Energy is everywhere. In everything we buy, eat or use.
Sometimes the pain in our purse is immediate: “Heck, do I have to fill the car up again?”
Sometimes the energy waste can be seen at a glance: “Green beans. Country of origin: Kenya.” Thanks to duty-free kerosene. “Thanks but no thanks. I’ll grab some local veggies.”
Sometimes it is less obvious: tomatoes hauled by truck from faraway, sunny Spain or from gas-heated greenhouses around the corner—which is more earth-friendly?
Food gives us energy, but producing and transporting food also uses up energy.
A diet of 2250 kcal per day in line with the US’s MyPlate or the UK’s Eatwell Plate can be produced for about 2.6 kWh per year. That is slightly below the amount of energy we use to heat our homes all year round.
In practice, however, our diets take up to 4,000 kWh per year, thanks to all sorts of irresistible options that companies bombard us with. (These figures are courtesy of Saskia van den Muijsenberg of biomimicryNL.)
The food and drink we consume therefore cost more energy than our home heating and hot water combined. It doesn’t have to be this way, though, if only we buy consciously.
So: Try local. Stick to seasonal. Select frozen food shipped by boat over flown in fresh food. Cut your veggies yourself at home rather than buying a bag of vegetables washed and cut by factory machines that run on gray or green electricity.
Yet, in the end it is about much more than a pile of facts and some smart actions…
The smarter and greener our production becomes, the more we will inadvertently consume. The phenomenon of more efficient production leading to cheaper products, more demand and thus even more production, is known as the “Jevons paradox”, after the British economist who described this mechanism back in 1865 based on his observations of the consequences of more efficient use of coal emerging at the time.
Despite investments of hundreds of billions of euros in greener production, our use of energy, water, raw materials and our greenhouse gas emissions have only increased in recent decades…
We should be able to stop this! Even reverse this! But how?
Breaking down or reversing this pattern may be easier than we think. It simply starts with you and me, not with the government or the system.
For, after our basic needs have been satisfied, a fourth holiday or a tenth pair of shoes add little value, as economic and psychological research shows.
Our brains and bodies are always switched on, from our news updates at breakfast to chillaxing with a movie late at night. While all that we want is to be unplugged. Slow living. Mindfulness. Authenticity. Experience.
Unplug from the rat race, plug into life—that’s what we’re looking for.
Heck, those precious things often cost the least energy!
So, go make that pizza yourself instead of ordering one. Make it with your housemates using whatever’s in your fridge and cabinets. It’ll definitely be unique and unrepeatable.
Practice patience. Wait until the strawberries are back, or leek or mandarin oranges. Discover the flavours, joy and sense of seasonal food.
Play a board game instead of watching Netflix again.
Make a (Christmas) present instead of buying something.
You’ll discover the magical fact that using less energy often gives more energy!
Not everything is measurable in the Scone app. We can calculate and report your energy savings in the app. But the positive energy you get from doing yourself, together, less or differently because it’s more sustainable and feels good - we unfortunately can’t measure that yet.
So share on the Scone app not only what sustainable challenges or actions you are doing, but also how it feels. Mindful? Self-actualization? Pride? Connection? The Scone community would love to hear your experiences.
Because: less is more, even when it comes to energy.