Understanding the Cost of Consumption: The “Magical Hexagon”

Understanding the Cost of Consumption: The “Magical Hexagon”

In Germany, every 6th grade student learns about the Magical Hexagon in economics, which symbolises the six economic policy objectives that are to be achieved simultaneously and to the same extent, in theory:

  • Steady and appropriate economic growth
  • Environmental protection
  • Fair distribution of income and wealth
  • Price level stability
  • High employment
  • External economic equilibrium

The “magic” about these six goals is that they are supposed to be of equal importance to each other, but are also in conflict with each other, hence they cannot all be achieved at the same time.

For example, meeting the goal of “economic growth” will make it impossible to simultaneously achieve the goal of environmental protection.

Hence, when we hear politicians talk about their desire to protect the environment while at the same time talking about growing the economy, we need to understand that these are conflicting goals and cannot be achieved simultaneously.

In North America we have certainly been prioritising economic growth “at all costs” and centralised riches in the pockets of a few. The cost of this economic growth we pay in environmental degradation and an unfair distribution of income and wealth. So, the Magical Hexagon is not balanced and we are all already starting to feel the impact of that.

Interestingly, when the environment has been degraded beyond repair, the economy will naturally collapse, because a wacky climate will impact our production and distribution systems, which will hamper the economy as a result. The same result will hit us if we keep “centralising all riches in the pockets of a few.” This will erode away the middle class and once the tipping point between rich and poor has been reached, there won’t be any “consumers” left for the products the rich produce.

So, it is time to embrace the concepts of the Magical Hexagon here in North America and aim for a balance between the environment and our economy (as well as fair and equal distribution of wealth). This is the only way forward.

Either one of these objectives can be achieved by reducing our consumption. So, replace the mantra you learnt in school (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), with the mantra of the day: REDUCE, REDUCE, REDUCE.

The High Price of Convenience

The High Price of Convenience

Fast food, drive-throughs, smart devices,… our craving for convenience seems to be endless and companies are spending millions of dollars every year to identify and create new ways to satisfy our addiction to convenience.

While we think of convenience as “meeting our needs,” it is nothing more than instant gratification of wants. A gratification that comes at a high price. So, let’s explore the cost of convenience and how we already are and will be paying for it in the future.

Table of Contents

Convenience vs Energy Consumption

“Alexa, are you listening?”

Smart devices are “always on” and waiting for our command. Besides the obvious privacy and security concerns (mentioned below to close the loop), they also suck a lot of power off the grid. Any device that is on standby or idle consumes electricity (sometimes up to 10%).

So, let’s talk about power for a little bit. In British Columbia and Québec, where most of our power comes from hydroelectric power plants, we may not think about our electrical consumption as much. However, the more power that is used, the most power needs to be generated, and this doesn’t happen through magic.

This is why new plants, such as the Site C Dam in BC, end up on the agenda to meet our ever-growing demand for electricity. Building a hydroelectric power plant has a massive impact on the environment, even though it may seem like a “clean” and “renewable” energy source. Vast amounts of forests have to be cut along the waterways that lead to the dam, so that the trees won’t end up in the dam and thus damage the structure, and often the construction includes the rerouting of waterways. In addition, it hurts wildlife who rely on the free flow of the river, such as salmon who wish to return to their spawning grounds to give birth to their next generation. Lastly, producing (and later decommissioning) a power plant requires massive amounts of energy itself, as well as large amounts of building materials, which themselves have to come from somewhere. Concrete, which is the main building material for dams, has a massive environmental impact that should not be neglected.

All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when we use electricity. If we absolutely have to use electricity, it should be done in a mindful manner, not in a wasteful way, “just because we can”…

And the impact gets even worse when electricity is being produced through dirty energies, such as oil, gas, and coal. Besides toxic waste products during the production, operation, and decommissioning, these also release great amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere every single day.

So, next time you leave the lights on when leaving your home or have a smart device idle in the background, ask yourself if this is worth the true, environmental cost of the energy production.

Convenience vs Privacy / Security

Whenever the topic of privacy and security comes up during a conversation around convenience, there’s a large group of folks who instantly jump on the “I have nothing to hide” bandwagon, so let’s clear up a misconception here. “Nothing to hide” is often the first step to identity theft. Convenient apps or smart devices can get you hacked and your identity compromised in no time. Consider that some apps are created with malicious intent, which can especially be true for those that record keystrokes and GPS locations. So, be on the lookout and consider carefully if the app you’re about to download or the device you’re about to install (ironically, this includes security cameras) is indeed safe and secure.

Convenience vs Environment

It sure is convenient to order “stuff” from Amazon but this little trinket you just ordered may be speeding up global warming. How? Let’s see.

Assume, we’d like to order a smart device from Amazon, such as Amazon Echo.

To have this device produced, a large amount of “natural resources” need to be mined, from oil (to create the plastic casing), copper, solder, iron, ferrite, nickel, silver, gold, palladium, and other metals for the circuit board, and many more. Each component is shipped many times from distributor to distributor halfway around the globe during the production process and then finally to distributors across Canada for their final journey: To your home.

Normally, you may be buying this item along with other items during the same shopping trip (one trip). If you order all of these items separately, however, they’ll be shipped from warehouses across Canada to your home (many trips). Each package also uses up natural “resources,” such as trees for the cardboard box and oil for the foam packaging material, and each box takes up more room in the delivery plane or truck than a whole palette that is being shipped to a store near you.

No wonder, then, that transportation accounts for 25% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

And that’s just for the acquisition. When this device eventually breaks down beyond repair after a couple of years, the device will likely be shipped to an electrical graveyard in a third-world country, where we’re told it will be recycled, which is, in most cases, a lie. Components that consist of multiple fused materials (e.g. metal and plastic or various plastics together) cannot be recycled but even if they could be, it is often cheaper to produce new plastic than to “recycle” old ones.

All that, so that this smart device can turn on the lights for you remotely or look up the answer to a question you may pose.

So be mindful about what products you buy and how you buy them. Lowering our environmental impact requires weening ourselves of convenience.

Happy Earth Day wishes the WasteLess Society Team

What can we do to fight climate change on an individual level?

What can we do to fight climate change on an individual level?

Already today but certainly increasingly in the future, climate change is impacting our natural environment, food sources, and infrastructure across the globe. The magnitude of these effects is growing every year and there is an increasing awareness that drastic actions on an individual basis are just as needed as on a governmental and corporate level.

We can, to some degree, influence our governments by electing leaders that we feel truly represented by and through petitions and demonstrations. And we can, to some degree, also influence corporate actions through boycotts, buycotts, and choosing our employers carefully.

But a shift needs to happen for each and every one of us, if we wish to guarantee a livable planet for future generations.

Last month, the IPCC published its Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability report, which features a dire outlook for our future. So, for those of you who are not too eager to read a 3,600+ pages report, we’re summarising the key findings below and finish this article with a Top 10 list of actions each one of us can start making a habit. The faster we advance by limiting our consumption and becoming a WasteLess Society, the better the chances for survival will be for the children that grow up today.

Please join our WasteLess Society in this endeavour and as always, feel free to share our resources

Even though creating the Guides is very labour-intensive, we make them available for free to speed up learning in our communities to give you and your loved ones everything you need to make better, WasteLess decisions. You can thank us by spreading the word! 

Table of Contents

What is the IPCC Assessment Report?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its objective is to provide governments, organisations, and individuals with scientific information to form a baseline for climate action and the development of climate policies. Every few years, the IPCC publishes a report with an update on the current state of climate change and prognosis for the future.

1990 (FAR): The first of these reports was published in 1990 and played an important role in the creation of the UNFCCC, which is the key international treaty to reduce global warming.

1995 (SAR): The second report formed a methodological base for governments preparing for the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

2001 (TAR): The Third Assessment Report again highlighted the impacts of climate change and the importance for adjusting policies and behaviours.

2007 (AR4): The fourth report focused on the need to limit global warming to a maximum of 2°C.

2014 (AR5): This fifth report supplied an important scientific base for the Paris Agreement in 2015, which aims to keep global warming by 2100 to below 2 °C, with 1.5 °C as a target.

2022 (AR6): This six report was released and it stresses, in just what dire situation we’re in since the effects of climate change are accelerating beyond their previous prognosis. This report will be our focus for the summary below.

Summary of the IPCC Assessment Report

The recent PCC Assessment Report found that “the extent and magnitude of climate change impacts are larger than estimated in previous assessments.”

These impacts are felt in many ways:

  • It reduces our ability to grow nutritious food or provide sufficient clean drinking water, which in turn affects people’s health and well-being.
  • Increasing heat and extreme weather are causing plants and animals, both on land and in the ocean, to migrate towards cooler areas in our global North and South, to higher altitudes, or deeper areas in our oceans. This migration of plants and animals also impacts the timing of key biological events such as breeding and flowering, which in turn impacts food chains and the entire ecosystem.
  • Many species cannot adapt quickly enough or migrate fast enough and thus face extinction.
  • Since we are part of nature’s ecosystem, these events also impact our own sources of food.
  • Changes in temperature and rainfall cause severe droughts in many regions across the globe and cause devastating floods in others. This increased the frequency and spread of diseases that impact people, wildlife, and also agriculture and thus again affect our food supply.
  • Longer wildfire seasons increase the surface area that burns during the hot months, which in turn further intensifies the stresses on wildlife, human health, and also agriculture.
  • The occurrences of water shortages are increasing in many regions across the globe, which further impacts our global food supply, access to clean drinking water, as well as energy production from hydroelectric power plants.

The report clarifies that “globally, climate change is increasingly causing injuries, illness, malnutrition, threats to physical and mental health and well-being, and even deaths. It is making hot areas even hotter and drastically reducing the time people can spend outside, which means that some outdoor workers cannot work the required hours and thus will earn less.”

It becomes apparent that the impacts of climate change are multifaceted and will impact our food and water supply, and our infrastructures and energy production.

While many individuals, communities, and businesses have begun adapting to climate change, the Working Group identified large gaps between ongoing efforts, and the required adaptation efforts. With every increment of warming, the effectiveness of our efforts to offset climate change decreases and therefore a more urgent and ambitious action is required to quickly and effectively cut our emissions of greenhouse gases. The faster and more drastically we manage to reduce these emissions, the more capacity there is for people and nature to adapt.

According to the report, it is now clear that “minor, marginal, reactive or incremental changes won’t be sufficient.”

What can we do on an individual level?

Here are 10 things we can do on an individual basis to fight climate change.

  1. Boycott greedy corporations who put their own profits ahead of our global objectives. This includes corporations who are resistant to adapt to a “reuse” economy and rely on single-use, fossil fuels, etc. Boycott does not simply mean not buying products from these corporations, it also implies not buying their stocks and not working for these companies until they truly embrace their social responsibility (as opposed to greenwashing where they extensively highlight one thing that they do well and drown out any evidence of the things they do poorly).
  2. Cut down on convenience, since convenience has a large environmental cost.
  3. Have fewer children to curb overpopulation and secure food and water reserves for future generations.
  4. Reduce consumption. This includes our consumption of food, water, energy, and other “stuff.” We have created valuable guides and are making them available for free to help our society grow. Pick a few points at a time and commit to them until they become a habit (usually around 3 months).
  5. Have difficult conversations. There will always be some resistance to change but we all need to educate ourselves and one another. Be brave!
  6. Think collaboration, not competition. We’re all in this together and even though it may be easy to fall into a competitive “me-first” mindset when facing a potential extinction-level event, while there is still time to change and adapt, we need to embrace collaboration instead. It may feel counterintuitive, since we’ve been coerced to out-compete our peers since our early school days, but the reality is that a collaborative mindset will get us further and much faster than a competitive mindset. So, let’s embrace it!
  7. Work less for organisations and more for the community. If you are using your consumption you will be able to also cut down the amount of time you will be working for an organization, which will free up some of your time to get engaged in your community and start building relationships that will make all of us stronger.
  8. Learn to grow food and save the seeds. Climate change has already started to impact our food supply and will continue to do so. With every incremental increase in temperature, this challenge will increase, also. If you do have some space, even just a little window sill or balcony, try to start some seeds and learn how to grow some of your food yourself. In addition, consider starting a petition to convert public parks into growing heavens for vegis and fruits. The more self-sufficient we are as a society, the easier it will be to face the future. In addition, food self-sufficiency will cut down on the import of food from elsewhere, and thus further curb greenhouse gas emissions. Feeding one person, requires approximately 4,000 square feet of space, so the more unused spaces that can be converted into growing food, the better off we’ll be in the future.
  9. Don’t replace, repair. In our society the knowledge to repair things is fading, so start attending repair cafés whenever you have time and claim back those skills. They will likely come in handy in the future.
  10. Educate yourself on how to REDUCE:

Saving Energy Lowers Our Impact

Saving Energy Lowers Our Impact

Canada’s energy consumption is 3x as high as the world’s average consumption. When it comes to energy, saving it not only helps to conserve our beautiful planet, it also saves you some of your hard-earned money by lowering your utility bill. So, saving energy is a win-win-win situation, unless you work for the energy industry.

Putting it into numbers:

  • The average Canadian household uses 11,135 kWh of electricity per year (Source).
  • In 2021 numbers, this level of energy consumption would result in energy costs between $800 (Québec) and $4,300 (Northwest Territories) depending on which province the household is located in.
  • Energy costs are expected to rise as Canada is introducing various regulations to meet its 2035 energy reduction targets.


The best way to save energy is to simply not use it at all, when possible, and this is a joint effort. Mother Nature is helping, by providing us with natural light to illuminate our living spaces and wind and heat to dry our clothes, for example. To do our part, let’s accept these offers with gratitude and create smart energy saving habits to pull our weight.

Our WasteLess Energy Saving Guide features over 40 pages filled with Energy Saving Tips to help you reduce your own energy consumption, because each individual action, no matter how small, adds up and helps us bring our national average down.

WasteLess Energy Saving Guide

The WasteLess Energy Saving Guide features 40+ pages of Energy Saving Tips to help you reduce your impact. 

$0.00  $15.00

Table of Contents

Why save energy?

Saving energy is not “optional.” If we continue at this rate, we’ll eventually exhaust our “energy sources,” which will force us to reduce our consumption one way or another. So, cutting down on our energy consumption now will benefit our society in two ways: It will help to delay the doomsday outcome and also get us into good habits so a transition into an energy-low world will be easier for all of us to accomplish when that day comes.

And imagine what reducing our energy consumption will do for our beautiful blue planet and the amazing living beings we’re sharing it with:

  • Lower air pollution, which will have a great range of positive side-effects on our health and mental well being, the earth we grow our vegetables with, the water of the rivers, lakes, and oceans that surround us, the well being of all animals, whether they fly through the air or swim the seas, etc.

  • Less toxic waste, as we won’t need to produce so much energy in the first place. Any energy that is generated, even “clean” energy, creates toxic waste either during the production phase, energy generation phase, end-of-life decommissioning phase, or any combination of these. If we reduce our energy consumption, future generations and other living beings we’re sharing this beautiful blue planet with, won’t have to deal with these consequences.

  • Less exploitation of vulnerable nations. To put it in the words of Elon Musk: “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.” This statement happened in response to @historyofarmani’s tweet that the US government was organizing a coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia so Tesla could obtain the lithium required to produce electric cars. It perfectly summarizes the sentiment of powerful multinationals that what they call “natural resources” are up for purchase whenever and wherever they wish to acquire them. And if that’s not the case, they’ll just start a coup against those countries’ governments that do not wish to sell those resources, in order to put into place a government that can be bribed. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but countries with low environmental restrictions are always being exploited by powerful corporations for “resource extraction” so we can maintain our wasteful way of life. And whether we like it or not, we are indirectly responsible for this. Throttling our energy consumption therefore also allows exploited nations to catch a break, and put regulations in place that aim at the conservation of our global ecosystems.

  • Less exploitation of “natural resources.” For obvious reasons, we don’t like the term “natural resources,” because a resource is always seen as something that can be mined and used. And we get it: Religion and powerful men have fed us a story that everything on Earth was created for our consumption. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Earth doesn’t revolve around us. We are part of Earth and we are part of our ecosystem. And as such, we underlie the law of nature. In nature, when a species procreates uninhibited and continuously increases its consumption as a result, the entire species will meet its demise sooner rather than later, when all the resources have been exhausted. And this is where we’re headed. Let’s see if our species is indeed more “aware” and “smarter” than other animals, as we always claim and act accordingly.

How to save energy?

While the WasteLess Energy Guide provides over 40 pages of ways to save energy, here are a few tips we’d like to share with you, so that you can get started right away to save energy and reduce your impact:


  1. Air-dry your laundry rather than using your dryer. This will preserve the fibres longer, too, as the heat of your dryer can damage your clothes, reducing your waste imprint as well.

  2. Do fewer loads of laundry and only run full loads. It may be tempting to do laundry just because it’s “laundry day” but please consider that your washing machine will use the same amount of energy no matter how full the load is. As a result, it makes more sense energy-wise to wait until you have sufficient dirty clothes to run a full load. Besides cutting down the number of loads you’ll wash this way, also consider that washing machines are designed to run most efficiently with full loads.

  3. Only wash dirty clothes. Washing clothes is straining on the environment and the clothes themselves. So, only wash them when they indeed require washing, which is usually the case only after a few wears. In the meantime, you can air out your clothes to freshen them up and do spot cleaning for minor stains.


  1. Let your leftovers cool down before placing them in the fridge. Adding hot food to a cold fridge makes the refrigerator work harder to stabilise its internal temperature again.

  2. Cover all food. Open food containers and drinks increases the moisture levels inside the fridge and thus requires the compressor to work extra hard. To avoid creating waste, steer clear of seran wrap and instead use food containers with lids or cover your food with a small upside down plate or bowl.

  3. Let your dishes air dry. This may require that you turn off heated dry or turn on the air dry option, depending on your model. After the rinse cycle is complete, open your dishwasher and let them sit for a few hours.


  1. Unplug any electronic devices until they are being used. This applies to hair dryers and straighteners, electric toothbrushes, razors, and nightlights, for example. Electric devices that aren’t in use can consume up to 10% of electricity when they’re in standby mode or even turned off (Source).

  2. Heat the person, not the room and lower your use of devices that cool down or warm up the entire room. ACs and space heaters are big energy suckers. Just dressing for the weather (e.g. wearing multiple layers in the winter) even when you’re inside, can go a long way.

  3. Unplug devices that aren’t in use, including your chargers. It may surprise you but devices that are on standby or even turned off use a significant amount of energy and this includes smart plugs and smart devices. In fact, up to 40% of the annual energy consumption of electronic devices occurs when they’re turned off (Source). This energy consumption is referred to as a phantom load and you can learn more about them in the WasteLess Energy Guide and even calculate them here. The best way to look for devices that are likely culprits, turn your lights off at night and make a note of what standby lights and displays shine back at you.


  1. Only run the ventilation fan during your shower or bath and up to 15 minutes after. This is sufficient time to clear any condensation. Fans are a big energy sucker, so it’s best to use them sparingly.

  2. Regularly clean your ventilation fan, at least once every 6 months to ensure efficiency. Dusty clogged vents can be an energy drain as they have to work harder to do their job. 

  3. Lower the temperature of your showers slightly or try a cold or lukewarm shower, especially during the hotter months. Plus points for also reducing your shower time.


  1. Use LEDs instead of incandescent light bulbs when it comes time to replace a burnt-out bulb. LEDs usually have a longer life span and are 70-80% more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs (Source).

  2. Whenever possible, take advantage of natural light during daytime hours instead of using artificial lighting. A south-facing window can illuminate 20-100 times its size. (Source)

  3. Hang mirrors strategically to redirect and distribute natural light to brighten up dark hallways and rooms.

  4. Switch off the lights at home or at work when there’s nobody in the room. At work, one big offender is usually the photocopy room.

  5. Use task lighting instead of illuminating the entire room. Table lamps and counter lights help you concentrate light where it is needed, while ceiling lights can waste a lot of energy without added benefits.

Electric Vehicle

  1. Unload your car immediately after doing the groceries or shopping. Any extra weight in your vehicle (whether gas or EV) requires more energy to be moved around, so unloading your car after shopping trips and removing unnecessary junk from the car means that you will save on gas or electricity when driving.

  2. Charge your EV outside of peak hours. During peak hours energy companies are struggling to produce enough energy to meet our demand and sometimes even have to purchase it from other provinces through the grid.

  3. Drive less and plan your driving routes carefully. Keep in mind that each car weighs between 1 ton and 3.5 tons. This is in addition to your weight and the weight of anyone else or anything else that you’re driving around in your car. Moving this weight from one place to another requires a significant amount of energy. So it is essential to plan out your trips carefully to avoid longer-than-necessary and more-frequent-than-necessary driving. If you can take an alternative means, such as a bike or public transport, consider them a better choice than driving a car.

Download our Energy Saving Guide (below), which features over 170 energy saving tips and useful energy specific information.

Enjoy the Benefits and Good Conscience of Wasting Less Energy.

WasteLess Energy Saving Guide

The WasteLess Energy Saving Guide features 40+ pages of Energy Saving Tips to help you reduce your impact. 

$0.00  $15.00

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