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Ethical and ecological audit

Page history last edited by Yvonne 11 years, 6 months ago

A checklist of all the lifestyle choices that could have ethical and environmental implications


Step 1 - take the ecological footprint test and/or the carbon footprint test (more detailed, and comes with recommendations for improvements)

Step 2 - audit your lifestyle





 Area  Issues  Solutions
Cleaning products
  • Many cleaning products contain chemicals which are harmful to the environment and to animals, birds, and fish
  • Washing your car swills harmful chemicals into rivers
Furniture and textiles
  • Was the producer of the furniture fairly paid for their work?  (is it Fair Trade?) 
  • Was it made from a renewable resource?
  • If the fabric is made from plant fibre, was the plant grown organically?


  • Anything you throw away will end up in a landfill site, emitting methane into the atmosphere
  • Many materials are from non-renewable resources (e.g. metal & plastic)


  • Think before you throw it away. 
  • Can it be recycled? 
  • Could you give it to a charity shop / thrift store / goodwill store? 
Energy use
  • Is your electricity coming from a sustainable source?
  • Have you considered solar panels?
  • What about wind power?
  • Switch to a green energy supplier
  • Don't leave electrical items on standby
  • When boiling the kettle, only put in as much water as you need (this makes the tea taste better too!)
  • You can get grants to switch to solar panels
  • Gas is extracted from the Earth and is a non-renewable resource. 
  • Electricity is frequently generated from nuclear energy (and 25% of the power is lost in transmission through the National Grid) or from coal-fired power-stations, another non-renewable resource.


  • Consider using a wood-burning stove (it's carbon-neutral)
  • If you have central heating, turn your thermostat down a few degrees and put a jumper on instead


  • No point having green energy if it escapes out of the roof. 
  • Is your loft insulated? 
  • Is the insulation material non-polluting and from a sustainable source?
  • Do you have double-glazing?


  • Glass, plastic, clothing and textiles, paper and metal can all be recycled
  • Sort your waste 
  • Don't buy items with packaging which cannot be recycled
  • Uses electricity
  • External lighting can cause light pollution and disturb animals
  • Use energy-saving lightbulbs
  • Don't leave lights on
  • If you have an external security light, make sure it is only triggered by a sensor, not left on all the time







Area Issues Solutions
Clothing & shoes
  • Was the producer of the clothing fairly paid for their work?  (is it Fair Trade?) 
  • Was it made from a renewable resource?
  • If made of leather, was the animal humanely treated?
  • Was the producer of the jewellery fairly paid for their work?  (is it Fair Trade?) 
  • If it contains gemstones, were they strip-mined?
  • Look for the fair-trade label
  • Check that the gemstones were not strip-mined
Personal hygiene products
  • Was it tested on animals?
  • Will it pollute the environment?
  • Buy only from ethical suppliers
  • Look for the mark  "Not tested on animals" or "Against animal testing"
  • Is it fair trade / organic / sustainable?
  • Make your own gifts and cards
  • Send e-cards
  • Buy someone membership of an organisation, or shares in a forest project
  • Buy gifts from charitable organisations
All products
  • Was the producer of the product paid at all for their work?
  • Check your slavery footprint
  • Write to the companies from which you buy things to make sure there is no slavery in their supply lines



Food and drink



Area Issues Solution
Meat, eggs and dairy
  • Factory farming
  • Antibiotics in the animal's diet can kill the flora and fauna in your gut which you need to digest your food properly
  • Buy from your local farmer's market
  • Buy organic and free-range
Vegetables and fruit
  • Air miles - how far was the item transported?  (causing pollution and carbon emissions)
  • Only buy local produce when it's in season
  • Get your fruit and veg delivered in a box
Bottled drinks
  • Plastic and glass bottles accumulating in landfill sites
  • Plastic is made from oil (a non-renewable resource)
  • How far has the water or other drink been transported?
  • Is it drawn from underground aquifers, which can cause land collapses
  • Buy Thirsty Planet water, which supports Pump Aid
  • Filter your tap water
  • Reuse and recycle plastic and glass bottles
  • Sustainability - the fish species may be endangered
Genetically modified foods
  • Allowing one company to own genetic material
  • Decreasing biodiversity
  • Cross-breeding of GM crops with wild plants
  • Lack of consumer choice
  • Once farmers have bought GM seeds, they are stuck with them
  • Unpredictable effects on the enviroment
  • more details


  • Campaign against GM crops
  • Look at the GM foods checklist to avoid buying food with GM ingredients


Pesticides in food
  • About half of all UK fruit and vegetables contain pesticide residues
  • Some of these can bio-accumulate in our bodies or harm our hormone systems. They also pollute drinking water; removing pesticides costs the UK £120m a year
  • Buy organic vegetables & fruit (from a farmers' market or a box scheme)
  • Putting it in the bin means that it ends up in a landfill site






Area Issues Solution
Driving to work
  • Pollution & carbon emissions
  • Pollution & carbon emissions
  • Do something to offset the carbon emissions - e.g. tree planting
  • Go by train (if possible)
Going by ship
  • Pollution & carbon emissions
  • Noise of propellors prevents long-distance communication by whales
  • Sail




Further reading


  • Pagan and Plain? by Sarah Sutterfield Winn (this article was the inspiration for this page)


Useful links




Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 5:03 pm on Mar 13, 2007

We scored about 50% on this audit, but we're aiming to improve on that. Also last time I checked, my ecological footprint was 3.3 hectares (which would immediately drop to the required 1.8 hectares if I stopped driving to work).

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