Advanced search

To feel completely and utterly frustrated about trying to live as ethically as possible.

(20 Posts)
Libertybazar Mon 12-Sep-16 18:17:23

Over the last 6 months I made changes around our household to make our habits more ethical and sustainable. We were already pretty good already, but this was a definite shift.
I started buying up half price stock at the farm shop, started composting, started cutting out more dairy than we normally do (we're vegetarian anyway), bought compostable toothbrushes, floss, natural bulk soap and shampoo. Reduced single use items significantly and reduced the products we use around the house. Loads and loads of really positive stuff. I also donated a large amount of stuff that was rarely used (we had 7 cheese graters shock ) to local charities, animal shelters etc. It felt fantastic and made some personal realisations about the things we own and how I would like to live my life. I know it sounds a bit out there, but I really feel like it's been a pivotal year for me.

However, I'm slowly starting to feel like many of the positive changes are for bloody nothing!!

I can't buy everything I want in one place. As much as I would love to buy everything from the farm shop, they don't have everything we need and we simply can't afford it. Im going to sainsburys for bulk peanut butter, waitrose for butter in paper, lidl for loose nuts, tesco for their dried fruit and snacks. When I buy fruit and veg from supermarkets I'm always torn between buying organic (more expensive and in plastic) or buying loose (which is limited in variety and often more expensive than buying multipacks angry ). Then I get the thermal paper receipts and the stickers.

I recently bought a huge multi back of Eco leaf toilet roll, but when it arrived, the bloody thing was wrapped in a huge amount of plastic in addition to the compostable eco leaf packaging.

I've been trying to only buy clothes from ethical suppliers or second hand, but when it came to buying ds's school uniform there were very limited options and they were all very very expensive. There were no ethical options that I could find for school shoes.

DH is totally unsupportive. He really couldn't give a rats ass and finds all the changes really annoying and resists everything, even though most of the changes (with regards to products etc ) he is happy with. He will go shopping and come back with reams of junk food covered in packaging. He thinks we should buy the cheapest of everything. It is driving me bananas and I feel like I'm driving him bananas too even though this is something I feel passionately about.

I feel like I need to step back and reprioritise, but I don't know where to start.

Please help! Tell me where you draw the line, what you won't compromise on etc etc. Also, kindly tell me to chill the hell out! I'm very aware I sound like a lunatic!

penguinpurple Wed 14-Sep-16 22:36:39

Well done for all you've achieved, must be really frustrating when your dh is not really on board. Have you discussed why you're doing all this? Is he generally into recycling etc but just thinks you're taking it too far or does he just not care at all? Maybe he is craving junk food or some of his old treats as it feels like forbidden fruit? Is he worried about money or just would rather not spend it if he doesn't think it's necessary?
Whilst I really admire what you're doing I think maybe it is worth taking a bit of a step back as it seems to be causing more stress than it's worth both between you and dh and when you feel thwarted by supermarkets putting stuff in plastic etc.

penguinpurple Wed 14-Sep-16 22:54:17

I personally draw the line at trailing round multiple different supermarkets every week for all the different stuff. We don't have a car and I'm not willing to use up that much time. In your case I'd probably try to go to a different supermarket each time I needed to go and stock up on all the things that particular shop has while I'm there anyway but try not to sweat it if you forget or occasionally have to get a less ideal option. It really annoys me when fruit and veg etc come wrapped in plastic and I always try to avoid it but wouldn't go as far as not buying something I needed because there is no plastic free option. In general I'd say I draw the line if something is going to cause me significant hassle.
My dh has similar views to me but we've just been with my mum for the last couple of weeks and she is lovely but wants to treat dd especially all the time but even wanted to buy me more new clothes for my birthday that I just don't need. I try and nudge her away from buying loads of asda clothes that dd does notneed but feel a bit of a snob for preferring 'nice' more ethical brands that obviously cost more, although I would ultimately prefer she bought second hand which is much cheaper. Mostly I smile and say thank you and try to use everything and pass on to charity shop.

WooWoo1000 Sun 18-Sep-16 19:37:27

Wow, I think it's fantastic that you're trying so hard to reduce resource use and waste. I too wish there weren't so many barriers in the way and that industry would do more given that (as you have demonstrated) it's incredibly hard for one person to make an impact. Tesco send me a free 'baby pack' the other day - large shoebox size carton containing a few products and loads more cardboard to hold products in place. Likewise Halifax sent us a 'moving in pack' a few years ago...came in weird canvas box that has very limited use, so I expect most people bin it rather than re-use.

I found a load of old fountain pen cartridges in a drawer the other day that I'll never use and I thought I wish recycling centres would have a kind of big warehouse where people could bring all things like that and then when others need them they could pop along and have them for free...imagine how many surplus screws, nails, paper clips, staples etc are hiding in garages and offices that could be used and reduce the number of new that need to be made.

Diglass Thu 22-Sep-16 22:39:58

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

topcat2014 Thu 22-Sep-16 22:46:35

I am not judging - but I would probably be with your DH. Life is hard, no need to make it impossible.

Also - be mindful of the curse of 'orthorexia' whereby people are making themselves ill whilst at the same time feeling they are eating more and more 'cleanly'.

I would go with the 80/20 rule. You can probably gain 80% of the benefits to the world by concentrating on the largest 20% of your purchases by spend.

A few extra till receipts are really not going to matter - honestly.

JayneW63 Fri 10-Feb-17 17:07:09


I take my hat off to you, I went chemical free last year, along with my Mum, sister and niece. and people think I'm nuts not using bleach, sprays, shower gels and whatevers.
Every thing in the house barr my knickers ( you have to draw a lie some where) is second hand and I try to eat seasonal food.
it's not easy, and my kids are all off my hands.

So keep going, get a good book on foraging, google ENJO (honest it's brill)

specialsubject Wed 15-Feb-17 09:50:18

Ah, another enjo fan? Hilariously expensive scraps of artificial fibre. White vinegar is a lot cheaper and cleans well.

If you went chemical free you would be dead in three days from lack of dihydrogdn monoxide.

ExitStage Wed 15-Feb-17 10:01:31

A little bit of a different approach, but have you got an allotment or veg patch? No packaging and you have complete control over the growing environment.

NotCitrus Wed 15-Feb-17 10:04:14

There's no one answer to "what is more ethical ". Even what is more environmentally friendly is a minefield - eg going vegan feels more ethical to some people but usually involves eating lots of protein and products produced a long way away and transported here, generally unseasonably and without the worker protections we have here.
If you thing about what you want the outcomes to be - reduce global warming? Improved communities for your children growing up? then thinking about where to target your energy and then just focusing on your part can help keep sanity - eg if you want less traffic locally so children can walk to school more safely, lobby for that and for supermarkets to better provide for pedestrians and cyclists. And watch out for companies trying to sell stuff claiming it's environmentally-friendly - bloody sack bags and cloth bags are my bugbear, take lots of energy to make and aren't waterproof. Sometimes the 10p plastic carrier is the ethical environmental option.

Often convincing more people or bigger organisations to make small changes (say all of your family) is more effective than indivisuals aspiring to an impossible "perfect". People have an impact on the planet, yes, but the alternative would be for all humans to commit mass suicide - which would have its own problems!

JayneW63 Wed 15-Feb-17 10:50:14

It's an incredibly difficult area, I used to make my own soap, felt incredibly good about myself. But the issues with palm oil, bugged me. Back in the day when my kids were little cloth verses disposable nappies was a big discussion, was it better to throw away or use waste amounts on boiling water and detergents to clean the reusable ones.

Wood burners, so popular we now have smog problems.

I've been trying to do the best I can for a while and while I don't think I have found the one true way at all, I'll stick to using my ENJO, I know where it comes from , I know there are no issues with the conditions the workers who make it work in, I know I've reduced packaging coming into the house, the amount of water I use in cleaning has dropped, my skin is better than it's ever been, the house is cleaner than when I used vinegar and bicarb, or made my own washing powder. None of my choices are to do with cost, just a careful decision on what I think makes an ethical choice.

shovetheholly Thu 02-Mar-17 14:53:38

You sound like you're doing the best you can, and that's a huge deal! You deserve congratulations and a round of applause for all the changes, not more strictures!

I think that there is no point trying to be perfect if the pursuit of perfection means you give up altogether. In modern life, being ethical is always a matter of compromises - none of us can live outside of capitalism and every choice we make to consume anything has a negative impact. Sometimes, all you can do is give it your best effort.

In terms of the supermarkets, I feel your pain. I'm lucky in that I have an Aldi and a Sainos just opposite each other within walking distance, and I can pick up most of the things I need from those. I grow a lot of my own food on my allotment, so I tend to need bits and pieces here and there (more during the winter). However, I've found that it's indispensible for me also to nip into other supermarkets as and when I'm passing. I try to keep a list on my phone to remind me, as otherwise I forget what I need.

seventhgonickname Sun 09-Jul-17 13:15:26

Celebrate your successes rather than worry about thing you have no control over.You will do far more for the environment by being a good role model for your kids who will take it forward than any harm you do with their school uniforms.
With your DH,if he won't help then don't lecture or comment just quietly carry one,he may not change totally but it sounds as if he is kicking back ATM.

Littleoakhorn Tue 11-Jul-17 09:00:24

The suggestion up thread to alternate which supermarket you go to each week and stock up on the particular thing you buy there is a really good idea.

megletthesecond Tue 11-Jul-17 09:11:28

litte yy, I'm lucky to have enough cupboard space to stock up every week or two. I don't like to use the car to go to lidl every week so buy huge amounts of dry goods when we're passing.

Packaging is my bug bear. Our town finally has a recycling skip for plastic cartons which has reduced my landfill bin a bit. And I've got an allotment and try to meal plan around that in the summer months. We do food metres not food miles <<bit smug >>

Baalam Tue 11-Jul-17 09:16:24

80 20 is a good plan. I buy my fruit and veg from the market. No packaging and cheaper. I couldn't afford to live like you sadly. I think if you avoid processed food as much as you can and recycle like mad, be really frugal with electricity etc then you are doing OK. Worrying about till receipts is a bit much.

Could you channel your frustration into a small veg patch or some hens!

thedevilinablackdress Sun 16-Jul-17 11:15:26

Ethical living is a goal, perfection impossible in our current society and commercial set up. Do what you can. Have a read of this too

ememem84 Sun 16-Jul-17 11:30:27

I'm/we're trying to reduce our waste this year. Food waste were pretty good at but I agree the packaging is a nightmare.

Also trying to save money. Have gone down the 80/20 route. Donas much as we can but not sweat it if we have to buy plastic etc.

I'm trying to go plastic free as much as possible. Not getting rid of anything we already have and draw the line at present at using natural cosmetics and shampoos (mostly because I can't find cheap versions and have a massive hoard already).

We have a ton of takeaway boxes so am using those for lunches freezer storage etc.

Our milk comes in recyclable cartons, and we have switched to buying big pots of yoghurt rather than individual serving ones. Mostly from local dairy so these are recyclable too.

I'm toying with the idea of reusable nappies for when ds arrives in September but may go for a mix of both disposable and reusable. First baby so no idea about any of it really.

Same with reuseable sanitary towels. I may get a couple just to see how I get on before fully committing.

I don't use cotton wool or Face wipes any more as bought microfibre cloth wipes and just use and wash. Exception being when travelling. Pack of wipes is much easier.

michelle303 Wed 26-Jul-17 11:31:16

I really relate to your situation here and it does feel futile at times, especially if there are others around you who aren't fully on board! The changes do make a difference, and it's easy to be too hard on yourself when every single element of your life isn't as ethical as you'd like. Just see it as a journey - you may have to settle for other products now until you find something that you can realistically use.

user1499506460 Thu 10-Aug-17 16:23:15

It is very difficult not to get down when trying to live this way as it seems commerce is against you, so I sympathise completely! I tend to tweet and facebook companies and supermarkets a lot to complain (when I have the time!) When I go shopping I always seem to have a bag full of unnecessary packaging which I take back and put in the bag recycling. I feel as if I am being judged as a weirdo when I am actually trying to do good, but hey, it's lonely up the front and I know that actually, though we may be few, there are lots of lovely people like yourself out there too xx

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: