There's always a more ethical alternative to everything. That's the whole point of anarchy, to analyse our actions and our affect on our environment and limit harm, counter authority as much as possible. Ethics isn't an all or nothing proposition - there are varying degrees of harm.
Just because some solutions aren't 100% pure and wonderful doesn't mean they're not worth doing over much more harmful alternatives.
An example of several levels of harm reduction that can measurably make a difference:
- Eating vegan locally-grown pesticide-free unprocessed food is absolutely more ethical than eating imported processed meat.
Far less carbon is burned to grow / store / transport / process / store again / re-transport the food, workers aren't exposed to the much more dangerous conditions of slaughterhouses / battery farms / pesticides, far less animal suffering and death goes into producing the food. These are real metrics.
There are of course still downsides to supporting for-profit agriculture including desertification, exploitation of migrant labor, and destruction of native ecosystems to plant monocultures.
But it's still much better than the alternative which ensures far greater harm by every metric.
- Buying seeds / cuttings / grafts and growing your own food in a community garden, as well as dumpster diving from outside supermarkets is more ethical than buying locally grown food from a for-profit business.
Even less carbon is burned, waste is diverted from landfills, there are no workers to exploit or endanger, there is no animal suffering and death if you use no-till methods, you control everything that goes into the soil (and ultimately your community's bodies) and can thus stave off desertification and actually improve the soil and rebuild the ecosystem.
Downsides: native flora is displaced in favour of domesticated food crops. Land ownership feeds the state. Living in a city means you'll still be consuming a lot of things you can't produce yourself in your limited space.
- Moving out of the city to a rural area and becoming a subsistence farmer to grow all your own food in a food forest you plant, giving away or trading your surplus. Foraging for food where it's sustainable to do so.
Forest gardening rewilds the planet. Primitive peoples made the rainforests as abundant as they are by curating them and spreading the plants they found most beneficial. If enough people planted food forests in an area, the local population could sustain themselves by hunting and foraging the way they did before civilization.
Personal action doesn't happen in a vacuum
When someone chooses to not e.g. eat cows, that directly creates less demand for cow meat. So over that person's lifetime, less forest will be bulldozed to graze the cows that the vegan didn't eat.
Some of the people that person interacts with will be influenced by their ethical choices and way of life and be inspired to also work to minimise their harm on the ecosystem.
So in this way, an individual action gradually becomes a collective action. People slowly emulate others after being exposed to their lifestyle and ultimately the local culture is changed.
People start planting food forests and others take up their example and pretty soon you have thousands of acres of land that are saved from desertification and become refuges for wildlife.
There are countless places where this is demonstrable, including where I live. Each family has their own plot of land that they cultivate. The more people choose to use forest farming methods instead of standard sprayed orchards, the more people are influenced to follow their example when seeing how successful this method is.
Continuing to eat meat / processed foods / buying a new phone, games console, tablet every year / using disposable plastic bags / toilet paper / chlorine cleaning products / building poorly insulated over-sized concrete buildings / not composting your waste / salting the snow / heating a pool / planting a lawn / etc / etc because "there's no ethical consumption" actively stands in the way of positive change and directly promotes inaction / harm.
Individualist "lifestylist" action isn't "liberal" just because you say so
Consumption under capitalism isn't ethical, but that's no excuse for inaction. There's no global revolution coming to change the way we live overnight. History has shown us the impossibility of that notion - with countless "revolutionary" societies repeating all the mistakes of capitalist ones.
But we can have small local revolutionary action in the here and now that can lead the way to sustained change at a wider level. Just ask the Zapatistas and similar anarchist movements around the world. No one is going to tell them to stfu and conform to globalist capitalist industrial civilization because all consumption is somehow equal.
There's nothing liberal about living what you preach. Oppose hierarchy? Live your life dedicated to minimizing hierarchy wherever you can. Set an example.
Badmouthing people for caring about minimizing the harm they do and for thinking long and hard about the ethical implications of their actions doesn't make you somehow more radical than them.
When people act like "praxis" is only their idea of whatever a 'perfect anarchist' is, I can't help but think, "well fuck anarchy, then; I'll never be perfect, I just want to make things slightly less shitty".
Isn't that why we were all drawn towards out political views? 'Cause we think they're a good way of making things less shitty? If you've lost sight of that (or, god forbid, if that isn't why you got into politics to begin with), I can't see myself listening to you.