I’ve been thinking about allocation versus consumption. There is always a correlation between the former and the latter. The more resources allocated to something, the more consumption - and the more allocation, the more waste.
Here’s an example:
- Scenario A: Eating a meal at home. You serve yourself a reasonable portion and eat everything. After, you’re full.
- Scenario B: Eating out. You eat everything and feel full, but they actually served you a much larger portion. It’s not obvious because the mental unit of measurement is “one plate”.
The food in Scenario B may taste better and result in a higher utility, but the exact quantity makes little difference. The utility would be nearly the same if the restaurant was forced to match Scenario A’s amount of food.
Excessive resource allocation will naturally drive increased consumption. Without even realizing it, people will use what’s available. It’s not that they’re deliberately thinking about this - it’s the opposite. The convenience of plenty eliminates the need to think.
This type of behavior happens all the time. Here are some examples an average person will experience:
- Setting meetings to the default time of 1 hour
- Traveling with a large suitcase
- Owning a large house with a lot of storage space
It’s scary to think about how these individual decisions compound across a population. What happens when everyone thinks they need a bigger home, a bigger car, and a bigger meal?