A leader does not impose a decision. He molds one.
– TIME, Great People of the 20th Century
This morning I had the pleasure of perusing a nice, big hardcover book, TIME’s Great People of the 20th Century, while I had my breakfast and coffee. It was so nice so have an actual, tangible book to feel in my hands, instead of my usual computer screen. While I’m huge fan of technology — I think of my computer as my baby (no judgment, please!) — there’s nothing that will ever be able to replace real books for me.
The above quote is taken from the book’s essay on the incomparable Nelson Mandela. The phrase really appealed to me, because it has broader implications that move beyond the triumphs of Mandela himself; these simple words convey the essential ingredients that create change-making leaders, whether they’re people, products, or companies.
We cannot dictate to people how to live their lives, or how to help change the world. This is a highly subjective subject, and there is no ultimate right or wrong way to go about living life or making decisions. However, we can mold our own actions and choices to naturally help shape others’. Speaking about our ideas with our peers is essential for action. I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments so far on past posts; they inspire me to dig deeper into my subject matter. A helpful comment from Mandy motivated me to share some more tips I missed the first time. In response to Soil, Soul and Society, she writes:
“I have never been one on wasting water mainly because I don’t like to pay a high water bill. Last year our pipes started to leak so we had to turn our water off, and would only turn it on at night so I could flush all the toilets, do a quick bath, and brush teeth, and once a week to do a load of laundry. I never had really realized how much I depended on water until then. But the good news is that I’ve cut back even more on my water consumption after getting into those habits even though we now live in a place with no leaks. I took the water consumption quiz and scored very low. I was very proud of that accomplishment.”
Congratulations, Mandy! That’s a great achievement, and equally sound advice. The phrase, ‘every little bit counts’ is not only applicable to saving water, but also to our budgets. I’m making an effort to cut back on a few other luxuries in my current life at the moment, so I might as well add this to the list, too! Mandy’s not the only who’s experienced first-hand the benefits of boarding the water conservation bandwagon; the folks who have professional training in the area know all too well the advantages of penny-pinching when it comes to water. Here is some sound advice from professional plumbers on the topic of water usage:
“Perhaps the best way to ‘go green and save green’ is to fix your leaks. Most municipalities that provide water and sewer service calculate your sewer bill by using your water usage as a gauge to determine how much water you’re sending back to the sewer plant. If you’re leaking water needlessly on the floor or ground, you’re paying for it twice.
Getting the best use out of Mother Earth’s water supply is essential to our environment, and even more important to the environment of future generations. Plus, you’ve got the added incentive to save money while you save water. ”
In addition to urging us to fix our leaks, they offered other useful information on purchasing a low-flow toilet, and running the tap water to make it hot before showering. Their informative post also had a smart infographic that helped me to visualize where our water is actually going:
Meanwhile, Caitlin had a useful question about the Soma water filter. She writes, “A Brita does save the environment; this helps people not used bottled water, so why does the soma water filter work better and save the environment more?”
Great point! Thanks for taking the time to ask. Sure, the Brita filter absolutely helps us to reduce our consumption of environmentally harmful bottled water; it’s simply that the Soma water filter is a more eco-friendly choice: not only are we not purchasing bottled water, but the Soma water filter itself is 100% recyclable. In fact, “expired filters biodegrade in commercial composting facilities.” Since one of the key features of any at-home water filter is that we need to change bi-monthly (every 2 months), using biodegradable filters is essential for reducing the amount of waste produced. Brita filters need to be thrown out into the garbage, and their filters are made from artificial materials.
The Soma water filter is labeled sustainable because of this, and it’s all-natural composition: the all-natural filter “is made from Malaysian coconut shell carbon, four layers of fine silk, and a plant-based filter casing.” David Beeman, a filtration expert who has designed filters for other companies like Starbucks, created the Soma filter to “noticeably enhance the taste of your water, making it pure, clean and crisp.” Because of the all-natural materials, no black flakes will occur with the Soma filter.
There are a few other key product differences, which have less to do with the environment, and more to do with function, convenience, and community. A common issue that comes up with the Brita filter is that its lid frequently falls off. This might sound trivial, but for an everyday household product, this can be pretty frustrating. It also speaks to inadequate design. The Soma water filter was designed by some of our best eyes and minds in the industry: Joe Tan and Markus Diebel of Moreless, who made sure that “the lid never falls off thanks to a specially designed seal.”
One of my favorite aspects of the Soma water filter is the subscription service they offer, with free delivery. As soon as it’s time to change your filter, a new one will arrive at your doorstep. When I had a Brita, I used to constantly forget to change the filter. At the time, I was completely unaware of how harmful drinking water from an old filter was; now that I’m aware of the risks, I can see the the importance of ensuring that Soma customers are easily equipped to change their filters regularly.
Purchasing a Soma water filter also means helping someone in Africa gain access to safe, clean water: a portion of every Soma filter purchase goes toward Soma’s partner, charity:water, an organization that uses the money to do amazing things, like visit Ethiopia and change people’s lives:
Design is so much more than aesthetics. It’s about the underlying intent that lies behind the physical appearance. It’s similar to people: we’ve all known someone who is undeniably superficially gorgeous, but lacks the depth to keep us interested or inspired. These people might be fun to hang out with for a few minutes, until we realize we’ve got nothing to say to them, since they’re probably not even listening, anyway. And then there are people who don’t necessarily fit into our society’s narrow-minded, stereotypical view of ‘beauty,’ yet who radiate an amazing energy from inside, making them absolutely stunning to us, and affect us much more deeply than mere aesthetics ever could.
This analogy translates to products, too. Purchasing a mundane item like a water filter could certainly be a fairly superficial process; but with Soma, it becomes akin to entering a new community — filled with people with shared values, who are doing their part in healing our environment, helping other people gain access to water, making it easy for us to keep up with changing our filters, and designing a product that actually looks fantastic, too.
I sometimes find it difficult to make decisions when we have so many options on the table, so I love when other people, and companies like Soma, make it easy for me. Here’s to choosing our own paths, our own products — and to letting our leaders mold us when it feels right, and taking a stand to forge our own path when it doesn’t. Gathering formative information, thinking for ourselves, and using our natural intuition are some of our greatest assets in this life. Live for yourself; no one knows what’s right for you, but you.
In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.
– Eleanor Roosevelt