Sustainability vs. Perfectionism

A scale weighing a crown and a small Earth

I started writing this with the intention of making a simple “what I’m thankful for” Thanksgiving blog post (cute, right?) – but as I started writing, I realized there were some things I had to cover first. They tie in pretty nicely with the gratitude-bit, but they’re also things that (I’m sure) apply to almost every other sustainable brand/organization/conservationist out there.

At the beginning of this project, I was just a guy that wanted to use his design skills for the good of the environment. I would make one simple design a day, and pair it with facts about the planet. It was time consuming (it was every day, after all), but it was a passion that I wanted to do in my spare time. After gaining a bit of a following, I felt like the pressure was on, and I pushed myself to create better and better designs (ultimately leading to refining my craft). Even after moving to a not-posting-everyday cadence, it was all about creating quality posts with facts about the planet, wildlife, and environment/sustainability news.

However, in the wake of founding Terrabyte as a company – I have found myself focusing more on getting things “just perfect” before releasing/posting/making something public than actually releasing/posting/making something. It’s like I’m no longer just a creative guy with a purpose but representing the company of my dreams that must simply be the best I can make it. I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist, but now that I’m representing the very future of what I want to create, the perfectionist tendencies are stretched to 1000. Even when posting about progress on Terrabyte projects, it feels like, “if it’s not significant, don’t post about it.”

These perfectionist tendencies aren’t exclusive to new business owners, however: they plague eco-focused companies, environmental organizations, and sustainably minded would-be entrepreneurs as well. The idea of climate perfectionism runs deep in many conservation circles, but the fact is that ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist. Even with eco-focused companies that are making strides in environmentally friendly business practices, ‘perfect’ means that they produce no waste and use no resources, which means creating no products; and not having a physical footprint, which means not physically existing. So, preventing new eco-focused companies from being slowed by perfectionism? Forget about it.

I recently read a blog post by Tom Greenwood which sums it up very nicely – the fear of falling short of environmental perfection CANNOT hold back companies from working towards greener products and services, otherwise they have already failed. We live in a time where we need solutions to many environmental issues, and fast. If we are stuck on getting things “just perfect” before pushing out any progress, it will be too late, and those solutions won’t really matter that much. Greenwashing alertists play an important role in ensuring a cleaner, greener world free of lying mega-corporations – but progress must still be celebrated. Even for those companies that flaunt “Includes post-consumer recycled material” and it turns out that it’s only 30% PCR – instead of shaming them for only using 30%, shame them for their lack of transparency (don’t make me dig for your PCR content). Instead of shaming a company for their carbon footprint as a whole, take note of how it has changed over time, how their products have changed, and what they are actively investing in.

So – what am I thankful for? I’m thankful for even having the opportunity to be here doing this at all. I’ve worked incredibly hard to get Terrabyte to where it is today, and I’m incredibly thankful that the whopping majority of Terrabyte followers see the company for what it is, and not what it isn’t. I’m thankful that it’s not, “you’re doing this, but what about THIS?”; but, “whoa, that’s amazing, keep up the great work!” I’m thankful for the patience everyone has given when it comes to progress on the game(s), when the next Pixel Planet Today post comes out, or when new merch comes to the shop.

I don’t want self-inflicted perfectionism to slow down Terrabyte, so I’m really trying to be more transparent with project progress and climate goals. I have recently taken to using the Terrabyte Mastodon account as a more-or-less update feed/devlog – which not only adds to transparency but makes announcements easier than needing to make a multi-slide Pixel post. That’ll just be reserved for big announcements.

I hope you will continue following me and Terrabyte on this eco-journey. If you ever have thoughts/comments/concerns with the project – PLEASE reach out. I love hearing from you all, in really any kind of capacity. Terrabyte is made up of a very small team (basically me and a couple of others who help with Terrabyte projects), so your support goes an incredibly long way.

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