Friday, June 25, 2010

Missing the point

I am in the UK at the moment on business and due to the reason for my visits the topic of energy reduction  is discussed in every meeting. The UK had introduced a new Carbon Energy Efficiency Scheme that more or less forces major companies to manage their energy consumption in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Energy reduction is not as simple as just switching off the lights when you go home for the weekend, it is basically part of every process that we as human beings are involved in, so every aspect of off our lives have to be looked at to see where energy can be saved. One of the topics that also popped up was the use of paper, plastic or ceramic cups as a means of saving energy. These cups obviously have to be manufactured and eventually disposed of, and the question is which type of cup would be the most "energy efficient" option to use. After all the talking about coffee cups I realized that having another cup of coffee would not be a bad idea at that point so I excused myself from the meeting and headed for the coffee machine to make me a cuppa. At this point I still was not sure which cup I was going to use, seeing that a conclusion on which cup is the most energy efficient had not been reached.

When I got to the coffee machine, my heart sunk into my shoes. I was standing in front of this coffee machine that made my difficult cup decision look like a child's decision between ice cream and vegetables. There was nothing less than 8 different choices of drinks on this machine. But this was not what disappointed me, it was the fact that each one of these drinks were individually packaged in its own little sachet...and a very fancy sachet if I may add. I was just imagining how much energy must have gone into manufacturing these individual sachets, as well as shipping it and finally disposing of them without causing too much damage to the environment . It took me back to my last trip to Luanda where I couldn't find hot water for instant coffee, let alone a coffee machine. Here I was standing in front of a machine that does not only give me 8 options to choose from, but it even opens up the sachet for me and makes the coffee. All I had to do was to make a decision on what I would like to have, press a button and drink. So what is wasting the most energy I asked myself, the manufacturing of a ceramic cup vs a paper cup, or a coffee machine with near human capabilities and fancy sachets?

I don't have a problem with enjoying coffee, or even having options to choose from, but I think that we are looking for the solution to the energy crisis in the wrong places. I think we need to do away with all the luxuries that turned us into lazy consumers and start using our own energy again...human energy. But wait, let me go get another cup of coffee before they junk the coffee machine...

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