Connect Fuel Production and Waste

Understanding the connection between how much energy you use and how much fuel it took to create that energy is an important first action step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By thinking of energy and fuel in this way, you can shift to a relational, conservation-based mindset. 

Many things we use daily would not exist without produced energy—cars, coffee, cat videos, even canned tuna. People in the US are heavy energy users, accounting for roughly one-sixth of world energy consumption. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2019 total U.S. primary energy consumption per person was about 305 million British thermal units (Btu). This is equal to the burning of about 24,400 pounds of coal a year, or 67 pounds of coal a day per person.

Breaking this down even further, let’s think about energy in simpler terms. Food, like gasoline, is fuel, and contains energy. The more work you do, the more energy you need to consume, so you’ll need more fuel, or in this case, food. 

Let’s assume that a large burrito with all the fixings is about 1,200 kilocalories (kcal). 

305 million Btu is converted into about 77 million kcal. 

77 million kcal converted is about 64,167 burritos. 

That means that a person would be consuming 64,167 burritos in energy each year. By comparison, the average person needs to eat the equivalent of about 600 burritos each year to maintain their weight.

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