If you ask people the question how important they find sustainability, most of them will have no trouble answering they find it very important. When the next question is about what they really contribute to sustainable development, most of the time its quiet. The definition of sustainable development is quite broad and for the ease the Brundtland definition will be taken as a definition. In short: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. I am aware of the fact that there is a lot of fussing and fighting when defining sustainability, especially when academics are aloud to speak their mind. But as I personally find truth in this definition, I will stick to it.
Back to the point. So some of you will answer they have ‘green’ energy, as in sustainable. Either if it is proceed by the sun or wind, it is labeled green. What most people do not know is that they think they have green energy, but they actually receive grey energy. Grey energy is energy that is produced by burning fossil fuels, or unsustainable. Companies find many ways to greenwash themselves while actually selling unsustainable services and goods. Now, have you ever heard of energy farmers that produce wind-, water-, sun- and bio-energy? It is an alternative to large companies and allows consumers to buy energy directly from the source, I had never heard of it until yesterday and I decided to check it out.
In the Netherlands there is an E-bay kind of company called Vandebron, which is literally translated as Fromthesource. They offer a platform, like E-bay, for consumers to buy sustainable energy directly from the source. ‘The source’ in this case are farmers or organizations with their own specialization. The consumer can choose between these specializations and thus choose the source of their electricity: wind, water, sun and bio-energy. The electricity from the farmers go to a national electricity net, which means you are insured of energy even if there is no wind. Vandebron is not a regular energy company but a platform for producers and consumers where consumers can choose their own producers. Furthermore, as is stated on their website, Vandebron only profits from subscription fees and thus means a fair price for producers as well as consumers.
Critics emphasize how unsustainable bio-energy is or that the production of solar panels brings more harm than joy to the environment. To these critics I would like to say in some way you are right. On the other hand, initiatives like these are fairly young and open for development. In the world we live in today, development without investment is almost impossible. Therefore, if you choose for alternatives like these you also support the development of these alternatives. Lets be honest, what is going to happen when one stays where it is, no step has been made. Not even one backwards to take three forwards. Stay critical, but open. Do not try to be that person that stays quiet when asked what he/she contributes to sustainable development but meanwhile keeps ranting on initiatives towards sustainable development. This is not meant to analyse all the ins and outs of companies like Vandebron, but to introduce you with the concept. Now, go search for platforms like these in your region, start your own or become a producer.
Read more at www.vandebron.nl (Dutch)