Powered by sustainable energy doesn’t equal sustainability

Just because a product is powered by sustainable energy does not make it sustainable. Consumable energy is a scarce commodity, regardless of how it is produced. We have to be very mindful of how we consume it.

Take the World Cup in Qatar making many sustainability claims. Let’s not forget it took an incredible amount of energy and resources to build this (almost) single-use infrastructure.

A company in The Netherlands claims to sell ‘planet saving water’, because they use solar power to desalinate seawater. Clean drinking water is already available from every tap in every Dutch home. Besides, the existing water infrastructure is much more sustainable than water sold in packaging.

Boom Supersonic plans to build the first post-Concorde supersonic passenger plane. Their plane is to serve a happy few that want to gain a few hours. It is supposed to be sustainable because it’s powered by Sustainable Aviation Fuel. It’s not. Subsonic flight consumes only a fraction of energy per passenger compared to supersonic flight. Also, we are far from having enough sustainable aviation fuel.

All three products are powered by sustainable energy. Yet, all three only add to humanity’s footprint that wreaks havoc on Earth’s ecosystems.

It’s a shame to waste precious clean energy. Let’s stop calling these products sustainable. At best, their sustainability measures make them a little less bad.

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