Our current economic systems require waste, which is awful. I am convinced that just by tackling wasted energy, water and food seriously and meaningfully at a systemic level by the end of this decade, our journey towards sustainability would be much faster.
The less of these essentials we will be wasting, the more resilient our societies will be, and the more chances our societies have a chance to keep standing. In a world that is getting increasingly dangerous and scary, we should be “all hands on deck” on these issues. This is why I am so proud to actually be part of the energy and sustainability transition.
The French energy transition agency – the ADEME – states that as much as 7 to 13% energy is being wasted. Upon my experience and professionals around me, I can safely say that slashing the 10-15 percent of utter waste and decreasing energy use by a further 10 to 15 percent thru sobriety, conservation and efficiency is feasible in the next few years.
What took place this winter in Europe conforts my opinion: according to recent data from the International Energy Agency, natural gas consumption decreased by 13% this winter in Europe Union. And the EU’s total greenhouse gases emissions fell 2.5 percent despite hydro and nuclear shortage.
Some of it was done because of high prices, but some of it was done because folks adapted their ways of living. The European Commission is reforming and strengthening its EU Energy Efficiency Directive and calls for more efficiency by 2030. There is staggering potential for the next six years and eight months for Europe and other wealthy nations.
Wasted energy is more pollution to our air, our water, our soil. Killing King Coal internationally would happen faster if we dedicated more resources to curbing energy consumption.
Tackling water loss thru networks.
We can’t live without water, yet we keep on wasting it. With the current drought in most if not all of Europe, it’s more than high time that water efficiency became as proeminent in our societies as energy efficiency. It is estimated that in Europe, there is 10% loss thru networks for water. According to a study, “ Water utilities worldwide lose 128 billion cubic meters annually, causing annual monetary losses estimated at USD 40 billion.”.
Rainwater toilet flushing
I imagine that if our societies have not crumbled in ten or 20 years, we will be ashamed that at a systematic level we used perfectly drinkable water to flush our excrements. Despite a staggering potential for resiliency and savings, rain water toilet flushing is currently done at a quasi experimental level and laws are slow to adapt and societies even slower. This could be explained by the fact that at a technical level, rain water toilet flushing is complex to set up as it requires two different water distribution systems to coexist.
Changing agricultural practices
Most of our water consumption comes from agriculture. And most of the water used there goes to plants being fed to animals. Eating less meat would allow us to save vast quantities of water. As an example, according to Foodprint.org, ” A single pound of beef takes, on average, 1,800 gallons of water to produce.” For us metric folks, that’s 6,800 litres of water for just 450 grams of beef ! I really hope you liked that burger. This factoid brings me to the third part of my article :
It has always astonished me that in a world where more than one in ten person (830 Million globally) is facing hunger we are wasting and losing a third of our food. How much embedded energy and water does that represent ? How many folks could have been fed adequately with all this ?
Big Ag is telling us that to feed 10 billion people we need to increase food production : I would have thought that slashing food waste would be a quicker, faster, cheaper answer. Apparently, the World Resource Institute agrees with me.
Additionally, food waste accounts for 8 to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, thus making combatting food waste and loss even more important. That’s why the United Nations have made reducing food loss and waste a priority.
Curbing food waste and using whatever scraps are left to turn into either compost or biogas.
Becoming more efficient and wasting less energy, water and food this decade and beyond have staggering potential to make our socities more resilient, more sustainable