April 2021 – Unseriously Sincere Ideas Write-Up #08
Hello, my dear readers. I’ve missed you a many! Well, I’m sure I would if I knew who more of you were. Hit me back, just to chat, truly yours, your biggest fan, this is Jess.
1. The Great Billionaire Body Wash Debacle
The other day I was in the supermarket and Novio said we needed body wash. We have bodies and we like to wash them so it made sense in theory. The only thing is, we usually take our old body wash bottle down to the natural bulk goods store and refill it from the giant body wash vat there. So for me, buying a new bottle in the supermarket that day wasn’t really an option. In my mind, I wasn’t prepared to contribute to the global plastic problem as a matter of convenience. In my mind, I would be taking 20 minutes out of the next day to go down to the local body wash dealers. In my mind, our empty body wash vessel would be refilled by Friday. In real life, however, our bodies went without body wash for another two weeks.
For a full two weeks I had this nagging feeling of knowing I still had to head down the hill to fetch my pail of body wash. Every day I’d move it on to the next day’s to-do list along with ‘call mum’ and ‘start your bloody newsletter’. By the end of week one we’d diluted the hell out of the existing bottle of wash. After that, Novio would politely remind me every other day that our body wash dispenser was still not dispensing. We even dropped into the supermarket a handful more times over that period and I still refused to pick any up. Novio would look longingly down the personal hygiene aisle and I’d remind him about the global war we’re fighting against plastic.
He’s been living with this eco-warrior for a while now, so he chooses his civil war battles strategically. Occasionally he’ll insist on putting our smalls in the clothes dryer. Sometimes it’s not even raining outside! But we need our knickers. So he goes absolutely rogue and I have to fly my white flag and surrender to fresh, warm underwear that day.
We often debate about the realistic impact individuals can have when it comes to saving the planet. And while my argument remains that if every individual behaved 1% better, it would have a significantly positive influence on fixing things up for this flaming hell hole, his argument is that it’d still be better to sacrifice those individual efforts to focus on big climate action initiatives that are innovative, scalable and replicable. His main go-to source of inspiration for this argument is ya mate, Bill Gates.
Gates is said to have been a ruthless businessman who would be as cut-throat as he needed to be for profit. He worked endless hours, took no vacations, barely slept and I can only imagine the trails of plastic body wash bottles he left in his wake.
He is all about optimisation. And conveniently buying new body wash in a supermarket is part of optimisation. Avoiding taking an extra 20 minutes out of your week to buy recycled-bottle body wash is optimisation. Now look at the guy! He’s optimising the hell out of all the money he made and all the technology available. He behaved with tunnel vision earlier in life, now he’s making mega positive changes for humanity. And he takes vacations.
During The Great Billionaire Body Wash Debacle of 2021, I had a billionaire brainwave where this concept really hit home. I like to think I have great ambitions to have a mega positive impact on this world, too, and productivity is one of my highest values. But when I’m allowing myself to suffer minor anxiety over a bottle of body wash for an entire fortnight, it kinda contradicts my beliefs. Sure, sustainability is a high-guy on the value ladder too, but your values need to be fluid enough to work with each other, not against.
So, at the moment I’m try to let up on my militant attitude towards not producing household waste in exchange for more time to focus on building something that 60-year-old Jess can change the world with.
The most exciting part about this is that I get to wear guilt-free tumble-dried smalls. Rain, hail or shine.
2. What do you hate about your default mode?
This whole body wash episode kind of reminded me of how someone’s worst and best qualities are usually the same thing. You know how being really impatient can make someone a pain in the neck when they’re hounding you for an answer, but a real blessing when they just go and get shit done? Or if someone is really competitive, they’ll happily ruin your moment of glory by one-upping you, but on the flipside they’re great to have on your trivia team? Well, my composting habits are like that. On the one hand, I’m saving the planet, on the other, our apartment sometimes smells. People often ask Novio what it’s like to live with an eco-warrior and he’ll tell them it’s a lot like living with a regular girlfriend who turns off taps to preserve water, but I also don’t flush as much.
Anyway, similar to this paradox, is the one where the traits we complain about most in other people are usually the traits we are guilty of portraying ourselves. For example, I tend to think I can spot a narcissist a mile away. I can see the way they manipulate situations. How they refuse to take the blame. How they seek validation. Hold deep insecurities. Deflect in conflict. Look in the mirror too much. And I’m very conscious of these mild narcissistic traits within myself.
Obviously I don’t think I’m an actual narcissist, all stuck up in my inability to see past my own facade. But I definitely have traits which I am not proud of and could spot a mile away if I could get that far from myself.
Most of us are walking, talking contradictions unto ourselves. I tell myself I am compassionate, kind and loving of all humans. A bit like ya boy, Jesus. But in truth, my default does tend to be a judgmental asshole. Which is something I try to work on by avoiding television shows like MAFS.
The fact is, we are all unique and riddled with biases that cause us to judge. These biases, along with our personalities, have been formed by our individual experiences throughout life. Some make for positive interactions, others make for narcissistic personality disorder. All we can really do is try to be better than our default mode.
3. Speaking of being better
I want to talk about Effective Altruism. What is Effective Altruism, you ask?
Well, let’s start with altruism: “selfless concern for the wellbeing of others.”
Basically, being a good egg and helping those in need.
When it comes to charity, and donating money in particular, it’s really hard for us to know where it’s going to be most helpful in alleviating suffering.
This is why it’s so wonderful that Givewell.org has done all the research for us! It’s an organisation founded by two former financial analysts and it conducts rigorous research to determine which charities do the most good with every dollar spent.
“…it costs up to $50,000 to train a guide dog to help a blind person in the developed world. By contrast, surgery to prevent blindness due to trachoma can cost less than $50 in the developing world. In the United States, $7 can buy a book for a schoolchild. In Kenya, $7 can remove parasitic worms from the digestive tracts of 10 children, enabling them to attend school, learn and earn a better living.” Source
This is where I always donate now, knowing my money is going to be most optimised. A lot like somewhere Bill Gates might donate, don’t you think?
I’m going to chuck another $100 into their Maximum Impact Fund right now (I’m doing alright with crypto at the minute). If you want to join me, ya go here.
That’s all from me today, over and out chicos.
Jess from Comfort is for Wimps
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