I read a report the other day outlining the reasons why living alone is bad for the environment. As someone who lives alone, did it make me rethink my current living situation? Simply put: no.
I completely understand and respect the premise of the article. People who live alone, the researchers explain, are the biggest users of energy, and because of this, we are creating an “environmental time bomb.”
The researchers, hailing from the University College, London, published a report in the journal Environment, Development and Sustainability, explaining that the dramatic increase in the total number of young people living alone is quite possibly going to cause a resource consumption crisis in England and Wales.
They furthered this by explaining that these findings should be taken into consideration by everyone. After all, it’s bound to affect everyone around them.
The thing is, single-person households are increasing rapidly. As someone who lives alone, I can venture this is because living with roommates and other people can be, well, pretty inconvenient. When I want silence, I want silence. When I want to cook, I want the kitchen. I don’t like to share. So a single-person household is just for me.
So yes, I’m part of the rise in the younger one-person households… of which are allegedly impacting our planet.
The study noted that the number of one-person households in the UK has increased significantly over the last 30 years. In 1971, the number was just shy of 18 percent; in 2011, it was 30 percent. Experts predict that come 2026, we’ll hit 38 percent.
The issue lay in the facts that, according to the research, those who live in a one-person household are the biggest consumers of energy, household, and land goods. Washing machines, refrigerators, televisions, and steroes are among the household goods that we waste. Further, us single dwellers use 38 percent more products, 42 percent more packaging, 55 percent more electricity and 61 percent more gas per capita than the average four-person household.
When it comes to waste, it gets even worse. The average four-person household produces about 1,000 kilograms of waste per person annually, while those living alone use 1,600 kilograms of waste. As a result, more carbon dioxide is created, too.
Now, I’m not sure how many people were studied here, but I’ll tell you this: my waste is pretty minimal. Living by myself, I recycle and compost daily, have thrown out trash less than 5 times (literally) in three years living here, and consciously try to be greener products and packages. I believe that these numbers can easily be inaccurate; how do we know how the the consumer is shopping and what they have in mind?
Because the study points out that the majority of one-person dwellers is between the ages of 25 and 44 and, probably, never married, they are pointing out that this demographic is more careless about the environment. These people spend 39 percent more on household goods, consume 13 percent more energy, and use 6 percent more space than one-person dwellers over the age of 60. (Really).
The study continues with ideas on how to make this trend fixed. Now, I think that most people are already moving in this direction: basically, be a little more eco-friendly. But they also go on with (what I think is) absurb ideas: collaborative lifestyles, such as co-housing, is one of them.
Co-housing? Are you kidding? I’d rather just turn down the heat, scrub my house with baking soda, use reusable bags, compost, and reduce my meat consumption (all of which I already do).
To add to this matter, the report also urges the British government to introduce an occupancy tax on the inefficient use of household space, and further suggests building more resource-efficient ecological homes, assuming that folks will want to invest in these because, after all, we’re “wealthy enough” to live on our own.
So what do you think? If you’re a single person dweller, do you think you’re making our planet’s health even worse?