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Plastic Free July

The Big Lessons My Parents Taught Me

The Big Lessons My Parents Taught Me

At Pela, we use the phrase believe in better as a guiding mantra for building and growing our business. We also use it to guide us in our daily lives. To us, believing in better means to stay curious, to ask questions and to keep evolving. It means we do not accept the status quo— especially if the status quo causes harm to our communities and the environment. No short-term gain is worth this.

We look for a better way because we believe there can always be a better way.

Often I am asked, where does my love for nature come from and why did I choose to go the environmental route with my career.

It doesn’t take long before I start telling stories from my childhood. I am very lucky to have parents who instilled in me some important lessons that helped shape the person I am today and inspired the eco-friendly mission behind Pela.

Here are just a few I’d like to share:

Explore New Places

My parents had a motorhome growing up. They would pack up the family and we would head out to a lake almost every weekend in the summer. I remember how exciting it was to find new lakes and explore. To this day, I still get excited looking for new places to explore with my own family.

When you get out and see these nooks and crannies in nature, you feel connected to these places and it’s hard to not feel a responsibility to protect them.

Leave the Campsite Cleaner Than You Found It

Whenever we would be packing up to leave a campsite, I would find my dad picking up our garbage AND other people’s garbage. I remember as a kid asking him why he was picking up other people’s garbage and I never forgot what he replied.

“If I don’t pick it up, who will?”

I think of this every time I pass a piece of garbage. Then I stop and pick it up.

Be the First one to Say Hi & Ask Questions

My dad is always the first one say hi to a stranger and strike up a conversation. Through watching him do this over the years, I’ve learned smiling is contagious and you can learn something from everyone you meet.  This is what makes a great community and helps remind me that we are not alone on our journeys.

Jeremy Lang, co-founder of Pela, waterskier extraordinaire (just kidding, but that's me in the middle of my two sisters!)

Be Active

You can sit on the beach or you can get out on the water—and let’s face it, it’s definitely more fun on the water. My mom, dad, two sisters and I all waterski. We spent countless hours on our boat together growing up. Laughing, learning, seeing each other fail and improve—these were awesome memories for me.

It’s still an activity we all love and make time for. Even my dad who is now over 70!

Make your Bed

Of course this lesson is a fairly common one but has had a lasting impact on me even as an adult. Once I asked my mom, “Why do I have to make my bed when it just gets messy again every night?” Fair question, right?

“Because it feels good to accomplish something first thing in the morning and get a fresh start to the day.”

Sometimes it’s these simple habits that make a world of difference. This helps remind me that to get things done or to make an impact, the solution doesn’t have to be complicated and that all the little things do add up.

And Last but Not Least: Have Fun!

Now having fun may not have much to do with being an entrepreneur or creating eco-friendly products, but it might be one of the most important things of all.

My mom did not want me to be a wallflower, if people were dancing she’d encourage me to go join them. I am still not a huge dancer, but she was right, it was always more fun to join than to watch. Now I try to always have fun with family and friends, playing the guitar and singing together, and sometimes I even dance.

We all know that life can get complicated from time to time and wanting to make a difference can feel like an uphill battle. During these moments, I dig for one of these life lessons from my childhood and I keep pushing forward one day at a time.

Thank you mom and dad.