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Divergence between theory and practice.  



In my personal experience, being a researcher in “energy transitions” and “energy footprint”, I have a gap between consciousness about why we should transit to a new energy model, and if I am really doing real changes in my life.


According to our research, one of the biggest issues in energy transitions is to reduce the energy we consume embodied in products and services during their fabrication process from other countries. This is why, local products and resources consumption (food, textile, electronics…) could be as significant that reducing stationary energy consumption at homes.

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I would be glad of learning from you about how do you deal with it?



5 Answers

Hi Ortiz

That's a really interesting question - thank you so much for posting it!

Can you elaborate on what you mean by this "gap"? Do the changes you have made in your own life reflect your research? For example, do you try to buy only local products now? Have you reduced your energy consumption?

Have other people on this forum experienced a gap or disconnect between their understanding of the issue and the real-life changes they have made?



That's because humans behave not always according to our logic )) 

There is a book called "Thinking fast and slow" elaborating on a difference between "logical economic agents" and "humans". Smoking or overeating are other examples of irrational behaviour. 


Hi Ortiz,

I find the theme very important considering energy efficiency.

The use of local products is a good reason for decreasing the energy consumption due to the transport. It isn't easy to follow this principle. Many products used in everyday life are made in different countries and often they haven't local version...


In the UK crafts seem to have become more popular in the past ten years and more of my friends are buying clothes from charity shops or vintage fairs than previously.  Crafting, recycling and/or upcycling seem to me to be important for the future.  That said, I feel frustrated by the limited availability of clothes and products made in the UK.  We are buying more local fruit and vegetables from the market, as certain ones are not always available from our nearest supermarket - celery, for instance!  'Farmdrop' in the UK seems like a great organisation, selling produce direct to customers from the farmers - so far we can't use the service though, as they don't deliver to our area yet.  So there is generally quite a gap between my willingness to buy local products and their availability. 


Lack of availability, difference in quality, price, and time constraints are the main factors that cause me to make choices that aren't the best for the environment. Another problem is that sometimes it is very hard to know what you should be buying.

For example, if my wife and I are out in the evening and want to come home then we can either choose to take a bus costing £5.60 that will take 35 minutes to get us home and is probably uncomfortable and may have passengers who are drunk or noisy, and there is only one bus an hour and afterwards we have to walk maybe in the rain and through dark areas where there might be trouble. Or we can take a taxi that only costs £7 and takes 10 minutes and takes us to our door and there is no wait for it.

I try not to buy ready-made sandwiches because of the waste they create, but sometimes I don't have time to make my own. Similarly sometimes we end up eating out because I am too tired or busy to cook.

I like to buy local produce, preferably unwrapped, but sometimes the supermarket only sells things in packed in plastic and much of the produce is imported. At the supermarket I mostly use this has got much worse in recent years. I try to visit the market, but sometimes the quality is not very good, the origin of produce is not clear, and it takes at least half an hour longer to do the shopping because I have to walk to the market. I live in a city where all the buses go straight to a bus station in a shopping centre full of imported goods. The market is more than ten minutes walk from there. There are very few independent shops, and even fewer selling locally produced goods. Maybe I could get local produce from a farm shop, but then I would have to drive 5 or ten miles to get to the shop, and actually I don't have a car and there is no bus.

For some items my supermarket has an excessive premium on organic produce. For example onions are 90p/kg. Usually organic onions are £1.20 for three small onions that weigh maybe 350g!! Often organic produce is imported, forcing me to choose between grown in the UK with conventional agriculture or organic but foreign.

Another thing that is very noticeable in my city is that it is much easier to buy fast food or highly processed food than fresh produce. In most areas there are very few shops selling fresh produce, because nearly everyone drives to an out of town supermarket with a big car park. Small shops only sell tins, or very highly processed food with lots of preservatives to make it last a long time on the shelf. So poor people without a car are more or less forced to buy that or fast food from a fish and chip shop or similar place. Sometimes this fast food is incredibly cheap.

For some goods I can buy second-hand very good quality. For example I am typing this on a reconditioned Mac Pro from 2009 which I bought last year for much less than a new Mac with less memory and storage. I'd be willing to buy more things second hand, but mostly this means shopping in charity shops, which don't feel very inviting, and maybe a lot of what is in the shop is not very good. Similarly it's sometimes very hard to get products repaired, and I am sure many people just buy new because they don't realise something can be repaired.