How we kill innovation around sustainability

August 4, 2022 by Joshua
in Entrepreneurship, Nature

An anecdote reveals how we stifle innovation and entrepreneurship. Regular readers know I lowered my ecological footprint over 90 percent in under three years, improving my life. Governments and corporations can do what I did—once they choose longer to profit from hurting other people by polluting, even if legal.

A reporter profiling me said she wanted to pollute less too but couldn’t figure out what to do about disposable Keurig coffee capsules. She asked: could I help?

(Though I’m not sure it applies in her case, her concern follows a pattern that happens a lot: someone flies around the world on a whim and air conditions unnecessarily, but focuses their attention on something orders of magnitude less impactful and throws up their hands: “what can I do?? I’m stuck on coffee capsules. How could I not fly to Paris?”)

I said, “I don’t drink coffee so haven’t tried to solve that problem, but I can tell you the process for you to. Don’t use it for a while. You won’t die. One of two things will happen. You may stop drinking coffee. If so, problem solved. If not, you’ll see people drank coffee without them for centuries and find a solution. Maybe it will involve a french press.”

She said, “Oh yeah, a friend gave me a french press. It’s in my cupboard. I guess I can use it.”

The moral of this story: How not to stop polluting: keep polluting; how to stop polluting: stop polluting.

No one will die. When we face problems we will solve them. The worst way to learn if we can fly planes across oceans without polluting is to keep flying planes with jet fuel.

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