Baby steps

All Square began their buildout work today. It began with the reconstruction of a wall between the two storefronts — after many long months, visible progress has finally begun!

Progress continued in other ways, as well: after a slough of strong applications over the weekend, we sent out some interview invitations and will continue with that process over the next week or two. It’s exciting to ponder how our team will grow and what we’ll be able to accomplish as we add new talent…

On the carbon footprint front, there have also been some changes. Perhaps the biggest one? I’m noticing: noticing what I’m eating. Noticing when I’m driving. Paying attention to opportunities to do things differently, and pondering the sorts of systemic supports that might help me make these changes more viable, more rapidly. One of the biggest challenges for me is time: I still have more on my plate than I can possibly accomplish each day, To be honest, having food in the same building as the shop (and specifically, veg and vegan options that are tasty and easy-to-access) will be huge for my particular set of circumstances.

I’m also talking about what I’m learning – and from a social standpoint, I trust that this has untold tiny impacts: lots of folks don’t even know that such thing as a footprint calculator even exists, so when I talk about it, I’m hearing curiosity(!)… as friends and acquaintances begin to assess their own lifestyles within the context of sustainable behaviors in general – and this tool in particular, I hope we can all be kind to – and honest with – ourselves as we face the data and then figure out what to do with it.

In the last two days, I’ve made some small tactical adjustments that have been both healthier for me and the planet — somehow, it’s easier to justify doing it for the planet than it is to justify doing it for myself (something I’ll need to unpack another time). I know going cold turkey won’t bring lasting change, but I also know that incremental changes add up – and that tracking streaks can be helpful, too.

Increments:

1 round trip walked instead of driven: reduced vehicle use and increased physical activity.

1 phone and computer left at the shop overnight: reduced tech use and increased sanity.

I chose to drink a big glass of water rather than pouring a glass of wine last night: lower impact + emissions and arguably healthier choice (note that this is not listed under ‘streaks’ tonight for a reason…).

Streaks:

I extended a meat-free stretch to three days. I don’t typically eat a whole lot of meat anyway, but I frequently find myself hungry away from home, and given tight finances, I almost always order whatever is least expensive without regard for what’s in the order. Yesterday, I opted for a lentil soup instead of a chicken chili while working from a neighborhood coffee shop. It didn’t cost any more (so that helped), but also: any fear I had about it not being enough to satisfy my hunger was quickly put to rest.

I’ve gone two days without coffee (it should be noted that this was necessary after a four-cappuccino-binge on Sunday that left my chest tight – I’ve been so used to drinking shop coffee in high doses that I neglected to run the espresso factor before putting them back in sequence). This two day break, then, is arguably a smart decision given how my body manages caffeine, but unlikely to be a permanent streak given the shop’s coffee setup.

Overall note: I’m not tracking itty bitty details or trying to calculate exact data here — instead, I’m choosing to apply the data I already have: beyond travel, housing, and energy choices, most of our human-oriented carbon impact lines up effectively with manufacturing processes, so I can have impact by choosing to pay attention to the lifecycle factors and manufacturing processes required to produce the things I consume.

What I’ve found in my 10+ years of tending to (and sometimes ignoring) my own carbon overreach is that exact data is not critical if one can make decisions based on an honest, holistic sense of how things are made and how we contribute to manufacturing systems and the demand that drives them.

Context is everything – as usual.

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