What is ethical living?


“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

What are ethics?

Ethics are the moral principles governing how we behave. Making ethical choices means acting for the greater good of individuals, humanity, and the planet.

Why should we care about ethics?

“You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.”

 Ziad K. Abdelnour

There is a serious need for a global shift towards ethical living. As a result of our behaviour as a species, the Earth is experiencing deforestation, pollution, desertification, rising sea levels, resource depletion, and mass-extinction. If we want to prevent ecological crisis and the catastrophic collapse of our systems, we need to recognise that everything we do has an impact. Luckily, as consumers, we have enormous potential to make a positive difference with each of our daily choices.

By living more ethically we can help to create a fairer society, combatting issues like animal rights, social justice, slavery, and war. Aligning our actions with our morals may also have personal health benefits, such as boosting serotonin levels, easing anxiety, reducing stress, and increasing longevity.

What does ethical living look like?

Ethical living is about making considered choices; thinking through our decisions, working out the right action, and then taking it. In our busy and stressful modern lives, we tend to function on autopilot, guided by our habits and impulses without realising their consequences.

We all make unethical choices from time to time, but by striving to become more conscious of our actions and their effects, we can learn from our mistakes, gain wisdom, and make better decisions in the future.

How can I live more ethically?

Here are 10 quick ideas to get you started on your ethical journey:

  1. Take the 30 Day Vegan Challenge
  2. Try the Zero Waste Week
  3. Switch from standard to eco-friendly or homemade cleaning products
  4. Buy local, organic, and fair-trade plant foods (and, if you can, grow your own!)
  5. Choose cruelty-free and natural beauty products (or get creative and make your own!)
  6. If you’re a woman, try using a menstrual cup rather than synthetic tampons or pads
  7. Buy recycled and FCS certified paper, notepads, toilet rolls
  8. Take the no new clothes pledge 
  9. Buy only second-hand or ethically made jewelry and accessories
  10. Take the time to do a moral inventory and consider the impact of all your actions


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Coauthored with Kim Coley, managing director of the not-for-profit wellbeing centre Soul Happy.


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