There’s a lot of talk at the moment about ethics. There are numerous ethical lent ‘fasts’, like the Methodist’s Buy Less Live More campaign and the Carbon Fast. I’m currently reading A Life Stripped Bare: My Life Trying to Live Ethically, which a friend lent me, and it is very good. Its about a normal man, who (with a deal with The Guardian) had ‘ethical auditors’ into his home who broke down his lifestyle and described how it was damaging the environment and other people around the world. Him and his wife then take on the challenging task of making their lifestyle ethical. And he wrote about it on the Guardian website before publishing this book.
The auditors really scrutinised everything. Going through his house with a fine tooth comb, criticising practically everything. And most of the time it wasn’t as simple as ‘you need to turn A into B’. The three auditors would have contrasting opinions about different standards of organics, fairtrade products which have air miles, and vegetarianism. Its complicated, and often controversial. There is one chapter in the book which discusses the ethics of having children. There were a number of public letters featured which states how unethical it is to have children. Putting an extra mouth to feed in this world. Putting an extra stress on the already-delicate eco-systems in this world. They stated it was much more ethical to adopt or foster. So far, that is the only section I’ve really had a strong disagreement with. Recycling , buying organic, locally produced food, composting waste, using washable nappies and cutting down on supermarket shops, I can perfectly agree with and accept. Not having children, simply because you don’t want to stretch the world’s resources any further, is a tad extreme. Maybe its just because I work with children, I see how precious their lives are, and outside of work, I get utter joy from spending time with them. It just seems completely obscure to even suggest their should be some sort of licencing system to have children, as the book mentioned. Surely we should make laws to encourage people to cut down on their waste and to minimise the amount of natural resources the average person uses, before we start doing as China has done, and restrict the number of children!
Another subject that this book has made me think about more, is waste disposal. The writer asks his local authority, if he can accompany his rubbish to his final resting place. He is utterly horrified at his experience, and after reading about it, I think it is a trip that most people should take. It makes you consciously think about what you’re throwing out and how it is contributing to the massive landfill sites. In particular, it made me think about the amount of waste I create in work. In my working area there are two bins, one of domestic waste and one for clinical waste. They both get emptied twice during every shift. And most of the time, especially the clinical one, they’re fairly full. That is four bags per shift, per patient. The clinical ones get burnt, and I’m not sure how that compares ethics wise to dumping the domestic waste in the landfill sites. But still, its a heck of a lot of waste. A lot of plastic. But due to infection control and patient safety, I can’t see any easy solution. I have to wear gloves and an apron most of the time when dealing with patients. And I do try to recycle the aprons – if I’ve not used it for much and then I need to walk away from the area (and you can’t walk around with your apron on), then I take it off and save it for when I come back, instead of throwing it away. But if you’ve been changing a babies nappy (or worse), then you really *can’t* use the same apron to do IVs. Its just one of the many examples where in terms of the environment, I seem to be acting unjustly, but I know I must do the best for my patient.
Anyway, for lent this year I’ve signed up for the daily Buy Less Live More emails. And I’m also generally trying to make a conscious effort to cut back on my supermarket spenditure and plastic bag culmination. I’ve found a local fruit and veg shop which is closer to and better than, my local supermarket. And today I got v.excited when I found an organic market in town, and was able to sample and buy local cheese, apples and cider. 🙂