Ethical Living Blog


Hello from freezing Wellington,

There is something that about being a so-called ‘food ethics blogger’ that really bugs me. I think it’s that sense that maybe I should be a model for all my readers (yes, both of you)…a paragon of virtue if you will. The unfortunate truth is that I’m not really all that ethical when it comes to food. I mean well, but I have a couple of guilty food secrets.

The first is that sometimes I do let food go off and throw it out. It’s not deliberate. I don’t have a vendetta against market gardeners or anything. It just sort of happens. I know there’s no excuse, but sometimes I get busy or just forget what’s already in the fridge when I’m at the supermarket. Then, when I get home, I just can’t face eating food that’s limp or got stuff growing on it. Even worse, as a gardener, I know how much effort and time it takes to grow things. But does that stop me chucking that partly mouldy orange? Not a bit.

Even worse, I eat meat. I know, I know, I feel terrible about it. At least I do until that first mouthful of delicious butter chicken. Then my morals are drowned out by the siren song of a belly that’s nice and full. I think chickens are marvellous creatures and I genuinely mean them no harm. It’s just really unfortunate they also happen to be so tasty.

I know the meat industry is terrible in so many ways. It is a major contributor to our environmental footprint. It accounts for 18% of our greenhouse gas emissions, including 65% of nitrous oxide emissions, which are 300 times worse for climate change than carbon dioxide. Animal agriculture is also soaking up much of our arable land, drinkable water, edible food and combustible fossil fuel resources. Intellectually I know these things, but tell them to my hungry belly. Vege-burger? Um, no thanks.

Vegetable burger

                Plant patties? Um, no thanks, I’m not that hungry

So yeah, not proud. I have found that, as I’ve gotten a bit older, I was able to wean myself mostly off red meat at least. And somehow once I ate less, the attraction of it also kind of wore off. I hasten to add that if this transition had required more than a minor tweak, there’s no way I would have done it. But now that I’m there, I feel pretty good about it.

What I’ve realised is that I don’t think to myself ‘I’ll be ethical’, then act ethically. The best I can do is go shopping before I’m hungry (and plan to buy just chicken and veges), then, well, use my inherent laziness for the rest. It’s kind of like saying I’m mostly moral…when it’s convenient…and when my resolve isn’t tested too much. The trick is to do the shopping before I’m actually hungry.

As it turns out, there’s a name for wimpy, low-self control, semi-vegetarians like me: flexitarian. So, if you manage to go the whole distance and become a card carrying vegetarian, big kudos to you. But if you’re a morally ambiguous, weak willed, flexitarian like me, I’m certainly not judging.

Emily and Melissa started their journey towards Leo Strange in very different places and were brought together by truly serendipitous experiences in India. After hearing their story and seeing their samples, its hard to believe they only met a few months ago.

Emily © 2017 Zev Weinstein

Emily has over 10 years experience in the fashion industry, predominately in High Street fashion. During this time she began to realise the serious social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry and started identifying potential areas for change. While in Northeastern India Emily volunteered with a friend’s grassroots educational Charity, the One Love Project, based in Pushkar. Here she met a family that had lost their factory in a fire, and started producing kimonos with them from Sari waste. In this experience Emily saw potential to effect change and became motivated by a desire to work closely with villages in India.

Melissa’s journey with fashion begins at a young age but pauses when her sewing machine catches fire at around the age of sixteen. Following this she spends some time travelling the world and arrived in India, where she opened up a cafe. While running the cafe Melissa worked closely with women in the local community and saw potential for supporting their empowerment through providing employment. This experience of working and living in India inspired her to impact change in these communities through social enterprise. It is also here, surrounded by the amazing textiles traditions of India, that her passion for creating garments was reborn.


When I was asked to contribute to this ethical living blog with a few thoughts on sustainability, I thought it would be an easy feat. These days we frequently hear the words ‘sustainability’, ‘ethics’ and ‘fair trade’ used freely, and at times, interchangeably.


The sustainability that we most talk about most often is the definition of sustainability adopted in the 1987 publication Our Common Future – also known as the Brundtland Report. According to the report:

“[Sustainability is] development that meets the needs of present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Our Common Future, 1987).

It’s meaning is simple and straightforward: to be sustainable, we must make sure that what we do today will not disrupt the wellbeing of tomorrow.



– by Steve Waldegrave

Kia ora! My name is Steve and I am writing to you from the top of a hill in Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand. It’s not any random hill (that would be weird); it’s where I live.

I’m half Polish, half Kiwi and bit further back, a bit Irish, a bit Scottish, and even a tiny bit Indian (on my grandmother’s side). It’s complicated. (more…)


St Monica’s College is a very special school. It is one of few schools that has dedicated Coordinators of Social Justice and Sustainability who both have generous time allowances to do their work. We are a school dedicated to making this world a better place and promoting care for creation. It is no wonder then, that we are a Fairtrade Accredited School. (more…)


– by Antony DiMase

One of the biggest myths in sustainable architecture is that somehow it costs more to build a green building.  Leaving aside the lifecycle cost and social impact of not building green – this myth ought to be challenged.  The common thought amongst developers is that green buildings cost about 15% more than regular buildings and that the consultant costs are much higher.  As such it is difficult to justify building less of what you need to be more “green”.   Sure we all want to do the right thing – but as George Osborne told the British Parliament in 2011 “We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business”.  Closer to home – think of a school committee trying to justify not building a new classroom in order to be more sustainable – it simply is not going to happen. (more…)


While awareness of the social and environmental cost of fashion and food production and consumption is on the rise, it can often feel like there is a lack of guidance on what actions you can take and where you can find ethical and sustainable products. What stands out in many conversations I have on this topic is a sense of helplessness in the face of injustice, with many people feeling unsure of what to do, and whether their actions actually do make a meaningful impact. The United Nations named 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, which present exciting opportunities for aspiring conscious consumers. Travel combined with making a positive impact on peoples lives and the environment seems like a pretty good formula to counter feelings of helplessness and despondency. (more…)

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