It was energy week at Softness of Things, actually, sustainabilty, energy, waste, composting week at Softness of Things. We talked about what all this environmentalism stuff means, the ideas that are out there, some things that you can do, some things you can’t do, and most importantly, what we all think we can do. I guess I have been entirely indoctrinated by Pliny Fisk while working on the Solar Decathlon, because all I can think of on the subject is embodied energy and ‘carbon life cycles.’
As for my response to ‘energy’ this week, I didn’t make a physical thing for once… I made an idea/image thing: an EER label. After thinking about my energy in my life, I discovered that I have no real way to make informed decisions about the products and foods I buy. Thats a shame because the information is out there. Embodied energy data and carbon footprint data exists for most things we buy (at least roughly), but there is no way to get at that info… especially at the time of purchase. So I did what the FDA did a while back, I made a energy version of the ‘Nutrition Facts’ label. My label displays a product’s EER or Embodied Energy Ratio (which I made up… but kinda exists), its manufacturing location, and its carbon footprint. I was surprised in my research to find that there is actually a ISO standard for calculating carbon footprint, and close to that sort of standardization for embodied energy… so all the info is out there; we just need our government to implement a program that makes producers display that data-just like Nutrition Facts. You can find my label proposal HERE.
As a second activity for Softness, we individually kept a log of all the waste we produced during the week. I found out I flush the toilet a lot. Earth day should jump on an idea like that, maybe send out cards to fill out for a week; it really made me take note of the things I throw away. It made me wonder though, what can I really learn from my habits? One habit I would maybe change is: bringing a cup to ITP to use over and over again, instead of using plastic cups and throwing them away-but would that really be better? What uses more embodied energy? We need a way to know.