We recently had the opportunity to talk with Emily Pack, the creator and mind behind Ethically Emma, a sustainable and eco-friendly blog designed to inform others about the importance of shopping ethically in our world today. We truly enjoyed getting to know Emily, her mission, and wanted to share some of her insights!
You are a self-proclaimed “ethical enthusiast”. Can you tell me a little more about what led you to this lifestyle?
Back in high school, my youth pastor introduced me to the reality of human trafficking. It immediately broke my heart and I had to learn more. I continued to do research and eventually focused my senior project on researching companies that exploit human labor for profit.
This opened a door that I have not been able to shut years later! Once your eyes are opened to the harsh reality of how products and clothing are really made, it’s difficult to go back to your old ways of purchasing.
Now have I been perfectly strict in purchasing only ethical goods over the years? I am honest with the fact that no, I haven’t been. Sadly, it’s quite difficult to find ethically made goods of all the products we use regularly. But I’m on a mission to seek out those brands and find those companies working for the empowerment of others! My goal is to do the research and to share about these ethical products and companies with anyone who feels the same pull toward living more ethically, as I do.
You mention on your blog that you and your husband are on a budget (never fun!). What are your tips for smart consumption and shopping ethically while on a budget?
Yes! Considering my husband and I are on a mission to be free from our student loans by the end of this year, we are intentional and creative about our budget.
First tip: give yourself a spending budget each month. We’ve given ourselves an individual spending budget per month, which helps avoid impulse buys and keeps us on track financially. Contrary to what you might think, it’s actually fun charting out what ethical products I want to purchase each month that are within budget. Some months I am able to purchase several smaller or less expensive ethical items. Other months, I splurge on one gorgeous, handcrafted piece.
Second tip: quality over quantity and secondhand over fast fashion. My husband and I try to live a simple lifestyle. We moved to South Korea with only a few suitcases and we enjoy living with less. We prefer quality over quantity when buying brand new items. We also love second hand treasures over mass produced fast fashion. Go on a hunt at a local thrift shop. Set up a clothing swap with your close friends. Recycling fashion is a wonderful, affordable way to live more ethically!
You have included Anchal Project on “The List”. How did you find out about our program and products?
I actually discovered Anchal Project via Instagram! Instagram has become a hub for finding new ethical companies and organizations. I was immediately inspired by Anchal Project’s focus on fighting human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking in India. As noted on Anchal Project’s website,
“The United Nations estimates there are 40 million commercial sex workers worldwide & 10 million in India alone.”
This is devastating! Providing job security is one of the most effective ways to fight human trafficking, as most individuals are pulled into human trafficking because of a lack of sustainable income. I love that Anchal Project is not just hoping for global change, but actively creating it.
What advice would you give to someone that is starting to practice smarter consumption ?
My advice would be to network with others who are also practicing smarter consumption. As I noted earlier, living a more ethical lifestyle can feel daunting or lonely if you are pursuing it on your own. Connecting with others who are inspired and passionate about living more ethically can help you stay motivated and find new brands, products, and organizations!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced or the biggest lesson you have learned so far on this journey to live a more ethical lifestyle?
I think the biggest lesson I have learned is to have grace for myself. The reality is that I’m not always able to shop for the more ethical option, either because of my location or because of finances. One day, I would love to find the ethical version of all the products I use regularly! As of now, I am still learning and taking small steps to move toward a fully ethical lifestyle. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but with knowledge, determination, and perseverance, it is possible.
And finally, If you could design any change in the world, what would it be?
Wow! This is a difficult question to answer. I would love to see so many changes in our world! If I had to narrow it down to one, I would choose to change the individualistic or self-consumed mindset that plagues many of us. We live in an age where we are self-consumed. I fully admit that I have felt and exercised this, too. We look out for our best, even at the expense of others.
When I lived in Uganda, I watched communities sacrifice their individual needs and happiness to support others in their community or village that were suffering. I think if we can move beyond constantly asking, “What about me? What do I want? What do I need?” and have a more global, others focused perspective, we could see significant change take place.