The Chainlink

Biking Green: An Interview with Maria Boustead of Po Campo

Recently, after moving to D.C., I decided to "go green" as much as possible. So I stopped taking Lyft rides, replacing them with an around-town Linus and I replaced my bus trips with a Brompton for my daily commute. I realized with the recent awareness of straw usage and one-use plastic containers, I still have a long way to go to truly be "green". I also realized I'm not alone. Outdoor recreation doesn't necessarily translate to "meaningful conservation". 

I figured if this is something I am struggling with, maybe I should talk with fellow cyclists who are biking and living "green". This brings me to our first Chainlink interview for the series, "Biking Green", Maria Boustead of Po Campo. As a fan of Po Campo bags (and owner of more than a few), I am excited by the launch of Maria's sustainability conversation and couldn't wait to interview her.

Maria Boustead of Po Campo

Industrial designer / entrepreneur

Brooklyn, NY

Tell Us a Little About Yourself

I’m the owner of Po Campo and design our bike bags to help you carry what you need on and off your bike with style and ease. I like biking (duh), reading, traveling, and eating pizza.

Does your profession allow you to positively impact the environment?

Yes, in a way. It’s often called the Designer’s Paradox: There’s arguably already enough stuff in the world, but we keep coming up with more ideas of things to make and then making them. So we have to be as thoughtful and deliberate as possible in what we’re making.

Was there a moment or message or experience you had that inspired you to change your lifestyle?

I grew up in a very want-not-waste-not family and so I’m a reluctant consumer by nature. On the flipside of that, as I’ve built a career in product design and branding, I find that I enjoy buying and consuming a lot more. I appreciate the artistry and creativity in products and goods and want to support people by buying and using their creations. So I’m always kind of seesawing between these two impulses: reuse reuse reuse because that’s more responsible and buy buy buy because that’s more delightful.

5 activities you do in your week in your commitment to the environment? 

  1. Opt for reusable containers rather than sandwich baggies, and cloth napkins instead of paper towels
  2. Biking for transportation
  3. Resuable shopping bags
  4. Make food from scratch to minimize food packaging
  5. No fast fashion ever! Either buy renewed/used clothing or investment pieces that will last a long time

Any major changes you’ve made in the last 5 years in your commitment to the environment? 

I buy more expensive clothing now that I know is made well and will last a long time. I used to be really cost conscious with clothing and didn’t want to spend a lot on it. Now I think of the adage “Beware of the high cost of saving money” every time I see inexpensive clothing. The amount of waste – and unsustainable human energy – to produce that low quality clothing is one of our biggest environmental hazards.

More recently, with my own company Po Campo, I’ve started the Quest for Sustainability to document our journey to create a more sustainable line of bike bags. Our customers use our products for biking for transportation, and one of the reasons they choose to do that is because it’s good for the environment. It seems that our product should also be as good for the environment as possible. Each week I’m addressing a different aspect of what it means to be a sustainable brand.  

Advice to people just starting out? Where to begin?

Replacing car trips that are less than two miles with bike trips! Especially if the trip is on side streets.

 

What words of encouragement would you give someone getting started? Or struggling to stay committed?

Sometimes it can feel like the problem is so immense that there’s not much you can do that will make a meaningful difference. The truth is that every little thing makes at least a little bit of difference so you should take credit for what you do and just try and continue to do a little more of it.

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