Ethical living · Social justice

Adventures in Just Living: Books, Bags, Boxes and Supply Chains

After last week’s blog on mental health, I feel on more secure ground writing about some of the ways Mr Pilgrim and I have tried to live more justly and what we are discovering.

Books: I’ve found a great alternative to Amazon: Better World Books – for every book that’s sold a percentage is given to literacy schemes and they’ll also donate a book to someone in need. They’re great for many reasons and I recommend looking at their website in more detail to discover more about their marvellousness! I’ve also used Eden for purchasing specifically Christian books.


Bags: My eyes opened to what I was throwing into the black bin (for landfill), I realised that as a family we use a lot of sandwich bags. I googled ‘reusable sandwich wrappers’ and found Re-Wrap-It – we have bought one with robots on for Small Boy to take to preschool and then I’ll use it when I return to work and he goes to nursery. They’re designed by Shona from Glasgow who writes:

Manufacture is predominantly done by the inmates at Kilmarnock Prison. I felt very strongly that as a “green” product they should be made locally not imported from overseas. The inmates learn a skill which hopefully helps with their rehabilitation and could lead to job opportunities in the future.’

Boxes: We had a fun family visit to Church Farm, a social enterprise near Stevenage. The farm runs a grocery box scheme and we ordered one of their vegetable boxes and a selection of organic meat. I loved walking around the farm and want to return to find out more about their farming practices, for instance I was fascinated to discover the chickens live in an orchard because the chickens are a natural insecticide!


I’m so impressed and grateful that Mr Pilgrim is willing and enthusiastic about eating less meat. We’ve found that meals have become more of an event – a time to talk and share about our days. Our cooking has become more creative and we’re appreciating food and time together in a new way. Mr Pilgrim, Small Boy and I made a beetroot cake with our veggie box beetroot and I’m enjoying more healthy and interesting lunches. The tomatoes smell like the ones I ate in childhood grown by my grandad in his greenhouse. One disappointment was the unappetising lentil and spinach curry I cooked – I should have paid more attention when the author of the cookbook herself stated that it wasn’t very good!

Supply chains: The more I read about how to shop ethically, the more I value the importance of the supply chain. One of my favourite ever academic modules was a qualitative research course I took with Dr Ian Cook (a radical geographer) then at the University of Birmingham – a course which changed the way I looked at the world. His PhD was on the journey of a papaya and the difficulties he had in writing about the supply chain of this particular fruit. He has a short article about this in the first edition of the Journal of Consumer Ethics and has set up Follow The Things  – a non-academic website looking at commodity chains.

Starting 26 June, Ian Cook is leading a free online course with Future Learn called ‘Who made my clothes?’ which I’ve signed up to do.

Next time: I still have to write about my beautiful organic cotton hoodie, tuna, my new washing up liquid and laundry detergent, and my unease at being ‘a consumer’ (I think I need to consume less but how and what?), the power of small changes, and how so much of living justly seems to depend on privilege, wealth and time.

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