The Ongoing Battle: Doing Better vs. Being Perfect
Have you ever heard of the term “green wash”?
The definition when you ask Google is:
disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.
But I have a confession — just before I started working at Pela, I was NOT thinking about the environment or the repercussions of my actions on the planet at all.
I was a glorified squatter, living at my sister’s and just trying to figure out my life while keeping up appearances. I lived out of some duffle bags filled with the best fast fashion money could buy (aka what I could afford) and for those two and a half years, I was just trying to stay afloat. I was not thinking of all the waste I was creating or my impact on the environment.
My biggest crime was probably ordering in. My favourite thing to order was pho, a Vietnamese beef noodle soup. Obsessed would be an understatement.
So how bad could pho take out be? Well, there’s the styrofoam container for the noodles, a plastic container for the broth, plastic bags for the bean sprouts and little plastic containers for the hoisin and sriracha hot sauce. All this within another plastic bag that came with plastic utensils and single-use bamboo chopsticks.
This. Two to three times a week. And this was just when I was craving pho. This doesn’t take into account the Thai or Mexican cravings that were sprinkled in every month. All this waste going down the garbage chute, out of sight…out of mind?
Even when I write this I feel like I should go to eco-jail. I am the voice behind a brand that is trying to change the way we consume plastic products, but somedays I feel like the worst fraud ever. To think of all that waste I can’t take back…these days, it makes me sick to my stomach.
Is this what green washing means? Can you only run an eco-friendly business if you are living a perfectly green life? What does a perfectly green life look like? Is it an off-the-grid tiny home in the woods?
Where do eco-friendly products fit in a world trying to reverse all these man-made wrongs? Should they even exist at all?
Can a phone case REALLY make a difference at this point?
While I’ll never fault myself for critical thinking, I realize that most of these questions are actually crippling thoughts. What is there to gain from standing still in the fear of hypocrisy or being judged for not being green enough. For not being perfect.
It’s tempting to adopt a do nothing approach in order to do no harm. Deep down, I know that’s a total cop out.
I don’t think anyone should make false eco-friendly claims as a sales gimmick… but what if you’ve created something you believe is a better product but is still flawed by some standards? And what of the creators/employees? Can they believe in better and still make mistakes?
Do you wait until you have the perfect solution OR can you iterate and improve as you go?
So what is the point of this post? Besides the ramblings of a guilt-ridden, slightly neurotic, pho-consuming, entrepreneur…
Well I just wanted to say this:
We live in a generation where social media witch hunts are happening every minute of the day. You can feel like all your choices and what you stand for can be attacked from a lens you might have forgotten to look through.
I know I feel vulnerable every day. Generally, I don’t say much about anything.
But I don’t want to stay this way. I do want to make a difference and be a better person, bit by bit.
I stand behind Pela because our guiding principle is believe in better. And while we use keywords like “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” to point out our differentiators between our case and the millions of plastic cases out there, human is the best way to describe our company.
Human and hopeful.
Today I tell you that I have contributed to the mess we see on our planet and now it’s time to help clean it up. Bit by bit.
What does it mean to hold a Pela Case in your hand?
- You believe we don’t have to rely solely on fossil fuels to make quality products anymore
- You believe excess plastic packaging is wasteful and unnecessary
- You believe the products we only need for a few years shouldn’t still exist hundreds of years from now
- You believe toxins like lead, cadmium, phthalates and BPA have no place in the products we touch every day
- You believe in businesses that donate a portion of their profits to help grassroots environmental organizations
- You believe that we can all do a little better
Pela Case — a phone case tackling the growing waste of plastic tech accessories. The Pela Case is 100% compostable and uses renewable byproducts of the Canadian flaxseed harvest. http://pelacase.com