Sample Public Administration Paper on Ethical Lifestyle

Ethical Lifestyle

In one of his famous quotes, Harvey Mackay stated “Ethical decisions ensure that everyone’s best interests are protected.” The quote is especially true in reference to living ethically and the current clamor for sustainability on companies as a means of environmental protection. Global warming and climate change are sure phenomena right now. The melting of ice at the Antarctic, rising global temperatures and increase in desert areas across the world are sure cause of worry for mankind. Companies, non-governmental organization and environment conservation groups are hard at work hoping to slow the rising global temperatures, even as companies initiate and work towards the sustainability of their businesses. As companies work on sustainable practices, however, the focus has now shifted to consumers. Over the years, companies have done more and continue to do more in embedding responsible and sustainable practices within their supply chain and production (Marsh, 2013). As the users of end products, however, consumers are now the focus, with more pressure on adoption of ethical lifestyles as a way of contributing towards environmental protection and healthy lifestyles.

While there is no universally accepted definition of an ethical lifestyle/ethical living, the term refers to the philosophy through which one makes lifestyle decisions that are considerate to the moral and ethical values within the society, in addition to environmental sustainability and animal welfare. Additionally, ethical living refers to making changes within an individual’s lifestyle, whose impact are positive to both the environment and people around the individual (Hickman, 2014). Important to note is that much as there is no universal definition of ethical living/lifestyle, there is additionally no universal view of what exactly constitutes an ethical lifestyle. The decision and view of an ethical lifestyle largely hinges on an individual’s unique circumstances and not a prescribed criterion (Hickman, 2014).

The current wave of ethical living is essentially an individual program rather than an organized social movement. Ethical living has roots in sustainable living, that involves making initial small lifestyle changes as a way of limiting the individual’s lifestyle choices and impact on the environment (Hickman, 2014). The idea of ethical living is to contribute in the very subtle ways towards environmental sustainability, relieving pressure on natural resources, while at the same time using the available resources in such a way that will ensure their longevity.

Most of the clamor for sustainability and ethics have largely been on organizations, particularly in the manufacturing industry (Brimmer, 2007). However, the importance of sustainability and ethics transcends manufacturing businesses to the consumers. An ethical lifestyle is especially important given toll different industries have on the environment. It is only prudent, therefore, for consumers to also become champions of environmental suitability through sustainable and ethical shopping.

To understand consumers’ impact, and therefore their role in sustainability, a recent report indicates that it takes 2,700 liters of water to make a single cotton shirt. This is even as consumers today buy 60 percent more clothing than before, while keeping them half as long as was the case in the past (Chua, 2016). Thanks to fast fashion and the drop in cloth prices, people are buying more clothes than they need. The situation has made cloth manufacture only second to the oil industry in environmental pollution (Chua, 2016). Such grim statistics therefore call for consumer action towards sustainability. Ethical lifestyle, where consumers buy only the clothes that they need has the ability of pushing for more sustainable business practices, while at the same time saving the environment from pollution and degradation.

The fact that the recent report paints a grim picture on cloth manufacture is even the more reason for ethical living. Ethical living/lifestyle is especially instrumental in reducing consumption (Marsh, 2013). Through an interrogation of one’s consumption, as well as through collaboration with companies, it is possible to find ways of reducing consumption, encouraging recycling and reuse of products and wastes from the products working towards reducing organizational and individual carbon footprint, while at the same time contributing towards environmental sustainability.

Aside from encouraging environmental sustainability, ethical living goes beyond just being a fad to encouraging positive change within the society. When an individual, particularly a prominent one, starts ethical living, the impact of his/her actions may well be experienced in the society through a huge following. Consumers’ demand for ethical products have been instrumental in changing how companies deal with their workers, design of their products and the manufacturing process of the products to more sustainable processes (Marsh, 2013). Similarly, individual of great influence in the society have the potential of encouraging others to take up ethical living. It is the same logic and psychology that Coca-Cola Enterprises is using to encourage recycling of its bottles. Peer-to-peer group influence, where individuals recycle and engage in ethical living because people around them are doing so is one of the strategies used by Coca-Cola Enterprises to encourage recycling, as it is the same logic that is executable amongst individuals to take up ethical lifestyles (Marsh, 2013).

Given the importance of ethical living/lifestyle, how then can one live an ethical life? The first step towards ethical living is a lifestyle audit. A lifestyle audit helps put into perspective an individual’s life choices and the impact of the choices on the environment (Hickman, 2014). Additionally, the audit helps in laying out the key areas the individual needs to make changes and the kind of changes the individual can make and still be able to function optimally. A lifestyle audit, more than anything, helps in averting the risk of “biting more than one can chew,” which eventually derails the path towards an ethical lifestyle. Through the audit, one picks the wars he/she can win as an individual, while at the same time setting up plans to influence others with his/her circle to take up ethical living.

Another way of ethical living is minimizing on spending, particularly on clothing. Adopting a capsule wardrobe ensures that you only have the necessary items in your wardrobe for all seasons and occasions. Additionally, buying products from fair trade organizations also ensures that you not only contribute to fair trade businesses, but also reduce individual carbon footprint (Marsh, 2013). Additionally, donating items that one does not need to charities instead of throwing them away goes a long way in ethical living. Donating means that it not only helps a less fortunate individual, but also reduces the risk of the items finding their way into dump sites, contributing to environmental degradation.

Energy saving is yet another way of adopting an ethical lifestyle. Energy saving does not necessarily mean living without appliances but buying white goods with energy saving features/Energy Saving Trust approval goes a long way in contributing towards environmental sustainability. Energy saving appliances reduce the impact on the environment in addition to rewarding through less spending on energy.

Reducing on packaging waste is another way of ethical living. By eating seasonal fruits and vegetables and buying from locals, one reduces emissions from travelling far to buy food as well as reduce on packaging waste (Hickman, 2014). Moreover, buying from locals ensures that local farmers have the funds to drive their enterprises.

While the oil industry is the biggest polluter of the environment, the use of fossil fuel in vehicles, and power generation among others rank high in carbon emission. Where possible, investing in electric vehicles ensures that an individual’s transportation contributes less in the overall greenhouse gas emissions.  Noteworthy is that electric vehicles are especially expensive, however, using LPG (liquid petroleum gas) while still fossil fuel, means less emission in comparison with diesel or petrol (Hickman, 2014).

Ethical living is a concept that is fast catching. Although it is not yet an organized social movement, individual efforts have been instrumental in raising awareness with many people joining in the movement. As a way of living that cares for the environment and people around, ethical living provides an avenue through which individuals can contribute to environmental sustainability through their actions. Given its targeting of consumers, ethical living ensures that they (consumers) carry on with the work started by companies infusing sustainable practices within their value chain and manufacturing. Adopting capsule wardrobes, buying from locals and reducing emission by using fuels with less emissions go a long way in contributing to environmental sustainability. Such actions are practicable and executable by all. It is time, therefore, for people to take individual responsibility towards environmental sustainability since climate change affects all of us equally.



Brimmer, S., E. (2007). The rile of ethics in 21st century organizations. Leadership Advance Online. Retrieved from

Chua, J., M. (2016). On Black Friday, Greenpeace calls for a “Fast Fashion” time-out. Ecouterre. Retrieved from

Hickman, L. (2014). A year of ethical living revisited. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Marsh, V. (2013). Consumers: The ethical way is an easy lifestyle choice. Financial Times. Retrieved from