The Ethical Journey, part 1

Ethical The Ethical Journey

In the busyness of a new business, and of life generally, I have neglected to write a Wednesday blog post for the last couple of weeks. 
I also decided this week I'd write something a little different, rather than a maker story, I thought I'd share with you the start of my ethical journey, the one that I am on right now, that has shifted and changed, and that is informing so much of what we are doing at Brown's. I want to share the ups and downs, and my learnings from this journey. 
My Awakening to Ethics... 
Just over three years ago on the 1st of September 2014 I gave birth to our beautiful son Eddie.
During pregnancy I had a very strict notion of how I would birth him, and what I would be as a mother -  was going to have a natural birth, I was going to breastfeed for as long as he would breastfeed, and I was going to be the most adoring, loving, patient, kind mother around.
Reality, of course, laughed in my face, and the universe said 'no, there are other lessons for you here my Darling'. And without going into all the details which still bring with them lots of sadness I had to have an emergency caesarian, and despite trying absolutely everything (and I mean everything, I am as stubborn as they come) to breastfeed Eddie I found I had to bottle feed him and could only top up with the breast for around eight months.
So I was left with finding a way to be a perfect mother. I began to blog and use social media to discuss the idea of being more ethical, I was all about ethical fashion, and ethical living. I committed to only buying second hand or ethical clothes, and reusing/mending/making do as much as possible.
Also around this time Nick became quite ill, so we changed our eating habits dramatically and I charged forward with this determined that perfect mother and wife me would heal us all - lots of coconut oil, very little processed food, bone broth, no coffee or alcohol and so on. 
I also committed to not using any harsh chemicals in our life, so I was the queen of homemade natural cleaning products based on bicarb soda, vinegar and essential oils. We started a compost bin, we tried to grow herbs, I was determined that Eddie would see the wonders of sustainability! 
I did all of this while learning how to be a mother, and battling the many and varied complexities that came with that.
And then it all fell apart.
The time it took to clean with bicarb rather than bleach was just too much. Eddie would not eat the homemade mashed apples, vegetables or whatever I made, he would only eat the ones from the supermarket. I tried again and again to make bone broth, it was always a disgusting fat filled outcome. Finally I made one with fish heads (including the eyes) and the house smelt like there was dead fish for weeks, so I stopped cooking it... and so on with the many other changes I'd made which I believed made me more morally sound, more ethical. 
The Ethics centre of Australia defines ethics this way:

Ethical beliefs shape the way we live – what we do, what we make and the world we create through our choices. Ethical questions explore what Aristotle called 'a life well-lived'. 

Ethics isn't just an exercise for philosophers or intellectuals. It is at the core of everyday life.

We ask ethical questions whenever we think about how we should act. Being ethical is a part of what defines us as human beings. We are rational, thinking, choosing creatures. We all have the capacity to make conscious choices – although we often act out of habit or in line with the views of the crowd. We could all make conscious and conscientious ethical choices if we wanted to.
Our ethics pertain to our moral principles. And at the time when I had Eddie, and for the six to twelve months after this I had decided on very strong moral principles around motherhood, family life, what I wore, what I ate, what I used, etc. etc. My judgement of myself when I strayed outside of this was so harsh, and I so feared the judgement of others (because let's face it, we are so terribly judgemental these days) if I wasn't completely ethical in all ways. 
And that's part one my Darlings, I think I'll leave this journey there this week, and will share more next week about the next stage of this journey, and the influence this had on the creation of Brown's and on running this business. 
Until next time, xx Cate 

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  • Cate Gilpin on

    Darling, I’m sorry for the delay I just saw this! This is exactly how I feel, it is hard sometimes, but I know it is truly worthwhile, but I can’t manage it all the time… You inspire me with your crafty abilities too! xx

  • Madeleine Brown on

    Hi Cate, I’m not sure I ever told you this- but my own ‘ethical journey’ was very much kickstarted by the blogging you were doing around that time. Lord knows I have a long way to go- I don’t yet live as a hermit in a cave, which I think is probably the only way to leave no footprint. Sometimes (often) I fail, and take the easy choice instead of the ethical choice. But having the conversation about what choices we can make inspires others to think about those options too- and so it grows, little by little. You know all this already- just thought I’d back you up with a real-life example- me :-) I am inspired by your passion xx

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