It takes collective action to have societies and ecosystems that work well for everyone. Organising together to push towards this is the most important action any of us can undertake if we want societies that ensure individual and collective rights for all, equality (especially in relation to class, gender, nationality, and ethnicity), and
thriving environmental systems that we can live in lastingly. The sum
of our individual actions will not be enough to make the political,
economic, social, and environmental changes needed for this. I try and
participate in collective endeavours to make these changes happen.
As an individual complement, secondary to collective action, I also seek to work in ways that bring
us closer to rights and equality for all and to thriving ecosystems. Below are some of the choices I have made towards these goals, by taking into account issues of economics, environment, politics, and society (such as gender equality). I present the elements below both to give you a sense of the ethical choices I have made for my
work, and to put the spotlight on some great suppliers and providers.
Working through a co-operative
Co-operatives apply democracy, economic justice, and human rights to the workplace. I have chosen to run my paid work through an entrepreneurs' co-operative, because I cherish these values. Everyone should have access to well-paid work where they enjoy autonomy in collaborative and respectful settings. By being a member and an associate at the co-op, I support it through financial contributions, and through participation and leadership in its decision-making.
My co-op and I pay all of our taxes in France - as simple as that.
My co-op is called CAE Bourgogne, which roughly translates as Business and Employment Co-operative Burgundy. The co-op headquarters are in Dijon, Burgundy. Our website is here.
co-op belongs to the sector we call 'social and solidarity economy' in
French (an imperfect translation in English is 'social business').
We are part of several France-wide networks of such entrepreneurs' co-ops in this sector. You are most welcome to find out more about how we work and what international networks we belong to here.
Choosing suppliers and providers ethically
My bank is one of only two French banks to receive top ratings from independent organisations that fight for tax justice and transparency in finance and banking. It has been a leader in funding environmental action, the real economy, and solidarity for many years - it has been talking the talk and walking the walk years ahead of the curve.
In particular, it decided years ago to have zero investments in fossil fuels, and has upheld this. Similarly, it has zero involvement in tax dodging, instead offering strong transparency and traceability of its activities and taxes. Conversely, it has been a major funder for social and solidarity organisations (private and non-profit), supporting e.g. projects for employment, energy saving, renewable energies, international human rights solidarity, and international aid for development and humanitarian assistance.
Its structure is also democratic. It is a co-operative bank where the shareholders are us, the individual and institutional clients, and every year we participate in shaping the bank's priorities.
I avoid naming the bank here as a measure for information security, but if you are one of my clients or close partners, I will be happy to disclose this and answer any questions you have about the ethics of my banking arrangements.
IT - Computer, internet, & smartphones
For many years now, I have supported free and open-source software, net neutrality, online rights such as privacy, and the fight against monopolisation of internet services by a few for-profit businesses. I have been a grassroots activist, and volunteer trainer and helper, in these areas. I have supported people in understanding public debates about these issues, and have helped them shift towards IT practices in line with these values.
I have also sought to reduce the negative environmental impacts of my IT uses, in particular by making my computer and phone equipments last for as long as they could - e.g. repairing them, and choosing softwares that would let them function effectively for as long as possible.
I am still learning as I go, and I have not done everything I would like to do yet in these areas, such as using certain softwares or migrating the totally of my IT to certain systems. I also avoid giving out too many details about my IT set-up, as a measure for information security (but if you are a one of my clients or close partners, I will be happy to disclose this and answer any questions you have about the ethics and security of my IT arrangements).
Speaking generally, I recommend the following tools and resources - I use some of these myself, plan on using others soon, and have helped other persons use them successfully.
- Computer operating systems
(and all the key free & open-source programmes that go with it):
- Linux Mint: https://linuxmint.com/
- Linux Lite: https://www.linuxliteos.com/
- Smartphone operating systems
(and all the key free & open-source programmes and applications that go with it):
- Alternatives to Android: https://alternativeto.net/software/android/
- Useful programmes and applications: https://prism-break.org/en/categories/android/
- Security practices:
- Surveillance self-defense: https://ssd.eff.org/
- Security in a box (not updated any more, but still has useful pointers): https://securityinabox.org/en/
- Surveillance self-defense: https://ssd.eff.org/
- Great all-around resources:
- Framasoft (in French): https://framasoft.fr/
- Let's ungoogle internet - Degooglisons internet (in French): https://degooglisons-internet.org/
- Prism-break: https://prism-break.org/en/
- Domain name provider:
- Gandi: https://www.gandi.net/en
There are many further resources - there is happily a long list, the above are meant as starters!
Ecoburo is a fantastic French company that sells environmentally-friendly office supplies. They were one of the earliest companies to do this at scale for professional clients, and have kept up the great work ever since their founding. Great products, great service, great spirit! They are my go-to provider for office supplies:
Office snacks & beverages
I try and prioritise food and beverages with little to no animal protein, and that are produced and transported locally within as short a distance from my location as possible, and that are made under good economic and environmental conditions. When that is not possible, I favour organic, co-operative, and fair-trade products - again, prioritising the shortest distances first.
As a result, I buy a range of producers and sellers, from small-scale local farmers using organic or similar processes, to a co-operative chain of organic supermarkets, to France-wide fair trade networks. Examples of my larger-scale suppliers include:
- Artisans du Monde: https://www.artisansdumonde.org/
- Ethiquable: http://www.ethiquable.coop/
There are more great ones too that I occasionally turn to.
Travels - Reducing, mitigating, & offsetting
I try and reduce all my professional actions that contribute to
energy consumption and climate change, be they
in transportation, use of office heating, electricity use, etc. For consultants and researchers in international issues such as myself though, travel by plane is a particular problem. So in this regard, I do three things.
1. First, reduce. One of the reasons I offer primarily desk-based consultancies is that I am looking for ways to reduce travel by plane as much as possible, due to its major role in worsening climate change (and as a Westerner, I have a special historical responsibility in this regard). As of mid-2022, I have not travelled by plane since 2017.
2. Second, mitigate. If I am going to travel by plane, then I will follow recommendations on making the effects as limited as possible (such as these: https://www.choice.com.au/travel/on-holidays/airli...). For example, I will choose non-stop flights as much as financially possible for me, and I will try to stay for at least a month at destination, to make the best use of my time at one place instead of undertaking two plane trips to one place in a year.
3. Third, offset. I know carbon offsets are controversial, and I have issues with them myself. But for now, based on the research I have done, I think that a handful of rigorous, non-profit schemes are positive overall. So whenever I travel by plane, I voluntarily pay into Atmosfair, a well-established German carbon-offset scheme that has received positive assessments from a range of independent consumer groups and research institutions (https://www.atmosfair.de/). I pay it an offset for the environmental damage my plane trip causes in both CO2 and non-CO2 (e.g. contrails, ozone formation, and other effects). This offset is part of the cost of any travel I undertake, and I bill it to the users of my services. Have a look for yourself to see what an offset would cost you: https://www.atmosfair.de/en/offset/flight/