Tag Archives: Ethics

Eating Ethically

I’ve recently increased the proportion of my diet which is organic.  Not because I’ve become more aware of the importance of eating organically, and the general improvement in the quality of organic food.  But because of my location.  I now live 10 minutes walk from an Organic Supermarket, and we have arranged for organic fruit and veg boxes to be delivered to our house from them, once a fortnight.  Our veg box is entirely British, so it is completely dependent on the seasons.  It has it’s advantages and disadvantages – it means that we have a constant supply of fruit and veg in, it encourages us to eat in tune with the seasons, and its all good quality stuff which I don’t have to drag up the hill inbetween shifts.  It also encourages us to eat stuff that we wouldn’t normally do so, but then if there are items in the boxes which we simply don’t like, then it’s a bit tricky.  You just have to find someone who does like them, and if that fails then you end up feeding it to the compost.  The other slight disadvangtage is that each fortnights veg box comes with potatos – something that we like, we’re just not in the habit of eating v.often.  About once a week or so, I’ll look into the potato drawer and say ‘right – we’re eating some potatos tonight!’  We could have got a potato free veg box, but we opted for the local, British one instead.

The other ethical food scheme that we’re trying out, is a milk jug system in Waitrose.  Basically you buy a special jug for a couple of quid, and then you buy sealed bags of milk.  The jug lid spikes a hole in the milk bag, when the bag is placed inside the jug, and then you can pour milk from the jug.  Simple.  Except Mr B set up the jug and I didn’t realise the milk had to stay in the bag, and tried to pour it out into the jug, and made a big mess…  It seems really good because it cuts down on packaging by 75% and it means you don’t end up with piles of plastic milk bottles which the council don’t collect, so they sit there until you get round to taking them to the bottle bank.  But, as I realised today when our milk ran out, every time we need milk, we’ll have to drive to Waitrose.  Which seems to contridict the point slightly.  I suppose I could cycle there… it’s just up a big hill.  Maybe if we buy a weeks worth of milk bags then we won’t have to make as many trips, and maybe we can call in there when we’re passing anyway.  I’m sure we’ll figure something out.


When is it right to say ‘enough is enough’ and stop medical treatment?  There is a line.  Somewhere.

I had a discussion with someone recently about this – she didn’t want to ‘play God’ by turning off the machines.  Which I completely understood and respected, but there are times when the person is never going to be alive without X and Y and Z machine.  So, is it fair?  Is it ethical?  In a way, as I pointed out in this discussion, by using these machines, we are already playing God.  These people would have died already, if it hadn’t been for the machines that we’ve invented.  Which of course, in many cases is a good thing, but there is a line which must be drawn at some point.  It is possible to keep a completely brain dead person ‘alive’ with machines.

These are all issues I have to quite frequently discuss, and therefore ponder upon.  But when suddenly they’re being discussed about a member of my own family, it’s completely different.  My Grandad was taken into hospital today.  And it doesn’t sound good.

Every brain cell in my head tells me that he’s had a very good life – he’s 89 and he’s certainly lived a fulfilled life.  If he deteriorates further, my medical knowledge knows that there isn’t any point in massively up scaling treatment.  But my heart is still hugely saddened at the thought.


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. 🙂

Internet Ethics

I was talking to a friend on the phone the other day, and as we were talking she was answering word questions on facebook and consequently donating rice for the developing world! I have since received and accepted an invitation for the same program and I had a go this afternoon. Most of the questions are fairly easy, so it is quite easy to build up grains of rice. But still, something about it doesn’t quite sit right with me. It seems odd to be sat at my laptop, playing games and consequently winning rice for people with practically nothing! I think it is just the contrast of cultures which is particularly apparent when playing the game. The way that it is a ‘game’ for us, and real life for them.

Another recent internet dilemma for me was the creation of an amazon wishlist. I hadn’t created one previously because it seemed too cheeky to publish ‘I’d like this, and this and this, ooh and this please’. But recently I was on the amazon site, amending my recommendations list – telling it which CDs and books I owned from the ones it was recommending me. I was pretty impressed with its ability to produce a comprehensive list of CDs and books that I would like – it was also quite bad because I discovered several good looking CDs I didn’t know existed! Thats good internet marketing for you! And marketing that I’ve bought into. In the end I decided to create the wishlist because it makes sense for friends / family to be able to see what you don’t already own and would like. But that doesn’t mean I’m expecting to magically receive all the things I’ve added to it – all of them I can live without, they’d be nice but they’re not critical. I’m not going to link it from here, but if you’re interested it should be searchable with my full name on amazon.co.uk.