Could You be Replaced by a Potted Plant?

Potted plant replacement

Sounds like a pretty stupid question, right? Of course you couldn’t be replaced by a potted plant; a plant could never do the things you do!

Perhaps this is true – a plant probably couldn’t drive a car, eat popcorn or play video games as well as you can. And maybe your friends and family would notice if someone replaced you with a plant in the middle of the night.

But if you look at a bigger picture, how much do you really matter to the rest of the world?

Once your time is up in this world, what will you have left behind? Will you have made the slightest impact on the world, or could your entire existence have been replaced by a potted plant without the world even noticing?

Being Better Than a Plant

If you think about it, are you really better than a plant?

I mean, it’s tough competition – plants tend to have a natural positive effect on the environment, thus making the world a little bit better by default. Humans, on the other hand, tend to have a negative impact on the world as a whole.

Your very existence puts you at a disadvantage to that damn plant!

So in order to be better than a plant, you would need to contribute enough to the world to at least make up for your inherent negative impact on it.

But let’s forget about your environmental footprint for a second, and focus on your general impact on the world around you.

Your Net Impact on the World

What is your impact on the world around you? Are you making people’s lives better or worse? Are you only serving your own interests, or are you serving the community? What is the cost of keeping you alive, as compared to the value of your contribution?

Let’s take a look at all the ways you’re probably impacting the world right now:


  • You’re (hopefully) bringing joy to your friends and family.
  • Your job is (hopefully) creating value for society.
  • You’re (maybe) doing some form of volunteer work in your community
  • You’re (maybe) inspiring/teaching/helping others in some way


  • Your consumption habits are most likely having a severe negative effect on the world (especially developing countries)
  • You’re leaving a huge carbon footprint
  • You’re (maybe) spreading hate/prejudice/intolerance to others
  • Your daily life is probably inconveniencing others (simply pressing the stoplight button when crossing the street will bother several drivers)

Add these up and ask yourself: Are your positive contributions to the world around you enough to weigh up for your negative ones?

If not, then why should the world care enough to not replace you with a potted plant?

At least potted plants are pretty to look at.

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Add a Comment
  1. Hi Mathias,

    This writing really makes me think time after time. Although a potted plant is a lower life form than humans that possess an ability to create, at least by default it has positive impact on our earth (this gets me a bit jealous to it!) If you have thought as far as this, your everyday life is certainly extraordinary. After reading your list, I personally hope that I can bring more joy to my family and friends and create greater value for society. I hope you too have increasingly positive net impact on the world. Thank you very much for this super-reminder post!

    1. Hi Yukie!

      I’m glad you found this post useful!

  2. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the
    images on this blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem
    on my end or if it’s the blog. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hmm, I’ve never had anyone experiencing this problem in the past – are you viewing the blog on mobile or desktop?

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