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What does ethical mean to you?

I actually hadn’t made up my mind what todays post would be about, but I was prompted by an instagram post on a site for eco friendly and ethical brides to be. Ethics is a really good topic though and what ‘ethical’ means to each of us may well be different.

If someone describes a product or business to me as ethical, I’d expect them to be environmentally friendly, to be honest, transparent in the information they give out, to do what they promise to do, to not use animal products and not test on animals (cruelty free), to be sustainable, use recycled materials, to source their products or materials from places that treat their workforce properly (no sweatshops/child labour/equal rights/fair pay/safe and healthy working conditions etc). There’s lots of other things you could add into this, e.g. organic, fairtrade, natural….

The post that made me think about this, was one promoting silk. Silk has long been coveted for it’s beautiful feel and the way it looks and drapes, but to me silk isn’t ethical. Silk is made by silkworms, (little caterpillars) that make a cocoon at the pupal stage and it’s the cocoon that’s unwoven to make silk thread. The problem is that for the silk moth to emerge it would have to eat it’s way out of the cocoon – like butterflies do, but that would damage the silk and so they are gassed or boiled alive before they emerge. Whilst insects may not be like us, they do have a pain response, so it’s not the same as harvesting a lettuce say. Child labour is often seen in the silk factories (small hands are nimble), there are also issues around dyeing and the discharge of toxic effluent by the textile industry. So I don’t think silk is ethical, natural, yes (in the sense that the material is) but not ethical. You can read more about silk production and its alternatives here if you’re interested.

Ethical, like other words such as ‘green’, ‘eco friendly’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘natural’ often seem to be bandied about and used interchangeably. I suspect it’s quite possibly because there is now a huge market for products sold as such.

What do ‘Ethical’, ‘Green’, ‘Eco Friendly’, ‘Sustainable’ and ‘Natural’ mean to you? Answers on the back of a postcard (or in the comments please) 🙂


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