How NOT to reduce your pollution

September 21, 2017 by Joshua
in Awareness, Choosing/Decision-Making, Nature, Tips

Do you want to pollute less but can’t stop yourself?

If so, I bet you’re approaching it in a way that’s doomed to fail. You’re probably lying to yourself about how hard it is too.

car pollution

People ask me a lot:

  • What do you eat if you don’t eat packaged food?
  • What do you do to make up for not flying?
  • Where do you get your protein?

Did you ever notice how if you ask someone the time just after they looked at their phone or watch, they often don’t know? We often feel an impulse to check. Then, once we have, we forget because we didn’t care, we just acted on the impulse.

I’ve learned that almost no one cares about the answers to the bulleted questions above to act on them. I think they’re just satisfying fleeting impulses because no one acts on them. Sadly, that means they’re wasting my time.

Lately, I’ve answered as follows. I’ll answer it as if for the first point, but the gist applies to the other two too.

There are two answers to your question. One is the answer you’re looking for, which I suggest is the wrong way of looking at it. The second is an effective answer, but no one goes for that answer, so I conclude that people don’t care.

The first answer is for me to tell you what I ate Monday, Tuesday, and so on. It wouldn’t help you because everyone eats differently anyway. It’s just a bunch of facts. It won’t help you learn anything. It’s like the mainstream way of teaching.

The second answer is meaningful and will help you learn about the world and yourself. If you want to know what someone eats if he doesn’t eat packaged food, commit to eat no packaged food for a week or so and figure it out. You can do it. Anyone can. Either you’ll have a terrible week of hunger or you’ll find answers that you act on. You’re not going to die. You’ll figure things out. I can tell you from experience that you’ll love what you find out, which will be more than just a list of foods.

Humans have lived without packaging for 300,000 years of human existence except the last few generations and people found ways to make themselves happy. I would say that in the last few generations people have made food more miserable than ever, so you’ll probably find how to make food more delicious. I learned to make mine more delicious, convenient, cheaper, and building more community than any other food experiences I’ve had.

I can’t communicate what I’ve experienced, so answering your question how you wanted won’t help either of us. If you give yourself the experience yourself, you’ll answer for yourself, probably changing and growing in the process.

If you don’t care to act on it, you probably don’t care about the answer enough for me to give you the first answer anyway, so I’ll wait for you to try first and then share after you do it.

Having you learn and create answers for yourself is how I teach. Experience tells me you’ll value that answer more. You’ll learn about yourself, your culture, nature, food, and so on.

Let me know how it goes. The key is that meaningful answers don’t come from hearing someone tell you facts, but you acting. The alternative to packaged food isn’t what you normally eat but removing the packaged stuff. That’s just dregs.

The value is in what you come up with when you decide, “I won’t produce garbage but I’ll also eat as well as before.” Same with not flying. The alternative to flying isn’t to sit in the corner of your room staring at the wall. It’s figuring out what you traveled for and creating that. I love adventure, culture, cuisines, and so on. By not flying, I’ve found those things aren’t “out there,” they’re things I create from “in here.” Instead of passively letting them happen when I travel, I actively create them, through skills I learn.


If you want to avoid polluting, I recommend forcing yourself not to pollute, then figure out how to live as awesomely as ever within that constraint. Answers you’d never find through abstract planning will become obvious through practice.

Step 1: Don’t pollute

Step 2: Make your life as awesome as ever, or more so.

You can do both steps if you try. If you aren’t willing to try, I recommend being honest with yourself that you don’t care as much as you wish you did. Then you can act on the difference between what you say and what you do.

I recommend trying it. In my experience, acting this way has improved my life more than almost anything. Planning and analyzing got me nowhere.

Learn to make Meaningful Connections

with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.


  • Step by step instructions
  • Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
  • An excerpt from my book

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