Archive for ‘Ethical Issues’

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Ethics Of Rat Killing

We’ve found ourselves with a rather nasty problem – there’s rat(s) under our shed. Given its a decrepit pile of wood thats not really surprising – I’m tempted to ask the landlord if we could knock it down – but then it would leave my little veggie patch and greenhouse open to the wind that blasts down the side of the house, and we couldn’t afford to replace it (and no, our landlord wouldn’t!).

We first realised we had rats a couple of months ago – thankfully there’s no sign of them in the house, they just seem to be hanging out under the shed and chewing the couple of plastic bags that were in there! Chris has seen them dart across the lawn out of the corner of his eye once or twice. I picked up some poison the other day and have been mulling it over ever since … unfortunatly this morning as I was watching the birds in the garden through the window I also saw one of the little blighters, bold as brass, running back and forwards from under the front of the shed. After a couple of minutes quietly watching I banged on the window and yelled to see if he would be scared off – wasn’t bothered in the slightest, just looked up at me and then went back to his business. It looks like they’re getting water from next door’s water butt, which is uncovered and has things piled up next to it. I’m tempted to pop a note through the door asking them to cover it up but as Chris said they’d find water elsewhere.

After some internal fighting I went and put some poison out, inside some washed out tin cans (the instructions recommend inside some guttering, which we don’t have unfortunatly), and tucked underneath the shed.

I’m really struggling with this one. On the one hand they’re vermin, spread diseases (though apparently not much more than any other animal’s faeces does), will decimate any veggies I grow, and will breed like wildfire. On the other hand, being vegetarian, I really struggle with the idea of poisoning any animal. I admit we took the coward’s way out – neither me or Chris would be able to deal with traps, and the problem of dispatching one if it doesn’t get killed by the trap. The things that kick out a nasty noise to repel them look good – but need to be plugged into the mains (no good in the garden). We rang the local council and they don’t trap them – they just put down poison too, and charge an arm and a leg for the privilege.

In some ways I really regret seeing that one this morning, not because it scared me but the opposite – it’s the first time I’ve seen a wild rat in the flesh and it’s gone from being this demonic, terrifying creature to a small fuzzy one, with a twitching nose, that looked highly intelligent.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Well, its about time to make some resolutions for 2008!

1) Lose Weight.

You know, I’ve resolved to lose weight every year for god knows how long. I live in eternal hope that it’ll actually happen!

2) Cut Down My Landfill

Despite the fact that we recycle most of our tins, glass, card, some plastics, and paper, we still fill a wheelie bin every 2 weeks! So my aims for this are – a) recycle ALL glass/tins, even if it means extra washing up, b) check out what plastics can be recycled – theres a lot of those shaped plastic tray things that don’t have obvious symbols on so they end up getting binned, c) compost compostables! – get a small ‘bin’ for the kitchen for veg scraps etc, and d) stop using disposable sanitary products. I already use a mooncup about 75% of the time, but I do also use some towels and pantyliners. Once I’ve run down my stocks of disposables I want to switch to washable pads.

3) Cut Out The Chemicals.

I am gradually becoming a more environmentally-friendly person, but nowhere near the extent I’d like to. So my main goals for this year will be a) to cut out nasty chemical cleaners and b) use mostly natural skincare/soap etc (anyone know a ‘green’ anti dandruff shampoo that works??).

4) Sort Out Finances.

Despite the fact my boyfriend is working, I seem to be running out of money every month, possibly even to the same extent as I did when he wasn’t! That’s totally ridiculous so my aim is to really sort out my spending and stop blowing money on useless crap. I have what to me seems like a lot of debt – £1200 or so on my credit card, £300 constantly-used overdraft, plus a student loan of £6000+ (but that won’t kick in til i’m earning more). I’d really like to make some headway at getting rid of the CC debt and overdraft this year, and hopefully starting some savings.

Then, there’s the things I’d like to do… not resolutions as such as some of them are enjoyable things, new skills I’d like to learn, etc.

1) The Garden.

I’ve decided to do a lot of growing in pots on the patio in 2008, as it worked so well in 2006. I will of course still be using my bed but for things that don’t suffer slug damage so much – ie tomatoes and beans. I’d like to get a little more serious with growing salad veg this year and try and succession sow properly so I have a little to pick all the time. I’d also like at growing peppers in the greenhouse – the sweet kind, but also jalapenos, which I’d like to learn how to bottle for mexican meals. kethry also has some mild chilli seeds which sound great for roasting and stuffing.. yum!

2) Craft.

The main thing I’d like to learn is how to sew on a machine – both for fun and for practical uses such as hemming scraps of cloth/old clothes for reusable cloths, and making washable sanitary towels.

3) Cooking.

I definitely want to improve my cooking skills. The main thing I’d like to work on is vegetarian dishes that don’t use meat replacements – Chris loves them so we use them far too much for my liking. For the sake of gradually working towards a simpler life with less processed crap I’d like to use more vegetables, pulses, beans etc.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Once in a while I deliberately expose myself to photos, descriptions, videos of the processes that produce our meat… as a vegetarian, I do it to remind myself why, to strengthen my convictions. These days most of our meat comes in shrinkwrapped, pre-prepared, sterile slabs bearing no resemblance to the living, breathing, feeling animal they came from. It’s easy, even as a veggie, to forget this, to forget the suffering that went into producing the food, so I remind myself so I don’t go back to eating it.

Today I stumbled across (in a vegetarian community that I read for recipes etc) a video which a lot of people had a lot of praise for: Earthlings.

I realise that to an extent this is propaganda – the worst of the worst – to get a totally unbiased opinion on any of this would be nearly impossible. But even if it is the extreme we all know that similar practises are going on all over the world every day.

I’m not going to ask you all to watch it. I don’t want to be a preacher, as I realise that trying to force your beliefs on others merely pushes them away. As Chris reminded me, all we can do, really, is to vote with our feet and try not to contribute to this practise of treating animals like machines.

(By the way… I succeeded in my goal – I upset myself and reminded myself. I watched 13 minutes of the film and cried for the next 20.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I’ve just watched a rather interesting documentary about Coca Cola – or rather, the unseen, unsavoury side of the brand. It focused on Coke’s history of causing water shortages (India), pollution, child labour on sugar plantations, and how little they care about their workers (ie, giving no protection or even showing any interest as trade union members in Columbia have been murdered). It also touched on the effects of coke on children, not least the caffeine, which has been proven to have no affect on taste, but funnily enough does give it some addictive properties.

It was rather disturbing viewing, especially given that I’m um.. rather addicted to Coke :( (or rather diet coke -I went cold-turkey on the full sugar stuff a couple of months ago). I’m going to try and make the effort to cut out coke – you’d think it would be easy given I’ve cut out meat etc for ethical reasons, but I’m not sure it will be. Still, I’ll try.

I think the documentary is available online at (but I can’t check as I run Win2k), or if you have catchup tv such as Virgin Media it should be on there til tonight.