The dilemma: how much should we sacrifice, or ask others to sacrifice for our values? Particularly if the others have different values than our own?
I've been struggling with a decision recently. Not a massive one, but given my current situation a fairly important one. The decision? Whether or not to sign up for green electricity, given the increased cost.
The reason I've struggled with this is that I'm currently unemployed, again, and thanks to stupid depression, that's not likely to change in the near future. The budget is tight, and I'm not the best at sticking with one at the best of times.
While I'm living on minimal income, I've been constantly wavering between going for the cheapest option to make life easier for myself, and picking the slightly more costly option that is commensurate with my values. For several weeks I've gone back and forth depending on my mood and outlook, but finally a couple days ago I settled on doing what I feel is the right thing.
Deciding to go for a green energy scheme, I signed up for Equigas from Ebico and electricity from Good Energy, a 100% renewable energy company.
Now, there were other companies, notably nPower, who also provided certified green energy schemes that would match my electricity usage with 100% renewables and cost a fifth less than Good Energy. So why Good Energy?
nPower are primarily using non-renewable sources for electricity and just topping up with renewable to match my demand.
Good Energy use 100% renewable energy sources and have smaller generators spread throughout the country in hundreds of different areas. Local generators support communities and provide jobs across the country. In addition, Good Energy's hydroelectric power comes from small watermills as opposed to damns which have a questionable environmental impact.
For me, I like the idea of supporting a company that is dedicated to developing green electricity usage and local projects and exclusively uses renewable sources. To paraphrase from their (obviously biased but still valid) literature: it's more like buying from a farmers' market than a supermarket.
As for gas, this is a tough one and still not quite resolved.
I signed up the other day for (non-profit energy provider) Ebico's Equigas. This provides gas at a low flat rate regardless of payment method or usage, which for me as someone using a prepay meter and little gas compared to the national average is very attractive, plus it has a positive social impact by providing more affordable gas. The downside is that there is no mention of the source of the gas on their website, nor of any projects to increase renewable gas production.
Enter Ecotricity. They produce a large volume of their gas from waste products and are developing technology to produce it en masse from natural algae. The downside is the cost is 1.5 times that of Ebico for the amount of gas I would use. Spread over the course of the year that's not the end of the world, and the sums involved wouldn't typically be seen as wallet-busting. However as someone who is striving for financial independence in the long run but who's values drive him to lean towards Ecotricity for it's renewable gas projects, the conflict of ideals is challenging.
My mind is still changeable though. While I am inclined to pick Ecotricity, I am waiting on Equigas to get in touch with me regarding the exact sources of their gas. That will be the clincher either way.
One day I'll be off grid and all this will be a thing of the past. But until then I am struggling to balance my responsibility to the Earth and society, with my responsibility for helping ensure that WIB and I can afford to live while we try to get stable.
Any thoughts, comments and opinions are more than welcome.