What a Tornado Taught Me About Sustainability

“Don’t do it. Don’t do it,” I said to the clouds. I was watching the sky like my father watches a football game – hunched forward, talking to it as though it could hear me.

Except I wasn’t much rooting for a team as I was rooting against a team – team tornados.

The clouds I were staring at were cumulonimbus, which means a serious storm was brewing – a classic Texas Tornado (which ironically happens to be my father’s fantasy football team name; but I digress). I remember that faint, cone-like shape in the sky, looking as if someone traced it lightly with a pencil. 

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

My grandmother was making dinner at the time, more concerned with the cabbage than my play-by-play of the almost tornado. Then the winds intensified. It sounded as if we were about to get swallowed whole.

It was at that point that the cyclone was fully-formed and fully outlined.


She calmly walked over to the window and said, “Yup that’s a tornado. Get in the tub kids,” with the same cadence as if she just said “Alright the cabbage will be about five more minutes.”

My grandmother who obviously takes greens very seriously. 

I sprinted to the tub and jumped into it with my hands behind my head – because I think they taught me that in school right? My younger sister, who must have been about 12 at the time, snuggled beside me with a jar of money in her lap.

While she was worrying about her 50 dollar fortune, I was panicking. 

It was the first time I had ever been under an environmental threat before.

I remember thinking, “I am so small. I am so insignificant and powerless. Humans can build all we want but Mother Nature can unexpectedly and indiscriminately DESTROY IT and you.”

I think it was a realization like this that made me an environmentalist. I have a deep respect for the world we live in, and with that respect, comes a deep fear of what it is capable of. Although in that case, the tornado dissipated and we were able to tend to the cabbage shortly after. Of course, it wasn’t the last disaster I experienced.

I’m 23 years old and I’ve been through multiple severe floods, fires, and near-cyclones that sent me straight to the tub once again. 

Climate change is and will continue to make natural threats like this more frequent and more severe. It’s the kind of statistic that makes you want to do everything you possibly can to halt this process. And everything is never enough.

I have a degree in earth science and I know I’m not doing everything I can do perfectly.

Perfection isn’t possible – especially when it comes to fighting climate change.

Everything comes with its pros and cons. For example, if you buy an electric car, you can be proud  of the fact that you have zero-emission transportation…but let’s talk about your electric grid usage. 

I struggle with climate guilt as most of us in the community do. But Kim Collins, a World Champion track and field sprinter said:

And that is how I see supporting the planet. I take issue with the elitism riddled throughout the environmental community. You’ll get fingers pointed at you in certain environmental groups.

“Oh, you eat meat?” “You didn’t take the bus?” “You brought a PAPER notebook to this conference? Interesting.”

It’s the kind of rhetoric that pushes people away from embracing a movement. 

Not to mention, to do the best for your environment right now, you have to pay for it – literally. Most eco products and services are higher ticket, so only people of a certain privileged background can afford to embrace those eco alternatives. Plus, we are tackling all the issues of climate justice, inequality, education, and MORE.

So what we hope to do with Zeeva.eco is stop the finger pointing, and offer a helping hand instead. 

First of all, we will offer low, flat transaction fees so sellers who offer eco-conscious products and services won’t have to increase their prices to compensate. This way, consumers who care can find more affordable ways to do their part. 

In addition, with our acceptance of their imperfections, we will help them become greener – step by step. We realize it’s a process. We won’t deny a seller because of some eco standard we decided was the best.

There is no straightforward, right way to be eco, but we can certainly help sellers make the right steps forward. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean every seller with a supposive “eco product” can get on our platform just because they claim they care. We will filter out the green washers, or those who exaggerate their environmental priorities for a profit, through our application process.

Plus, by making the platform more accessible, we will achieve our mission of supporting the largest and most diverse eco-offering for consumers to browse. This means that consumers will discover new and innovative products they may not even know existed, like reusable Ziploc bags and seed paper.

So, that almost-tornado was part of a wake up call for me – one that humbled me as a human being and showed me that mother nature means business. Let’s change the way we do business with mother nature by adapting our businesses to her needs, which are, you guessed it – our needs too.

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1 comment

  1. Sandra Bloodworth

    You blow me away all the time and I come from tornado alley! Love this article, and you. We old folks can learn from the younger folks that have to live on this planet longer. Thank you.

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