I recently read an interview with Dr. Ruth Westheimer (87 years old) in Harvard Business Review. Remember her? She was a popular celebrity sex therapist in the ‘80s. I have fond memories of meeting her in college when I hosted her for a Psychology Club lecture.
In the HBR article, she was asked, “Your family died in the Holocaust. How did that affect the way you conducted the rest of your life?” she replied “I did know I had to do something for others to justify being alive.” That was a huge reflection moment for me personally. I know I will never make the same size dent on this earth that Dr. Ruth has, but I am making a solid effort. I often think about the value I add to my friends, family, customers, business, community and the planet. Am I doing enough or am I sucking more oxygen out of the room than I deserve? Did I increase or decrease my value today? What is my personal sustainability plan? Of course, I add much more value some days than other, but don’t we all? I hope we are all on a journey of continuous improvement with a sound sustainability plan.
One, not so small, sustainability decision I recently made was to stop using disposable coffee pods. I ran across a data visualization of what 18 billion single-serve coffee pods looks like. All stacked up. Eighteen billion pods covers one New York City block to the height of a 35-story building! I always felt a tinge of guilt when I threw away the coffee pod, but that image made a big impact on me. I immediately placed my Amazon order for reusable coffee pods and am now a changed woman. I just know that I do not want to be a resident in that building any longer. I will never go back to disposable pods and yes, I will judge you just a little bit if you do. I cannot judge too hard because I have “been there done that.” I will probably just text you the coffee pod data visualization. As the great Maya Angelou says “when you know better, you do better” and I now know better!
I still have a few more years until I am 87 years old, but I am always finding ways to justify being alive and revamping my sustainably plan. Have you asked yourself lately how you are justifying being alive and does your sustainability plan need a reboot?