by Michael Leschke
“We revel in the laxness of the path we take.” – Charles Baudelaire
Ah, laziness. Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins and idle hands do the devil’s work. Generally speaking, laziness is bad.
But I don’t care. I have no problem freely admitting it to any who will listen: I’m lazy. Ask my family, roommates, friends, multiple ex-girlfriends, etc.—they’ll all tell you that I have many (many, I swear!) redeeming qualities, but motivation usually isn’t one of them. For your consideration: 1) I love soccer, but I’m too lazy and out of shape to play. 2) I love music but I absolutely don’t want to take the time to learn how to play an instrument and I’m self-conscious. 3) I am passionate about environmental issues, but I usually don’t want to spend the energy to canvas, advocate, eat granola and climb trees, or really get “out there” to make a difference. I’m willing to bet there’s a whole lethargic army of people out there who are just like me, stumbling around in a daze of self-imposed languidity, unsure how to express their interest in something and act on their passions without having to do too much work and feeling more than a little guilty about it. Life can be tough sometimes; trust me, I know, I deal with it on a daily basis.
People are seldom too lazy to spend money though, and you know what? People are willing to spend money on issues that are important to them. Go figure. According to a fresh-off-the-presses report by researchers from Harvard and Yale, Americans care about clean energy and its use is important to us as a nation. How much so? Something to the tune of the average American being willing to pay $162 extra per year on their electric bills so that 80% of their power is coming from clean or renewable resources by the year 2035. Yes, $162. That’s not chump change; people wouldn’t be willing to spend beaucoup bucks on a non-issue. Not only that, but based on past voting records, there appears to be bipartisan support in congress to pass national legislation introducing a National Clean Energy Standard. You go, America! Oh, and by the way, it doesn’t cost ANYWHERE near $162 extra a year to purchase renewable energy. According to the annual report published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the customers who sign up for a Green Power Pricing Program generally spend less than $10 dollars a month extra. $10. Ten. Dollars. In fact the average is $6.30 a month. Yet only 2% of Americans sign up for such programs when they’re offered by their utility.
What does this mean? This means nationwide support and spending money is out there among the masses on clean energy issues, but as of yet is relatively untapped. The average American—like me—has a soft spot in his or her heart for using clean and renewable energy. And why not? With more and more studies linking the use of renewable energy to health benefits as well as cost savings over time and increased national security what’s not to like? I like that and I self-identify as a hater. It seems we’re all just unaware of the opportunity here to do something positive without actually breaking a sweat or even leaving the couch/desk/bed, and this is where I switch on like a toaster. I love feeling like I’m doing good things without actually, you know, working for it. It’s an artform and I’m the master. Well, this report says we’re all more than willing to throw some spare change every month toward an issue that the general public can and does support. (It’s also why I have a job). There are no habits that need to be changed and no extra effort that needs to be made. We actually just have to do it. Sign up for a certified renewable energy program in your area. What if there is no program in your area? Well, go to www.buycleanenergy.org to search by zipcode to see if one is offered to you, and either way you can offset your electricity use by purchasing renewable energy certificates. San Francisco people, I’m looking at YOU – consider it your penance for making a fool out of yourself at Bay to Breakers this past weekend. I saw you and I feel ashamed for you.
The bottom line is that many Americans—me included—are interested in finding ways to make a difference without having to do too much actual work, and they’re just unsure where to focus their (lack of) energy. Well, this is one simple way and according to the Harvard and Yale report, it’s a tune we can all dance to. The benefits of using clean and renewable resources make this the easiest way to actually do something that makes a huge difference by barely doing anything at all. America is all ready to make a difference by relaxing and spending some spare coin and that’s the way I like it. Treat yourselves and revel away!
Michael Leschke has been with Green-e Energy since January 2012 as an associate and is a go-getter and a real catch. He can be reached at michael [at] resource-solutions.org
 Aldy, Joseph; Kotchen, Matthew; & Leiserowitz, Anthony. (2012). “Willingness to Pay and Political Support for a US National Clean Energy Standard”. Nature Climate Change. Available at http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate1527.html
 Heeter, Jenny & Bird, Lori. (2011). “Status and Trends in U.S. Compliance and Voluntary Renewable Energy Markets (2010 Data)”. Available at http://apps3.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/pdfs/52925.pdf
 Summer, Steven & Leyde, Peter. (2009). “Expansion of Renewable Energy Industries and Implications for Occupational Health”. The Journal of the American Medical Association. Vol.302, No. 7, pp. 787-789.
 United States Department of Defense. 2012. “Operational Energy Strategy: Implementation Plan”. Available at http://energy.defense.gov/Operational_Energy_Strategy_Implementation_Plan.pdf