“Where did all those bananas go?”
At the end of the week, we wanted to have a few overripe bananas for making a dessert. So we bought double the quantity that we normally consume. But as the week rolled on, we consumed more bananas than we normally do. Since those bananas were readily available, we promptly gobbled up our even our larger stock.
The rate of consumption of resources is directly proportional to the amount of resource readily available. Fire burns at an increasing rate when we throw in a large batch of firewood. The presence of desserts on the counter increases the rate at which we finish them. Work expands to fill the time available. Money in your bank or your pocket is spent faster than you realize simply because it is there.
Why do we do this? One reason could be because our sensory perception is logarithmic and not linear. When we look at light that is twice as bright, our eyes perceive them to be only slightly brighter. The pleasure that two cookies give us is not double of what one cookie would – it is only marginally more.
Frugality brings with it its own efficiency. And designing our environments for frugality is key to ensure that we do not eat through our limited resource stockpiles.
Related post: The insatiable fire