"How Much is Enough?" is Not a Real Question
Lonesome George and I, a few years before his lonely death.
When faced with the painful knowledge of all impending environmental catastrophes, my immediate reaction is to change something about what I do in my daily life, and to do my part in curbing some disastrous trend like the proliferation of plastic in the ocean. So, I make it a point to turn down our home's thermostat during the winter, take the Boston T, and drive less, do one less restaurant take out per week…

Yet, being a 21st century smarty-pants momma, I can't escape that constant internal voice saying, "Is this enough? How do I know that the ground beef from Trader Joe's has a smaller carbon footprint than the Thai curry I didn't order… If I really worry about the future of the planet, why don't I look deeper? ... Like, how many pairs of shoes are enough for me? Seriously! … Does my kid really need this Storm Trooper Lego set? … Where will all of this stuff go? Why don't I try selling, donating or recycling some of it?" The questions are endless! Because smarty-pants digital era mommas know how to ask (and Google) maaaaany questions.

In the end, after accumulating enough evidence of the size of the problem, I feel nothing but defeated. So, I buy Marie Kondo's book, subscribe to The Minimalists blog, and I call it a day. Because I, and others like me, still have to go to work in the morning! We have to play with the kids after dinner. And have to worry about our better half's emotional peace and sense of well being… Because, while some make it their life's mission to dramatically alter their relationship to stuff, change their own consumption patterns, and teach others how to do so as a full-time job, the rest of us still find more value and meaning in thinking about, and being with, our loved ones rather than obsessing over our carbon footprint. And we totally have the right to do so!

But then, the businesswoman and entrepreneur in me whisper, "How much is enough – is that a real question?" Questions have answers. "How much is enough?" begs a number of other questions. It's more of a dilemma about the modern way of being. It's not easy to even create the logical framework within which to begin answering. We swim in an ocean of never-ending, yet disparate, information about the emissions our cars produce, about the origins of our kids' sneakers, and the potentially questionable environmental practices of the dairy farm up the road.

And therein I find my mission! Can I find a way to log everything I've bought in the last year? Can I "guess-timate" the carbon footprint of all that stuff? If I could, would others want to have the same info for their own households? Can I deliver that information to them scalably (business speak for "profitably")? If I could, what behavior would it unleash in the market? Will manufacturers like what I am doing? How about retailers? The government? Will anyone try to stop me? Who will help me? Will anyone want to join me? … And finally, if I succeeded, would that be enough?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Iva Teixeira is Co-Founder and CEO of Nestead. She lives in Somerville, MA and is very excited about the new subway line coming to her neighborhood.
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