As with any plan that seeks to make a change, whether it is losing weight, saving money or reducing your ecological footprint, the first thing you need to know is what is the current situation, the reference or starting point from which we shall take action.
If I was to lose weight (which I should, damned lock down!) I would get on the scale, write down the result, 87 kg, and after getting a bit upset, I’d set a reasonable objective: my former weight, 83 kg.
It is important to have a starting point and a goal, so in between you can design a plan to put into action. Okay, 4 kg need to go, bye bye. The plan: eat less doughnuts and swim an hour every day.
When it comes to saving the planet, though, the thing is not so simple. We can’t use a scale to measure how much energy we use, how much plastic we dump or how much fuel we consume. But we can make an estimate calculation. If there are guys out there that calculated how much does the Earth weigh or how many stars exist, I am pretty sure we can get at least an approximation of what our ecological footprint looks like.
There are some online calculators in the net, but I haven’t yet found one that is able to be personalised, so I am going to try and do my own, brave me.
I decide that the first thing I am going to investigate is my electricity, and how I am going to put that into the calculator. It seems quite straightforward to begin with: our electricity bills should show you how many kWh you use, so I figured out that through some research, it would be easy to convert those kWh into CO2 tons.
Of course, it wasn’t.
Because electricity can be produced in many ways, depending on the source of it, the impact can be very different.
It is not the same to burn fuel than to harvest sun energy through solar panels, in example. If that wasn’t enough, there are other impacts to consider too, like those derived by the installations: hydroelectric in the middle of rivers, windmills in the landscape…
But let’s not overcomplicate this, as that is precisely what will stop us from making any progress, let’s just focus on the CO2 numbers for the time being.
I changed my electricity supplier some months ago looking for a cleaner energy one, so I start by checking the invoices of this last clean one (www.somenergia.coop) and comparing them with the former one. The kWh of course are the same, and that is still something I have to work on, but the information I find in it is stunning.
My old electricity supplier is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, electricity companies in my country. It is the typical company we’ve seen around all our lifes and which I contracted without even thinking about it in the past by pure inertia.
Well, here is the thing: according to its own information, shown in the invoice (I guess it was compulsory), in a scale from A to G, being “A” the cleanest, coming from renewable sources and G the most pollutant, this company lets me know that only a 4,9 % of its energy comes from renewable sources and therefore its category is F, which makes me think of that word!! Even the national average is quite better, category D.
Then I go and check my new supplier’s invoice and of course, confirming the reason why I chose them, their category is “A”: 100 % of its energy comes from renewable sources.
So, before I’ve even made any calculation, I can clearly see that my ecological footprint must’ve gone down a great deal, and the economic cost of it was practically the same!
This new supplier is an electricity cooperative, meaning that to be their customer, you actually have to become a member.
As International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) explains, “Cooperatives are people-centred enterprises owned, controlled and run by and for their members to realise their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations. Profits generated are either reinvested in the enterprise or returned to the members.” To find out more https://www.ica.coop/en.
So apart from being ecofriendly, these companies are extremely transparent and democratic. What occurs to me reviewing these figures is:
Why isn’t everyone contracting their energy from these 100% clean companies?
Surely you want your children, if you have any, and yourself, to live in a cleaner and cooler world, where nature is ever present, don’t you?
I wouldn’t strictly call this the first step in my Alliance with Nature, as I have done many small moves for many years in the past, but I will state that it is a very important one, considering that home energy is the cause of 40 % of climate change, according to the United Nations Environment Program.
What can you do NOW to start reducing your ecological footprint?
I suggest you now, this minute, grab your calendar.
What are you waiting for?
I said NOW.
Whether you usually use your phone or a paper classic agenda, look for one single hour in the next three days and consider it as if it was a doctor appointment; you wouldn’t miss it, would you?
Now, when this hour comes, this is your homework:
- Look for your last electricity invoice, whether online or in paper (if in paper, asking your supplier not to send you paper invoices anymore, but email it instead, is a great way of saving resources and reducing waste)
- Check if it informs you of the source of your energy
- If it doesn’t, check your supplier’s website or contact them to ask for the information
- Look in Internet for other suppliers in your country and look for the source of their energy.
- Don’t overthink: if you find a greener supplier, make the decision to switch!
I’ve learnt that in order to evolve we need to go one step at the time, slowly but consistently. Would you go vegan and start running marathons tomorrow morning for losing weight?
Results will only come if you pick a reasonable pace, set yourself achievable objectives and DO NOT GO RADICAL, as this will most likely lead to eventually hitting a wall, discouraging yourself or even others around you.
Finding the balance with Nature is a matter of shifting our beliefs.
It’s only one hour of homework for this week.
Please e-mail me or leave a comment letting me know how it goes:
What information do your electricity bills contain? From which country?
See you soon, Nature Allies!