When I talk to people about my ambitions to live a sustainable lifestyle – like trying to life zero waste, or making my own shampoo, the response is often that this has no leverage. What good is it if I don’t buy shampoo, but fly once a year. Looking solely at the numbers, the answer is obvious. The shampoo doesn’t matter.
From a mathematical point of view, that is one way to look it at.
Here is another one:
Fractal geometry. Fractal geometry is a field of maths from the 1970’s, mainly developed by Benoit Mandelbrot. Fractals can best be described in examples: clouds, mountains, coastlines, cauliflowers and ferns are all natural fractals. Their forms are irregular and complicate – and for most eyes – beautiful. When you look closely at fractals, you find that within the fractal, it scales down. A tiny section of the coastline is stunningly similar to the whole coastline. A tree is composed of branches which is composed of branches which is composed of branches which is composed of branches… Fractals scale. They are self-similar, which means that the shape looks like itself however much you zoom in or out.
“I find the ideas in the fractals, both as a body of knowledge and as a metaphor, an incredibly important way of looking at the world.” Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, New York Times, Wednesday, June 21, 2000
When I was a kid I believed that the universe, including our earth, is in the belly of a teddy bear. And that teddy bear belonged to a girl just like me, only much bigger. Much bigger. And she again lived in a universe which was in the belly of a teddy bear who belonged to another girl that was even bigger… and so it goes on.
What does this have to do with how we live our life and self-made shampoo?
Looking at our life from a perspective that it scales, zooming in and out, something we don’t understand yet (I am not talking about scaling in a classical business / start-up kind of way). But rather of us being a fractal in something that repeats itself on a larger scale, and even larger scale, the only right thing to do is to think of every action as something that matters. Even self-made shampoo.