who do better.  They actually save everything that can be recycled and drop it off at other recycling centers when they go out of town.  This might take more patience than I have and might demand that we travel more than I’d like.

Energy/Resource Efficiency

We have low-flow showerheads, a front load washer, other Energy Star appliances (please note, however, that the Energy Star rating system is not the greatest) and energy efficient lightbulbs.  Every winter we put plastic on our windows to cut down on our heating.  It really works!  But we have issues.  See # 2 and #7 below.


The last 2 pairs of shoes I’ve purchased have been Toms.  For every pair you buy, they provide a pair to a child who doesn’t have any.  As for clothing, I spend so little money on clothes, it might be embarrassing.  My older daughter is a fan of Plato’s Closet, a teen-oriented second-hand store, and Goodwill.

Eating Out

On average, we probably eat out once a month.  When we do, we only patronize local restaurants.  Most of them work really hard to use local growers/farmers.  We have sworn off chain restaurants.

Things that are not so good…

1. I almost never hang my laundry out to dry (at least not literally).  I plan to get a clothesline tomorrow.

2. My air conditioning occasionally gets turned on.  It was turned on for 24 hours over the weekend.  And though I set the thermostat to 80 (the house was up to 85), it’s still using electricity, burning dirty coal. This is not good. ( I know that you’re thinking I’m nuts.)

3. I drive my car to work.  The bus schedule would work for me to get to work, but not to return home at the right time. My daughter has been begging us to move downtown.  This would mean that I could walk or ride my bike. That would be great.  The conundrum is that we love our neighborhood and selling a house seems really drastic.

4. I do sometimes shop at box stores (though never Walmart).  I shop at Target, which has also been embroiled in sweatshop/child labor issues.  I’d really like to shop more local businesses.

5. I know we could do better with charitable giving.  We only give about 2.5% of our annual income to charity.

6. When I’m not using my reusable shopping bags, it’s typically because we run out of grocery store plastic bags which we use to line our bathroom garbage cans and to pick up doggie doo-doo.  It’s always been a money-saving strategy for me. I’m not sure that buying plastic bags is better than getting them for free at the grocery store.  Still, I’m using and throwing away plastic bags.

7. We bought a small fridge for our garage.  The primary reason was because the produce we’re getting every week from our CSA won’t fit into our regular fridge (oh, the irony).  The secondary reason is that during the holidays or any other time I’m hosting a gathering, I have no room for all the food.  The third reason is my husband’s beer.  Still, we have two refrigerators.  I’ll see how much higher my electric bill is next month.

So, this is my overview of what I can easily see.  I’ll be picking these apart and sharing ethical dilemmas as they come up….

I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts on this stuff!!!


4 responses to this post.

  1. I think you’re doing an excellent job and the more that you’re doing to share this knowledge with your children, the better. In our community, our electric utility has some excellent programs to help us make our homes more energy efficient and you might want to check that out. We’re able to get a home energy audit for $99 and get up to $200 in rebates on duct work, etc…


  2. Tammy, good to hear from you! The energy audit is a great idea. The rebates are a good incentive. I’ll see what ours offers. Deregulation is coming here soon. The rising costs might be a good motivator for all of us.


  3. Posted by Kim Mallett on June 21, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Wow Lori, you are doing an amazing job! We are getting an energy audit this week and are hoping we can find additional ways to improve our energy efficiency (e.g. flash water heater, etc.). As far as the plastic bags for doggie doo go, we buy some that are biodegradable. I always feel a little better knowing they won’t stay in the landfill forever. Hope that helps!


    • The energy audit’s on my list, too. We’ll have to compare notes. I’d love to get a tankless water heater. Friends of our had solar panels installed…. How great that would be! Thanks for the doggie bag tip!


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