We hear these words used a lot…ethical and sustainable, but is there a difference? And if there is, what is that difference?
The Collins dictionary provides the following definition for ethical:
‘if you describe something as ethical, you mean that it is morally right or morally acceptable’
Whilst it defines the word sustainable as:
‘the use of natural resources when this use is kept at a steady level that is not likely to damage the environment.’
So, put simply, the word ethical is more about people, how the products were made, how workers who made the products are treated and paid and their safety (no child labour, sweatshops, slavery or abuse). Sustainable is more about the planet, what are the effects of production on the environment? This can include use of pesticides, natural fabrics, dyes used in production, water and waste treatment and use of recycled materials. You can be ethical but not sustainable, for example you might source fair trade goods where workers are paid fairly and work in good conditions, but they use dyes which are harmful to the environment and are then pumped into the local water system, they then wrap the products in plastic. Likewise, you can be sustainable producing goods from organic materials, wrapping them in recycled paper but workers are paid below minimum wage and work in terrible conditions. In a world where doing the right thing can feel difficult, and there are so many voices trying to tell us what is best to do, it can feel quite noisy.
After watching the recent David Attenborough documentary, it feels more urgent than ever that we work to rewild our world. Robert Swan is quoted as saying ‘The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.’ I believe that if we all act more consciously in our decisions we can effect change both to the planet and to individuals and communities lives. We have seen in recent months how a global pandemic can unite us across the globe, surely we can use this strength and sense of community which has grown throughout this difficult time for good? Let’s foster and nurture this desire for a better world for both people and the planet.
As a brand I am constantly striving to work as sustainably and ethically as possible, and would like to share some other shops and brands below who have at their heart, values which encompass all I have talked about so I would urge you to have a browse of their websites and think carefully about where you choose to spend your money.
Lal and Nil is a UK based baby brand who produce their products using organic cotton, sustainable jute and rattan, and they are ethically made in Bangladesh.
Naitika is an online clothing and accessory shop which has at its heart a genuine belief that the people who produce our clothing should not only be paid fairly but also treated fairly.
Blue Ticking breathe new life into vintage children's furniture. They reclaim furniture sourced from antique markets across Europe.
The little natural co, an award winning baby and toddler concept store specialising in beautiful ethical, natural and organic products.
Sister and Kin - ethical fashion pieces for women who believe in supporting other women.
It won't cost the earth - sustainable gifting supporting small businesses across the UK.
People Tree - Ethical and sustainable fashion that's good for people and the planet.
With my love and very best wishes