Sunday, September 30, 2007

Consumer Consequences

I just played the consumer consequences game at, and I am ashamed to admit that I scored 7.6. That means that if everyone lived like me, it would take 7.6 Earths to provide the necessary resources.

The most glaring aspects of my life, according to this test (nee game), are my house, my power consumption, and my driving habits.

The way the test works is you start with a score of 1, and as you answer questions your score is increased or decreased, depending on your responses.

The house... I live alone in a single-family house that is listed at 1734 sq. ft. Right off the bat, that cost me an additional Earth. My score was then 2. Well, if you want an explanation as to why I live alone in a 1734 sq. ft. house, it's because I consider it an investment, both personal and otherwise. It's an old house, built in 1909, which I enjoy restoring and improving, so I consider it a financial investment. I also believe it is an investment in the revitalization of the city of St. Louis, which is a movement that, as it's realized, should naturally consolidate people, infrastructure, and resources back into a centralized framework, thus it is a green movement.

Next on the test, the amount of money I spend on electricity and natural gas jacked me up to 4.4 Earths. Ouch!! But I want to know what the heck is up w/their state average for Missouri! According tot his test, the average Missourian pays $22.47 per month for electricity, and $16.56 for natural gas! WTF!? Seriously!? Man, I am using WAY too much electricity and gas. Even after finagling the numbers, to show what my consumption would be if I totally green-ified my house, and cut my costs down by 25%, I'd still be looking at a score of 3.8.

Actually, after playing w/these number, I found a bug. I was trying to figure out how much I would need to reduce my bills by to be flush, and it turns out even if I pay $0 for both my power utilities, I would still incur a penalty, unless I indicate that $0 as being spend on more than 65% renewable energy resources... duh. However, that doesn't really affect my score... just something I noticed.

How do I make my electricity and natural gas come from renewable energy resources? By definition, natural gas cannot be renewable, but if I could, I would gladly heat my house w/something renewable. Unfortunately, even though my house is heated by radiators, heating the water by solar power is beyond my means. By my estimates, it would cost about $15,000 just for the equipment, and that's not even considering the costs of retrofitting my house with it, and where would the PVC panels go? I don't know... maybe it's worth another investigation. As far as I know, there is only one power grid available to me to suckle on in St. Louis, and it's powered by coal.

Given these facts, my questions is this: would I have a more beneficial impact on the world if I focused my energy on pursuing more efficient coal plants for my region, or making the investment in some sort of green heating (and possibly cooling) source for my house?

Obviously, if I do neither, I'm not helping anyone, and possibly committing a sin of any or all of the following: sloth, gluttony, greed, disrespect for God's creation, hypocrisy.

I heartily recommend you take the Consumer Consequences test! I promise you will be shocked at the result. I don't personally know anyone who could get a 1 or below on this test. It would take a very disciplined an energetic individual. Frankly, it makes me feel a little hopeless, because I don't know if I can live up to the standard this test is implying must be met. I have moved so far away from my family, that I must essentially cut myself off from them, or give up my job and move back to the east coast, if I'm to reduce my annual mileage to an adequate level. Likewise, I need to sell this house and move into a small efficiency that is within biking distance of where I work, which would not be so bad if my company had not moved my office from downtown to the soul-sucking suburbs. I do NOT want to live in Sunset Hills. That place is big-box central... OK, self, don't get me started.

We obviously need to make some improvements in our lifestyles to make this a sustainable world. I'm just going to start doing the best I can by getting some recycling bins, finding ways to improve the efficiency of this house, and investigating a different way of commuting to work (including working from home).

No comments:

Blog Archive