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Being ethical in a material world

Here's my dilemma: Since I was 16, I've been active in projects relating to the UN MDGs. These have ranged from raising AIDS awareness to environmental sustainability and fair trade. It's come to my attention that being ethical is really hard in today's society. For example, I saw a rather nice faux-green leather handbag in Primark for £2 ($4). Great price huh? Not when you realise that it's the result of much exploitation of Chinese labour.

Then there's the other extreme, for example, buying a $30k handbag. There's no way on God's earth that every single cost of making the handbag amounts to anything near the retail price. The large percentage of profit goes to the brand name. There's a limit to how 'good' the quality of a product can be, it is material after all. Yet, these brand names have caused people to amount more and more credit card debts trying to sustain a lifestyle associated to them.

So which handbag to buy? The cheap one seems like a great deal, until you feel the guilt of exploiting millions of workers. The expensive bag makes me sad; the thousands of of dollars of profit could have been spent on equipping a rural Nigerian hospital with obstetrics equipment for emergency caesareans ($600) or so many years of ARV drug therapy for a HIV+ patient at $2 p.d.

I've just got off the phone to Mark who agrees with me that the best things in life are free. He could make me an engagement ring from tin foil and take me camping underneath the stars for our honeymoon, I would only love him more (if it's possible).

I don't think one is justified in spending a little or a lot 'just because' they can afford it. If by some miracle I become an amazing cardio-thoracic surgeon, I would still never be seen with a Chanel, Gucci, Armani or what-have-you handbag. Instead, perhaps I can afford to be more ethical in the purchases I make.

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Tornado

A tornado hit London mid-morning yesterday. Three residential streets were torn to pieces. Luckily there weren't that many casualties because kids were at school and parents at work. The scary thing was that the hospital I am studying at is just in the neighbouring area!!! That was too close for comfort. Fortunately the major incident protocol was not required.

A patient died today after a cardiac arrest in the coronary unit. It felt bizarre to see the doctors doing cycles of CPR and giving huge injections. It was so sad to see a relatively young man pass away in front of you. What I found distressing was that the doctors were still arguing over the patient after they decided to call it. I found it very disrespectful. I felt so detached today, will I really be able to do that myself?

New Friends-only LiveJournal

So I’ve decided to switch back to livejournal after using blogger for a while. I’m quite proud of what I did with that page after having taught myself HTML over the summer. (I can read and understand the codes now, make minor adjustments too, but don’t ask me construct my own CSS or make some sort of animated slide show, I’m far from a techno whiz-kid.) So the reason I’ve returned back to LJ is because I can’t lock my entries for a selected audience and I have written some deeply personal entries concerning Hawaii. LJ allows me to lock the more sensitive entries. If you're a friend, then you can read them.


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Leaving on a jetplane for the Aloha state!

I am leaving for Heathrow airport in half an hour. WITHIN 24 HOURS I AM GOING TO SEE MARK IN HONOLULU. Breathe, breathe, breathe! What am I doing?!?! Am a nervous wreck! I think I might need to be sedated during the flights. How are Mark's family going to react to me? How is MARK going to react to me?! This is so scary, I've gone over the scenario so many times in my head, what if the reality is so much more different??? Wish me bon voyage! Talk to you from the other side of the world...

Trip of a Lifetime

I don't believe it. After a month of struggle with my parents, there came to a point last night where I had no more words to say and no more tears to shed. All about a boy. So everything reached breaking point and I didn't know if I could defend my position anymore. Then my parents gave in. I think they've realised I've grown up. They can only offer guidance and no longer lead me down the path they want me to take anymore. But they'll always be there to pick up the pieces...

For now, I'm leaving on a jetplane for the aloha state!

News

Whilst I was away in London last weekend I met up with a friend who told me he actually read this so I'd better update it...

What can I say, on the surface everything is probably as 'normal' as it can be. I'm going to work in a local high street clothes store most days, earning money which is directly going towards paying rent for my student house in London. Sob sob. Time has gone by sooo quickly. I finished my exams two months ago. I told myself I would read ahead of some lectures next year to avoid the panic attacks but ha, I haven't touched a single textbook. There's still over a month left...

Grandma has stayed with us for over two months now. Today she confirmed her trip back to Beijing for the 26th August. I'm really sad to see her go because I've grown closer to her as she's gotten older. There are things she can't do now and I sudden feel liberated in being able to care for someone else, no longer being the child. Bless her, this is her first and probably only trip abroad. She's tried to sample as much of life here as she can. I was quite surprised how many sights we packed into our London trip considering she's not in the best of health.

Beneath the surface, the past few days have been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster and I'm still not sure how it's going to end. For once I've been open about my feelings to my parents. Just as I thought that they might understand how I've changed since moving down to London by actually agreeing to let me make my own choices (Godforbid, my own mistakes) we have returned back to square own.

*screams into a pillow*

Content

Tonight I'm going to sleep knowing that someone loves me in the world and I love that person. Such a bizarre feeling, one I find both inspirational and reassuring. It brings a smile to my face just before I enter into a deep slumber (techinically it's phase three of the sleep cycle).

The London house is ours at last and my string quartet have found an ace player to replace me. All things going smoothly, I should be back at work soon, earning some pennies to pay for my rent and perhaps a holiday to somewhere like erm...a certain Pacific island. Well, the weather here has been great, been on the beach in a bikini!

Remembrance

Today’s date was very significant to the people of London and across the UK. It marks the anniversary of those terrible atrocities which occurred on the London transport system. A wave of nausea ran through me as I watched the breakfast news a year ago and remembered that a friend and I had passed through those areas on the London Underground just a few days before to attend the LIVE 8 concert in Hyde Park. What was I doing going to university in central London?

An eerie feeling of anxiety settled over the nation as people took time out of their busy lives to remember and reflect during the two minutes of silence. Had people forgotten? The public have been using transport as often as they did before, did today make them uneasy? Has remembering made the nation feel vulnerable again? Whatever individuals’ feelings were, I am glad that a human’s will to thrive is stronger than their sense of fear, or we would live in constant anxiety.

The place I lived in London was just a stone’s throw away from Edgware Road Station. I wish I could have been there today to lay a floral attribute and take part in the public commemoration flower mosaic in Regent’s Park. My thoughts with this entry are dedicated to those unfortunate innocent souls who shall eternally be remembered.

Exam results, summer job and new house.

Gosh, I can’t believe I forgot to mention in my last entry that I passed all my first year exams. Yes, I PASSED ALL MY EXAMS! I’m through to second year! All those entries I sobbed my way through in early June ended in tears of joy the day I received my results. I don’t have to resit any exams! I’m so happy! I pulled it off! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I’ve also found a summer job at NEXT clothing as a temporary summer sales assistant. I go for my induction later today. I’m a bit nervous because I’ve never worked in such a big store before, I could just about cope with the little ancient till in the pharmacy I used to work in. I’m also very annoyed that any money I earn over the summer will go towards paying RENT for my overpriced London house. Hurrah.

Leaving London

Have I really neglected this page for nearly two weeks? My situation has changed and time has flown by very quickly. I have since left London (after some very hasty packing) and am now living at the new family home up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the northernmost city in England before you hit the Scottish border.

After the summer ball, I met up with some childhood girlfriends in Stratford-upon-Avon whom I have missed the most whilst I’ve been at university. With them I share everything. We talk about everything. Amongst the ‘who from school was doing what now’ was a conversation about the various different types of condoms one can purchase. We discovered that none of us (I am ashamed to admit) knew what a dental dam was precisely…

So Friday 23rd June was the last night I slept in my bed at Wilson House. I will miss that bed, comfortable and bigger than average, I remember being pleasantly surprised the first night I moved in. Now all that lies in store for the person who will move into my room. I wish I had left a note! Well, maybe I will write them a letter next year. What a sad sentimental girl I hear you say?

Dad and I left bright and early on Saturday despite a very difficult operation trying to load all my belongings into the car. We somehow managed (just) and I hastily said goodbye to anyone who was awake at 8.30 am. With my stuff spilling into the front seats, we drove away from central London all the way 300 miles north to the other end of the M1 -> home again.