‘Imperfect triers welcome’ – that’s the philosophy behind CoGo, an app that helps consumers find ethical businesses. Their website quotes a ‘zero waste chef’ who says, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly”. CoGo echoes this in its message to customers – perhaps trying to show that it’s not preachy and judgmental about our decisions, but rather encouraging-yet-realistic – and therefore open to a much wider consumer base. “You don’t need to be committed to going zero-waste or vegan to join CoGo,” they write, “you just need to be looking to switch some of your purchases over to more sustainable and ethical businesses and in time, hopefully, we can help you increase the % of your spending that goes to businesses that match your values.”
The concept feels apt, partly because I’ve been working on a long feature about how social enterprises can/should respond to climate change, and a key question is whether doing the best one can given limited resources is enough – or whether doing small things just lets us off the hook making radical change. (I don’t have the answer.)
It’s also a philosophy that could easily apply to other aspects of life: do something imperfectly enough times, and you’ll gradually get better at it. For creatives, trying imperfectly for years is practically a requirement of the job – but it’s so, so easy to forget that, and to be stunned into doing nothing because the work you’re producing still disappoints.
The wonderful ceramics class anecdote from ‘Art and Fear’ illustrates this point beautifully. Read it here (I’m linking to the artist Austin Kleon’s tweet, because he’s the one who introduced me to the story). And then go make some badly-formed pots.