How I Gave Up Alternating Current

The walls are buzzing. I know this because I have a magnet implanted in my hand and whenever I reach near an outlet I can feel them. I can feel fortresses of industry miles away burning prehistoric hydrocarbons by the megaton. I can feel the searing pain and loss of consciousness from when I was shocked by exposed house wiring as a boy. I can feel the deep cut of the power bill when I was living near the poverty line. I can feel the cold uncertainty of the first time the power went out due to a storm when I was a child. How long before the delicate veil of civilization turns to savagery with no light nor heat nor refrigeration?

The grid, smart or not, is wasteful. Power generation produces 32% of all greenhouse gases, more than any other economic sector. Most power in the US is generated by burning coal, immediately squandering 67% of its energy, then run through a steam turbine, losing another 50%, then sent across transmission lines, losing another 5%, then to charge a DC device like a cell phone another 20% is lost in conversion. This means for 100 watts of coal or oil burned my phone gets a mere 25. In this light a solar panel that is 18% efficient doesn’t seem that bad.

Instead of ever increasing our energy production, what if we focused instead on reducing our consumption? I expect power will be at a premium in our first space colonies, and DC only from solar cells. So, I embarked on an experiment to see if I could survive without the luxury of alternating current.


In 2013 United States utilities generated 4,066 TWh of electricity and collected $370 billion in revenue. Of this, 70% came from fossil fuel sources like coal and natural gas. Nuclear has a strong showing of 20% and “renewables” are the other 10%, the majority of which is hydroelectric. In fact, the 5 largest power plants in the world are all hydroelectric. Three Gorges Dam alone generates 22,500MW, 10x the capacity of a typical US coal plant. In the US the highest consuming segment is residential, over commercial and industrial, with average use of 909 KWh per month per customer at a cost of $110.

My home city of Los Angeles has peak power demand of 6,125MW. Most of it is imported from coal plants in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. The city generates about 25% of its own power from 4 local natural gas facilities, and another 11% comes from Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, whose twin reactors generate 2,242MW with 193 fuel assemblies. Each assembly contains around 200 fuel rods and each fuel rod contains roughly 400 half-inch Uranium pellets, which are 3.5-5% Uranium-235. That is about 75 tons of Uranium, which must be changed out every 2 years. Still, I prefer it to coal.

Diablo Canyon with its twin reactors employs 1200 people and generates 7% of California’s power

Maintaining these facilities takes thousands of workers and outages are still common. Los Angeles uses overhead power lines that are unsightly and vulnerable to auto accidents. In 2005 a DWP worker accidentally cut a line that severed power to half of Los Angeles. In 2013 Diablo Canyon was forced to shut down due to an influx of jellyfish. Diablo Canyon is also built less than a mile from a major fault line. The largest photovoltaic power plant in the world, Topaz Solar Farm cost $2.5 billion and while its “nameplate capacity” is 550MW, due to solar’s low capacity factor really generates a paltry average of 125MW.

Now I don’t need any of them. I am electrically self reliant. My home life runs comfortably on a single 100W solar panel, which cost $150 and was available on Amazon Prime. I tracked down a few manufacturers in China who all said it costs around $40 to make. The US for some reason leverages massive tariffs on Chinese solar panels, so they ship them through Malaysian customs. Why do the politicians even bother?

For storage a $65 lead acid deep cycle battery does the trick. It’s 12V so can be charged directly from the solar panel, and holds 420Wh, way more than I use in a day. That’s $0.15 / Wh so I don’t see why everyone is so excited about Tesla charging $0.43 / Wh for the Powerwall, sans inverter and installation.

My New Power Source

Note 12V -> 5V Buck Converter; Voltmeter monitors battery charge

I have been living on this system for a few months now and am thrilled how well it works. Every morning I arise and marvel at the free, reliable energy generated in a cosmic fusion reactor and beamed to my apartment through space. Of course, solar would have been prohibitively expensive and complicated had I not reduced my consumption to a fraction of what the average home uses. Here is how I did it.


Kitchens are expensive and dirty. This home manufacturing center has been by far the most liberating to eliminate. They are the greediest consumers of power, water, and labor and produce the most noise and garbage of any room. Moreover, they can be made totally unnecessary with a few practical life hacks.

First, I never cook. I am all for self reliance but repeating the same labor over and over for the sake of existence is the realm of robots. I utilize soylent only at home and go out to eat when craving company or flavor. This eliminates a panoply of expensive tools and rotting ingredients I would need to spend an unconscionable amount of time sourcing, preparing, and cleaning.  It also gives me an incentive to explore the city’s fine restaurants and ask friends out to eat. In fact, I find soylent has made me more social when it comes to food. I can spend the money I saved from groceries and take out to buy a friend lunch or dinner. When soylent 2.0 reached private beta, I was thrilled to learn that thanks to aseptic processing the product does not require refrigeration, and will still keep its nutrition for at least a year. It tastes better cold but I think it’s fine warm. Getting rid of my fridge was one of the greatest days of my life. Nevermore will I listen to that damn compressor moan.

I have not set foot in a grocery store in years. Nevermore will I bumble through endless confusing aisles like a pack-donkey searching for feed while the smell of rotting flesh fills my nostrils and fluorescent lights sear my eyeballs and sappy love songs torture my ears. Grocery shopping is a multisensory living nightmare. There are services that will make someone else do it for me but I cannot in good conscience force a fellow soul through this gauntlet.

I buy my staple food online like a civilized person. It takes me mere seconds to order enough soylent for a month, and version 2.0 does not require any preparation, so I got rid of my noisy blender. At less than $2.50 / meal it also saves me loads of cash, and I appreciate the use of more soy and less rice, finally bringing a nutritionally optimal PDCAAS score of 1.0 while improving the taste and especially texture. I also think it’s crazy cool that some of the ingredients are made by algae rather than water-guzzling pesticide-spraying farms.


Soylent 2.0 from private beta

Next, I switched from beer to red wine. I buy with Saucey so I don’t have to use awful retail stores. Decent red wine is surprisingly cheap, pleasurable, and does not require refrigeration. I also end up drinking less liquid overall, meaning fewer bottles to throw away (I average about one trashbag / month) and fewer trips to the bathroom, meaning for a comparable amount of alcohol, when wine is consumed instead of beer there is less electrolyte loss and less after effects.

For coffee and tea I use a butane stove. It is much cheaper and more energy efficient than a Keurig, which can use $160 of electricity / year. It doesn’t waste endless non-recyclable “K-Cups” and I find heats water about as fast. Also fire is much more beautiful than blinking LEDs.

Space Stove

With no fridge, no dishes, no microwave, no oven, no range, no dishwasher, no utensils, no pests, no cleaning products nor dirty rags, my life is considerably simpler, lighter and cleaner than before. I think it was a bit presumptuous for the architect to assume I wanted a kitchen with my apartment and make me pay for it. My home is a place of peace. I don’t want to live with red hot heating elements and razor sharp knives. That sounds like a torture chamber. However, it’s not a total loss. I was able to use the cabinets to store part of my book collection.


Without sustainable power production electric cars are not that great. Charging an 85kWh Tesla would still burn the equivalent of 10 gallons of oil at the power plant.[a] With a range of 265 miles the Tesla Model S really uses 26.5 mpg, barely over the average american fuel economy of 23.6 mpg.

Public transportation is leagues more efficient and I love trains. Still, the energy costs are substantial and the infrastructure requires a lot of maintenance. I take Uber around the city and to work (most of them are Priuses which use DC motors so I’m good there). I take the bus often too. It’s pretty good in LA. Runs on CNG.

Perhaps a cross between a subway car and an automobile: some sort of self-driving electric pod that carried a dozen people in a UberPool model would improve on this. Either that, robot horse cheetahs, or drone multicopters.

The streets were originally made for people. The automobile’s takeover has destroyed more than millions of lives (cars have killed far more Americans than war and AIDS combined), it has trampled the prime conduit of community in our cities and exiled us to the indoors to sit in front of televisions. I hope the next generation of transportation technologies will give us back the streets.

Topaz Solar Farm

For today though, Uber works pretty well. Traffic isn’t so bad if you’re sitting in the back with a book, and since I buy everything I need online I’m never running errands, which makes UberPool cheaper and more convenient than car ownership. I also found myself constantly distracted by my phone while driving, and knew other drivers were too. So, with a simple lifestyle adjustment I find Uber eliminates the pain points of transportation much the same way soylent eliminates the pain points of food. I miss my car sometimes, and I miss frying burgers, but I know both behaviors would have eventually caught up with me. After two years of relying on soylent my blood and body metrics are still optimal, and I no longer have to worry about drunk or distracted driving.

It’s easy to demonize “big food corporations”, but the majority of America’s calories come from home-cooked staple meals. Most of us are driving drunk when it comes to how we eat. At some point we are going to have to admit that we suck at cooking, and we suck at driving. Let’s automate them already so we can focus on art, and science, and exploration. Food can be art, and driving can be exploration, but it’s mostly manufacturing and commuting. I don’t miss them.

All of my scars are either from cooking or driving. I noticed I have not collected any new ones lately.


Today’s computers are remarkably efficient. But we could always do better. I winced as I ditched my homebuilt desktop for a cheap, low power Intel NUC. Giving up my tower for a mini PC felt like when I lost my beloved ‘86 Ford F250 and started riding around in Uber Priuses. It’s the future. But it still stings a little.

The NUC and my displays, 2x AOC 17in USB DisplayLink monitors, are amazingly efficient and serve all my daily needs. When I want some real computing power I SSH or RDP in to an EC2 instance and have all the power I need. Intel has really stepped up their graphics game too. The HD 6000 integrated GPU runs League of Legends and Kerbal Space Program great. Skylake should bring further improvements this Fall. I power the NUC directly from the battery since it runs on 12V and draws less than 1A of current even with the monitors. That’s 72Wh if I use it for 6 hours straight, which my panel produces in less than an hour in direct sunlight, an abundant resource in Los Angeles. No more power blocks, wall warts, or rats nests of cables. My Android phone charges at 5V and uses less than 10Wh / day, which isn’t a lot but I still think is atrocious for what it does. My old Nokia would run for a week on that.

DC Desktop


I enjoy doing laundry about as much as doing dishes. I get my clothing custom made in China for prices you would not believe and have new ones regularly shipped to me. Shipping is a problem. I wish container ships had nuclear engines but it’s still much more efficient and convenient than retail. Thanks to synthetic fabrics it takes less water to make my clothes than it would to wash them, and I donate my used garments.

The overwhelming majority of clothing Americans buy is made overseas anyways. I just buy direct. And container ships are amazingly efficient.

It bothers me immensely that all clothing is hand made. Automation is woefully absent from the textile industry, but I don’t think it always will be. For now a few new t shirts and jeans per month is not very offensive. I certainly buy less clothing overall than a typical consumer. Synthetic fabrics are easy to recycle and I believe will soon be made with biofuels. Still, this area needs some work.

Intermountain Power Plant in Utah cost $4.5 billion, generates 1900MW, and is operated by LA DWP

Climate Control

In Los Angeles climate control is leaving the windows open. My apartment came with a Nest but I removed it and have not felt the need for either heating or air conditioning. Even in less temperate locales I wonder if we really need to define our environment to within single degree Fahrenheit. I am not so controlling, but I do want to take back the rooftops from those horrible HVAC units.


As mandated by modern building codes my apartment building uses harsh overhead LED lighting. At first I switched to electroluminescent wire, which shines much more evenly and calmly while being remarkably efficient. However, it uses AC so I rewired with adjustable RGB LEDs, 12V so they can also be run straight from the battery. I love being able to change the color and brightness remotely and quickly found a more comfortable hue and strength.


I am blessed with nice weather, a nice view, and a full bookcase so see no need for a noisy, unsightly television, a black hole that living rooms arrange themselves around like an altar. I prefer to read, study, code, or go for a walk to one of several parks in my neighborhood. However I do enjoy movies so I set up an LED projector, a “RIF6 Cube”, which blew me away by how great the picture quality is for the price, size and power consumption. I use an Amazon Fire TV Stick which supports Miracast so anything my phone can play my projector can play. I’ve never had cable TV but I was finally able to fully ditch my ISP and Wi-Fi router and use an LTE hotspot. T Mobile provides unlimited data if you’re on their network so since my apartment is near one of their towers it works almost as well as cable.

The RIF6 Cube is simpler, cheaper, and more flexible than a television


The whole retrofit cost $1450, which is steep but I will make it back in due time since I don’t pay for an ISP bundle or power. To me the real upside is the pleasure in being electrically self reliant. Nightmares about being trapped in a coal mine have been replaced by pleasant dreams of basking in the sun’s glory. It got a little weird when I had to prove my existence to a local government and they asked for a utility bill. Good thing I still use water, for now.

If you can strip wires you can set this up yourself. Everything I used is available on Amazon except for soylent 2.0, which is only available at

The first space colonies will have no coal power plants. I am ready. For now though, as I am driven through the gleaming city, my hunger peacefully at bay, I have visions of the parking lots and grocery stores replaced by parks and community centers, power plants retrofitted as museums and galleries. Traffic and trash and pollution will evaporate, if only we are willing to adapt some routines.

R. Buckminster Fuller thought we should connect all the world’s power grids. What if instead we could all connect through the sun?

edit: follow up post The Appeal of Outsourcing


[a] 85kWh = 306MJ

Grid loss is 75% (67% lost on burning * 50% steam turbine loss * 5% transmission line loss * 80% “supercharger” efficiency)

Then need 306MJ / 0.25 = 1201MJ of oil at the plant

Petroleum is 32.4 MJ/L

1201MJ  / 32.4 MJ/L = 37L

37L = 10 gallons

  • johnwilliams713

    Man, it must be exhausting to be around you.


      I think it’d be refreshing to be around someone who is able to think outside of the box. People generally accept the way things are now without thinking twice. We need people like Rob if we’re to make any progress as a species. Too bad not everyone can appreciate the effort. Thanks for your constructive feedback by the way.

      • johnwilliams713

        Man, it must be exhausting to be around you.

        • Amy4Robots

          Worse than exhausting, probably disgusting, as Soylent is well-known for making people extremely flatulent. Dude, don’t you care about the environment? Ever heard of the cow flatulence tax? You’re contributing to global warming. Thanks for ruining the Earth for my grandchildren!

      • StoneCypher

        “I burn natural gas to inefficiently heat my coffee because I imagine that somehow generates less carbon per watt than the electricity from a major power plant that would heat my efficient coffee machine.”

        Thinking outside the box is easy when nobody checks quality.

        This is not how progress is made

        • tmosley

          Natural gas is the most efficient way to produce heat. Everyone SHOULD know this.

          • LutherZBlissett

            It is not the most efficient way to make coffee. That Rhinehart compares his butane stove to a Keurig as opposed to, say, an electric kettle ought to give you pause. The externalities of distributing butane in bottles also go unexamined.

          • indeed, he’s efficient and all within his home. but dependent on complex highly inefficient stuff from outside. i’d heat with electricity, and get some more solar instead.

          • foljs

            “””indeed, he’s efficient and all within his home. but dependent on complex highly inefficient stuff from outside.”””

            most people here seem not to get that people NOT doing what he does (e.g. the average person) are EVEN MORE SO dependent on complex highly inefficient stuff from outside.

            From owning a car (and all that comes with it), to airconditioning (and all the energy waste), to the economics and waste of home cooking. And they still get their clothes from China even if they buy them from the Mall.

          • Sure. But still, having more solar and cooking etc with electricity would be more independent.

          • lilmookie

            I wouldn’t argue with the efficiency of natural gas to heat- but in terms of distribution and using a finite resource for heating.

            The thing is, in the intro, he mentions reducing consumption. But this guy isn’t really reducing his consumption through lifestyle at all.

            He’s not even living in a lifestyle that space could support.

            I appreciate the outside the box thinking, to a degree, but In terms of decreasing consumption or living a space-habitat-friendly lifestyle, this thought exercise is kind of a train wreck.

            That said I think it’s a nice read about alternative lifestyles even if I don’t agree it’s a particularly beneficial or useful one.

          • KickFailure

            Yeah, there are a lot more wasteful people in the world.

            This is only laughable because he completely fails at it’s stated goals, but he’s convinced himself otherwise through willful self-delusion.

            If this article had started “Hey, check out these crazy things I’m doing. It doesn’t achieve anything, but I’m having fun.” nobody would have had any problem with it.

          • Julien Pierre

            Actually, it’s not just the crazy things he does. The article is also full of misstatements and errors. I outlined a few in separate threads.

          • KickFailure

            If your goal is only to “produce heat” there are lots of really efficient ways to do it.

            But inefficiencies in “producing heat” are usually trivial for anything less than heating a home. The real gains are achieved by producing LESS heat, and APPLYING the heat more efficiently. (Which this completely fails at!)
            (Not to mention the massive gains that can be achieved by NOT BUYING YOUR ENERGY IN BOTTLES! It’s like bragging you use less water because you replaced your tap with a crate of 12oz bottles of spring water! )

          • Clara Listensprechen

            I’m surprised he didn’t suggest heating a cup of coffee by putting it in the sun under a magnifying glass.

          • dd204ls

            Nuclear is WAY mor effective for producing heat

          • Dr. Pill

            Natural gas is efficient in an efficient appliance. But when using that burner most of the heat goes to the atmosphere, not to the item being heated. Anyone with common sense should see that!!

          • Clara Listensprechen

            That doesn’t make it efficient as a merit. You’re just comparing it to less efficient sources. Nothing is perfectly efficient–look up the word “entropy”.

          • Ralph Martin

            This is not true at all. Aim black box containing a plexiglass window at the sign and trickle water through it. Build one for $10. You will heat water (to boiling if desired) at 80% net efficiency. At lower temperatures 90-95% net thermal efficiency.

          • Michael Dann

            Natural gas is the most efficient way to produce heat. Everyone SHOULD know this.

            There are many more less carbon intense ways to produce heat. They are more costly, but that’s in our current paradigm where carbon carries no explicit market price.

          • James Fallon

            Dear god I hope you’re joking, because that is not even remotely close to true.

        • Think outsider the box, just stop drinking coffee! Think of all the energy you’re saving by not requiring a huge industry to provide you with boiling water and awful tasting bean crud!

          • Arcadiy Ivanov

            And if one kills himself, one consumes nothing as well. Everyone has a right to self-loathing, but if you want to stop consuming, stop existing and the problem is solved.

        • Richard C

          Natural gas from a pipe would indeed be orders of magnitude more efficient than electricity from a carbon-producing power plant, no matter how efficient the coffee maker. Converting gas directly into heat will always beat converting coal to heat to steam to torque (spinning turbine) to electricity and back to heat inside your coffee pot.

          Of course, he’s comparing it to a Keurig, which is about the worst kind of coffee maker you can get from an environmental standpoint. And he’s not talking natural gas delivered through a pipe; he’s using butane (petroleum gas) delivered in little metal bottles. I’m sure that’s still better than coal, but a normal coffee pot powered by clean electricity would be far preferable from an environmental standpoint.

          • StoneCypher

            please be serious

            no, natural gas from a pipe is not orders of magnitude more efficient than a power plant. you seem to be confusing combustion efficiency with total efficiency.

            it doesn’t matter that lighting natural gas on fire is efficient. virtually none of the produced heat is going into the relevant device.

      • SuperMatt

        This guy isn’t thinking at all. Throwing away clothes instead of washing them? How the hell is that more efficient? And donating your sweaty, dirty clothes is truly disgusting. You should only donate clean clothes. What a complete dirtbag. And all his information about the power grid is complete and utter BS.

        • Leah Silver Graves

          Agree! Throwing away clothes instead of washing them is one of the most absurd “energy saving” ideas I’ve ever heard. Plus, they are getting made in China and shipped here. And yes–only clean clothes can be donated.

      • Origami_Isopod

        LOL, “think outside the box.” A phrase that has become meaningless in the hands of dipshit MBAs.


          The phrase is irrelevant, you have to admit the “normal” way the average American lives is not sustainable if applied globally, and most people do not give it any thought, let alone they experiment with alternate ways of living.

          • skewp

            >you have to admit the “normal” way the average American lives is not sustainable if applied globally

            Neither is anything the author of this article is doing. People aren’t responding negatively because he’s thinking outside the box, they’re responding negatively because he’s wrong about basically every claim he makes in the article. He is just as dependent and consumptive as his neighbors (for the most part), he’s just doing it in a different way. He’s just offloading his waste and inefficiency onto different people/systems than the average person does.


            Buying clothes and giving them away is probably more wasteful than washing them, not taking into account the benefit other people might have from them, but I for instance have 36 solar panels installed and consume 200% of what is being generated. Most people do not even have panels installed. I think at least in electricity usage he is far below the average consumer.

          • Leah Silver Graves

            We run a whole house (2 bedroom apartment over a 2 car garage) with two solar panels and a bank of batteries. However, our fridge, stove, and heater are all propane powered. I also agree with you–clothing is not designed to be a disposable one time use item. Having a set of clothes that you wear (and wash) all of the time and not constantly buying new clothes is much more energy efficient.

          • skewp

            This is only true if you’re looking at the electricity being directly used in his residence. It’s not necessarily the case if you look at all the electricity used to fund his lifestyle. It takes a lot of energy to put natural gas into a small canister and deliver that canister to a consumer. That system isn’t even designed to be efficient. It’s designed to trade efficiency for convenience. It likewise takes a lot of energy to create the infrastructure and systems that allow him to buy cheap Chinese clothes in bulk and then throw them away immediately, and to sustain the clothing donation system that he gives those clothes to.

            There’s also a lot of energy and water that goes into producing, shipping, and selling the coffee he drinks that makes the cost of it a lot more than he is recognizing, in terms of electricity, carbon emissions, and water consumption. Just not buying a Keurig and boiling the water on an efficient electric stove, like an induction range is going to be a massive reduction in power consumption and impact, and probably a better choice than basically using a camp fire grill like he’s doing now (and can probably pull power from a solar array).

            So, sure, the power going through the copper cables in his walls is lower, but his overall environmental impact, including overall electricity usage, water usage, and carbon footprint is probably not significantly less. Not plugging something into the wall doesn’t magically mean it’s not using electricity or water.

      • disqus_Ysg3mo4g2J

        Carnation Instant Breakfast was invented in, what, the 60s? The only difference here is the bland generic marketing and flavor that somehow convinces rubes it’s more techy. Nothing out of the box.

    • foljs

      Or around you — you know, one who has nothing to contribute to the discussion but a dismissal of his idea, but felt the absolute need to inform the rest of us about it.

      Talk about “give me attention”.

      Even if his idea is contrived or just a shallow ad for his food product, it still makes some interesting points that people rarely think about.

      • Origami_Isopod

        Your fanboying for Rob is kind of embarrassing. Just thought I’d let you know.

        • foljs

          Luckily I don’t think in 15-year old terms like “fanboying”.

          Besides, I could not care less.

          • The truly elite among us use only words invented within the last four years, it’s true.

      • KickFailure

        Haha! “Nothing to contribute but dismissal of the idea” is a phrase only used by crazies.

        It’s used to defend all kinds of anti-science nonsense, from astrology to moon-hoax conspiracy theories.

        Calling attention to ridiculous, contradictory, or just plain wrong assertions *is* contributing to the discussion.

        Sorry, we’re not having the “This guy is right!” discussion we would be having if he was actually right.

        • foljs

          “””Haha! “Nothing to contribute but dismissal of the idea” is a phrase only used by crazies.”””

          Haha (sic), read a little more, and you’ll find it’s a totally valid phrase, used throughout human history in lots of circumstances, and far from “only used by crazies”.

          Even if that was the case, that would make your accusation at best an ad-hominen. “Oh, crazies use the phrase, therefore you must be crazy for using it” etc.

          Lastly, what should this guy be right about and ain’t? He likes a certain lifestyle and he went for it. For the most part the article describes that.

          There are colossal amounts of fucks I don’t give whether he’s right on some detail regarding gas stove being more efficient or what have you.

          I also don’t give a fuck if his total energy use is more harmful for the environment (which I doubt, most idiots commenting on it haven’t taken lack of owned car, no home cooking waste, etc into account, and it’s all at best back of the envelope calculations).

          I appreciate the description of his choices, associated retail costs, time savings etc, for what they are, not for their “green impact” (or lack thereof).

          The idea “hmm, one could order custom suits from China” is interesting enough to me by itself as information, or the suggestion that one could skip owning a car or kitchen and use shared resources etc and it could work OK for them.

          As for the energy efficiency calculations anybody that went to high school can do them. It’s the least that I care about regarding the article, which is all about lifestyle choices.

  • KickFailure

    So, washing clothes is for poor people? Affluent people just buy new ones?

    Trickle-down at its best.


      As he explained, it’s not about that, it’s about conserving water and helping people less furtunate at the same time.

      • KickFailure

        Nonsense! If the clothes are going to be used, SOMEBODY is going to wash them.
        He just doesn’t want it to be him, because he’s too cool for that.

        • Cruxius

          I hope the teeming masses aren’t washing the clothes he donates. It would be like washing used panties! These were clothes worn by ROB RHINEHART!! They are holy relics!!!

      • johnwilliams713

        Donated clothes have to be washed, homie. And the people that take them will continue washing them. No conservation, whatsoever.

      • Cruxius

        If they are less furtunate he should be giving them his furnutaure.

      • StoneCypher

        the amount of water wasted in the increased transit is dramatically higher than the amount of water “saved” by throwing away clothes because you’re too lazy to wash them

        please stop being a cheerleader. it doesn’t matter if it’s “about” saving water; it wastes a tremendous amount of water.

        • Not to mention the amount of energy.

      • Ms George Zip

        Are you guys in a relationship?

      • You can’t help someone by employing them in useless work. Otherwise you end up with a 1984 situation where you pay one person to dig a hole and the next one to fill it in. Throwing away clothes that would last up to ten years is the same profligacy.

      • Katherine

        So he’s putting it on the groups who organize these donated clothes to wash them? Because it sounds like what he’s doing is sending over his sweated up t-shirts and used skivvies to be organized and washed by high school kids and low wage employees instead of doing it himself.

      • Clara Listensprechen

        Considering the huge amount of water it takes to manufacture solar panels, he’s doing neither.

      • Joe’s Monco

        It doesn’t conserve anything. The people who will be donated his clothing will wash them. Many, many, many times.


          Yes, but surely all donated clothing is washed when they receive it. As such, instead of having it washed twice before someone else may use it, he is donating nearly new clothing which may help other people. Of course not everyone should be doing this because then there would be piles of donated clothing, but since not everyone gets their clothing in bulk from China, for most people this isn’t an option anyway.

          • disqus_Ysg3mo4g2J

            Buying clothing in bulk? Sounds, um … wasteful? Every place you donate clothes to asks that they be clean — he must ignore this request because it’s beneath him and he’s such a big donor. He must be so proud. This guy is an ass using charities as a personal laundry and filling the world with excess nonbiodegradable clothing (and plastic bottles) made from petroleum. I understand that no one can actually even use his worn custom t-shirts because of the excessively large neck hole required to fit his head.

          • Joe’s Monco

            So again, where is the actual conservation happening? If other people are going to be washing the clothes over and over and over and over again, there is no real savings going on. He’s just pushed the consumption off to another point.

      • Leah Silver Graves

        And of course it takes water to make this clothing items in the first place. Rather than have a handful of favorite clothes and washing them (even by hand if he does not want a washing machine) is better than buying new clothes every time something gets dirty.

  • FLIR31207

    Does Amazon run those EC2 instances of a solar panel and an automotive battery, too? Is that the same panel and battery that Uber’s Prius drivers use to recharge their cars?

    • Quix

      No, Amazon runs on unicorn farts and Sugar Crisp cereal.

  • Matthew Pease

    Very good you gave up A/C. You could level up like this:

    ditch the car battery & get yourself a clean lifepo4 battery. They can go down to 80% depth of discharge. Your car battery can go down to 50%. You’ll severely shorten it’s life if you go deeper.

    That’s just the battery, you’ll need electronics to charge / discharge it. To charge your lifepo4 battery, get a controller from electrodacus. This guy makes sweet electronics & very cheap for what you get.

    Your lifepo4 battery is going to be cheaper in the long run than the car battery. Actually a car battery isn’t going to last long at all. It was never designed to be discharged & recharged. Fire up google & have a good read over.

    As for laundry, you can get a $250 washer / spinner that runs off 250Watts. Get a few more solar panels. Might as well they are super cheap.


    • StoneCypher

      god forfend you level up by checking whether the things you’re doing are actually counterproductive, instead of doubling down on the insane spend before validating it

      • Matthew Pease

        better get back to that bong man

        • StoneCypher

          c’mon, you can do better than that. call me fat, say I live in my mother’s basement, question my gender preference.

          this is california. that isn’t an insult, so you can’t avoid what’s said to you by insulting the speaker that way.

          • Matthew Pease

            OK StoneCypher. I’m sorry I said that.

            You seemed to be a little knee jerk with the negativity. I’ve known smokers who can really go off in some negative direction & so that & your sign on led me to think you may be smoking a little too much of the green. Sorry to jump to conclusions.

          • StoneCypher

            it’s remarkable that you think that’s an apology

  • Chris White

    Congratulations! You’ve invented consumption laundering!

    • Cruxius

      He’s going to go to space where can get all his new clothes delivered to him. Stop being jealous.

      • johnwilliams713

        In space, no one can hear your fridge motor running

        • Quix

          A fridge motor in space would be counter-productive. If you’re paying for all the heat you’re using, why pay again to cool some of it down again.

          • Dan DeSloover

            Because although we think of space being cold, it’s really neither hot nor cold. And ironically it’s devilishly difficult to get rid of excess heat in space simply because there’s nothing there like air or coolant to carry it off and away. Think of it like the world’s best insulated Thermos bottle.

    • JD

      Mad all I can do is upvote you when this deserves a medal.

    • yun naf

      Wouldn’t it be better to give up coffee and live in an clothing optional complex?
      How about growing lettuce and carrots using solar power?

      • Clothing can be simple, consider Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg wear the same “uniform” every day. Clothes should be a trivial component of life. Exercise and fitness is far more important. 50/50 cotton/polyester T-shirt and nylon shorts or pants will last a long time.

        • Rich Baldry

          So clothing and food has no aesthetic value but the beauty of flame over LED is justification for a gas stove?

          • J Tray

            The justification was that the flame stove was much more efficient than a keurig, and the flame having more aesthetics than an LED was a bonus. You’re comparing apples to oranges here.

          • Ralph Martin

            Except that stove is less efficient than a Keurig (electric kettle), even when incorporating all losses on the way and double counting the biggest one as the author does.

          • Troy Johnson

            I don’t think you get the whole “Keurig uses cups” thing

          • Ralph Martin

            explain relevance here.

          • Ralph Martin

            The K cup is irrelevant. I don’t think you get why 🙁

          • I’d be more impressed if his water heating needs were via the same solar source. I could use a diesel generator and be free of the grid too, but not in the spirit of things.

            And, despite what your teacher told you, you can compare apples and oranges. You can compare the amount of juice the provide, the vitamin contents or even how hard you can hit somebody with one at a distance.

          • Troy Johnson

            Why use solar for heat when you have geothermal?

          • Julien Pierre

            My induction cooktop is far more efficient than the Keurig for boiling water, and far safer than the gas stove. Don’t think you can run it on straight DC power, though 🙂

            But it works fine with my (grid tied) solar PV system, and micro inverters.

          • A. Savetti

            People wear clothes to make themselves look better.

        • testtesttest

          hanging yourself can also be simple, please consider it

        • Origami_Isopod

          You sound like one of those dudes who wears a T-shirt and jeans to a wedding and whines when people give you dirty looks.

          • What the guests wear to a wedding impacts the duration of the marriage, right? But this is 2015. Weddings are for gays. I’m straight.

          • OMla

            No offense intended for the author, but that kind of life (probably?) makes him a repellent to social life and weddings even more.

    • How do you mean? As in just externalising your pollution elsewhere?

    • lkcl

      actually if you read the jack reacher books you’ll find that buying new clothes is a quirk of that character’s nature, which becomes an amusing part of the stories. when asked about it, the character asks people how much they pay on a house, on rates, on electricity, on insurance, on laundry and inconvenience…

  • I’ll donate 500 to a charity or cause of your choice to have a soylent lunch and a home tour!

  • LutherZBlissett

    If you want to shape your lived environment to fit a particular set of mental quirks, that’s entirely your call, but don’t act like it’s unambiguously righteous. It’s not ascetic to offload consumption elsewhere: there are lots and lots of externalities not factored into that equation.

    • foljs

      Mention a few and make the calculations.

      • LutherZBlissett

        “Even just sharing cars, like with Uber, instead of owning one, that’s still a huge consumption/environmental saving.”

        Even that’s not as clear-cut as you like: Uber expects its drivers to buy new / late-model cars (and has dubious financing deals for them) so that’s an environmental cost. It’s not a network based upon 2003 Accords and 2001 Camrys. Drivers are also expected to drive from place to place in search of rides with surge pricing, even if the app lies to them about demand. That has a cost.

        This doesn’t touch upon the viral ad for Soylent 2.0, which, by replacing a bagged powder with a bottled liquid, makes hypocrites out of Rhinehart and his business.

        So stop trying to defend the indefensible. Rhinehart has a set of intense sensory dislikes and is experimenting with his lifestyle to minimize exposure to them. That’s fine enough. It’s not something that scales, it’s not living in the future, and it’s not a model for anyone who isn’t pretty far along the spectrum.

        • Trent

          All human activity has an environmental cost. In lieu of a systematic and quantitative comparison of the costs of different activities, there’s no way to know what’s more or less environmentally friendly.

          Soylent 2.0 simply by being vegan is almost certainly much, much more environmentally friendly than any food containing meat or cheese, since animal agriculture is one of the planet’s single greatest emitters of greenhouse gases. It’s introducing vegan sustenance into the diets of lots of people who wouldn’t eat vegan otherwise. So, in the net, it’s environmental impact is probably very, very good, and way better than most of the food people eat every day.

          As for Uber, I don’t really know, but simply pointing out that it has a cost doesn’t tell us whether it’s more or less environmentally friendly than people owning and driving their own cars. Just speaking hypothetically, if an Uber driver can drive 10 people around every day, and they, like Rob, decide to Uber all the time instead of owning a car, then the net result is 9 fewer cars on the road. If you’re worried about the number of cars being manufactured and bought, Uber might be just the thing to improve that situation. I don’t know, but it doesn’t make sense to me to say it has a cost and leave it at that. Even the ideal city built around environmental friendliness, with ideal transport, infrastructure, power generation, and so on has a cost. Everything has a cost. A better question is does it have less of a cost than what we’re doing now.

  • Alex Harvey

    you’re a fucking hilarious individual. Lemme pat you on the head slowly

  • NetscapePizza

    Sounds like a waking hell to be honest, denying yourself so many of lifes pleasures just to uphold “muh smug self powered” fantasy.

    Of course white SF dudebros will circlejerk till they’re red raw over this nonsense.

    “Thanks to synthetic fabrics it takes less water to make my clothes than it would to wash them, and I donate my used garments, helping out those in need.”

    You’re ABSOLUTELY DELUSIONAL, you’re sitting here smugly proclaiming this as a good thing when some poor kid somewhere has to stitch you a new shirt every time yours get dirty. Christ fuck SV fuck SF, the crash can’t come soon enough to destroy these delusional manchildren’s misguided idea of “doing good”

    • LutherZBlissett

      To be fair to Rhinehart, he clearly finds “so many of life’s pleasures” painful and disgusting. To be equally fair, if he wants to live in a space designed without a kitchen, he should change places with somebody living in an efficiency who desperately wants somewhere to cook.

      • lilmookie

        Actually a lot of places in Ny and Tokyo have minimal kitchen space because people go out to eat. It’s not even a new concept.

        • LutherZBlissett

          Actually, lots of people in NY and Tokyo have minimal kitchen space *because living space there is really expensive*.

          That’s beside the point: In the developed world, there are many more poor people who spend more than they need because they lack adequate cooking facilities than there are rich people who can do just fine without them.

      • Clara Listensprechen

        Not only that, but eating at the neighborhood greasy spoon diner suits him. God help the woman who fancies him but is an artist in the kitchen. She’d do better finding a better mate than this guy.

        • foljs

          Yes, because gettting married is all about being able to express yourself in the kitchen…. What century is this, the18th?

          • I am a dude and I could not live without a proper kitchen. There are many people who like food and eating…

            That GP mentioned a woman is purely based on the fact that Rhinehart is a male and on the reasonable assumption the he is heterosexual. But no, you had to make is sexist.

    • Yeah, replacing clothing rather than washing can’t possibly be more efficient. Nylon shorts/pants (common for camping) are a better solution. They dry quickly.

    • SuperMatt

      One of the best comments I’ve read this year.

    • Quix

      Laundry isn’t even hard. If everything you buy is synthetic all you need to do is put it in the automated machine with detergent, come back when it comes out and put it into the dryer on low. Laundry is the easiest thing ever.

      • johngf

        With a small amount of clothes, especially in LA, you don’t even need a drier, just hang a string across a room. With only a few synthetic garments, you don’t even need a washing machine.

    • Origami_Isopod

      Indeed, I found this post of his here Spare us from these manchildren who think that women’s work is demeaning and any sort of sensual pleasure soils them.

      • skewp

        That twitter poster is just as delusional as Rhinehart. Rhinehart thinks these activities are tedious for *everyone*, because he finds them tedious. He feels like a pack animal at the grocery store, so he thinks *everyone else* must also think that way, men and women alike. It’s not that he’s sexist or misogynistic, it’s that he’s completely narcissistic. If it comes off as misogynistic, it’s simply that he hasn’t considered that a woman might think differently than him, or have different needs or desires than him, because he hasn’t considered that *anyone* thinks differently than him or has different needs or desires than him. He truly thinks he is “freeing” people from the “drudgery” of “having to” prepare meals.

        He’s a narcissistic moron, and probably a high functioning autistic, but I haven’t seen much evidence that he’s a sexist or misogynist. Certainly not from this article. He doesn’t expect women to do these tasks. He expects poor people or robots to do them (he probably doesn’t really see a difference between the two). Note that he also doesn’t expect to drive himself around in a car. How does driving a car fit into not wanting to do work traditionally associated with female gender roles?

        You know, I just came to a realization: It’s not that he doesn’t want to do “women’s work”, it’s that he doesn’t want to do *servants’* work. Cooking, laundry, driving. These are all things that traditionally a wealthy man would have their servants do. Not their wife.

        • disqus_Ysg3mo4g2J

          Narcissism and misogyny most often co-occur. I agree with your assessment that he seems fundamentally driven by narcissism. I found out about Soylent from a narcissist who was taking advantage of me. Weird eating habits are also apparently a common trait, as is being an ignorant asshole, but I digress. Carry on.

      • Since when is doing the laundry and grocery shopping “woman’s work”?

        • maniacprovost

          Based on cave paintings and some paleolithic dig sites, about 60,000 BC.

    • James Fallon

      “some poor kid somewhere has to stitch you a new shirt every time yours get dirty.”

      Are you seriously this ignorant about how labor in China works?

    • Julien Pierre

      Please, don’t lump everyone in SV or SF with the author. Some of us know better !
      Also, I believe the author lives in LA.

    • lilolme

      I wouldn’t do this but let him try it and see what works. If he can achieve a minimalist lifestyle (+/- some inefficiencies) it might be useful lessons for space travel or a highly congested environment in some developing countries. This is obviously an ad for his product and I doubt that he will live like this forever. However, he might experiment here and there and find a good middle ground. Anyway its his choice and he is getting rid of some distractions. He is not killing anyone. He might come up with some clever solutions that could benefit a lot of people, if he can bottle his lifestyle into product.

  • stephensebro

    Where do you get your clothes made? I’m definitely interested in a custom wardrobe.

    • StoneCypher

      it’s called a “tailor”

      they turn out to be common

      • Steve

        Where do I download the app for that? Does it come in a monthly box? Do I have to see the person making the clothes (just kidding, that would be absurd!)

        • StoneCypher

          The guy behind Men’s Wearhouse is actually making this app (it’s called zTailors,) and yes, and no

        • disqus_Ysg3mo4g2J

          You find a service online. Every couple months, you get an opportunity to go meet some creepy Thai dude in a cheesy airport hotel who takes your measurements, while you hope this wasn’t just a front for human trafficking. Then hope for the best with your purchases. About 60% luck here, but only tried one company and the things that fit are designed to my exact specifications. It was somewhat more expensive than I was expecting but less than hiring a local tailor and they keep your measurements on file so you can order new stuff. I’m a besuited woman though — they may do better with menswear. The company I went with did not understand the concept of bust darts in ladies’ dress shirts, but the actual suit jackets I purchased were exactly what I wanted and absolutely perfect.

      • johnwilliams713

        This is a bad response. -10 points.

    • Nicholi

      You don’t understand, he pays prices “you wouldn’t believe” for this clothing, it’s entirely unobtainable for the non-elite.

      • Sebastian Linden

        He might mean low like you wouldn’t believe. He should clarify this. I use a quite affordable custom clothing service.

        • Leah Silver Graves

          Yes but chances are you keep the clothing and you don’t throw it away instead of washing it. 🙂

          • Sebastian Linden

            Those chances are high indeed 🙂 . I don’t like to throw things away that are perfectly fine. And when it comes to clothing, well, dry cleaning is a thing.

      • Sebastian Linden

        even if that were true stephensebro might be part of the elite. You don’t know.

  • Swdoc Dvmee

    My god these posts are such wonderful reads. Please make more of them! 🙂

  • Vontre

    Who doesn’t like grocery stores? What in the world? It’s a giant building filled with food! Every kind of delicious, life giving food you could want! And there’s no rotting flesh, what the hell are you on?

    • KickFailure

      Going to the grocery store is what ordinary peasants do!

      Doing it this way requires a lot more human labor (not his!), and burns more fossil fuels, but at least he doesn’t have to waste a single second of *HIS* precious life.

      • ASG

        No, no, not peasants. DONKEYS. In his own words, it’s pack-donkeys that go to the grocery store.

        • Robotra

          As long as I get waffles in the morning, I’m OK with being a donkey.

  • So, you’re totally against people shopping at grocery stores (“I cannot in good conscience force a fellow soul through this gauntlet”), but you’re super A-OK with kids and/or very low-paid adults making unlimited custom clothing for you in Chinese sweatshops?

    If this is what Soylent does to people who drink it, thanks, but I think I’ll pass.

    • Martin Bogomolni

      It’s not the Soylent. Nothing he’s doing is particularly energy, or for that matter, earth friendly. Even the production of Soylent is not earth-friendly. It’s convenient, but if you study how the ingredients are made in the first place .. the amount of energy used to make Soylent has no particular advantage.

      • Clara Listensprechen

        Same is true regarding the manufacture of silicon-based solar panels. That requires not just lots of energy but lots of water, too.

        • Ralph Martin

          Not really, EROI for modern panels is about a year. For the rest of their 20 to 50 year life they make an energy surplus. Water use is not significant in modern cSi production, mostly closed loop systems…

          However if he really did buy (as he brags about) a Chinese panel that was built in China but fraudulently passed though Malaysian customs, they he probably purchased an extremely inferior product that was made using old, inefficient, energy intensive equipment.

          But this is in line with most of his decisions. While the dedication to low energy is commendable, bundling it with other decisions that burden others significantly devalues his position (and eviscerates his self righteousness) We have a good concept for that type of behavior. Parasitic.

          • erniebornheimer

            “other decisions that burden others”

            Please say more.

          • Ralph Martin

            Externalizing the negative consequences of his actions, including buying potentially illegal panels, importing Chinese clothes, eating factory processed goo, and cooking with a camping stove. Probably every one of these things ends up squandering more resources than just using the normal systems to reduce consumption.

          • “ILLEGAL PANELS” – They took muh jerb! Why would anyone care about the legality of the panels? Illegal usually means tax free, which means he isn’t funding the government, the biggest suckhole of humanity.

          • Ralph Martin

            I think your anti-government screed would be best re purposed elsewhere.

            >Why would anyone care about the legality of the panels?

            I suppose for the hopelessly ignorant clowns like yourself, there may be no reason to care. But for those of us who do care about the efficiency of markets, the necessity of regulation, and the effectiveness of government policies, we can recognize counter productive situations, such as a foolish collections of subsidies for solar power contrasted by silly protectionist international trade rules. In other words, we’re probably on the same side of this argument, but you’re a stupid little prick starting half-baked internet arguments on subjects and with opponents about which you know nothing.

          • Apologies if my wording offended you. I didn’t really have the time to go in depth, and this is the internet after all, but this is a topic I’ve spent a good amount of time studying; in particular efficiency of markets and economics. I also study effectiveness of government policies and alternatives to regulation. This isn’t really the forum for that discussion but I could lead you to some resources if you want to learn more. I really didn’t make much of an argument, more of a question and appeal. Sounds like we agree on some of the problems anyways, I just went a little further than you are comfortable with. I however, did not resort to name calling. Peace.

      • Troy Johnson

        No, it’s the Soylent. It’s made from people, and that will undoubtedly cause some mental problems. Especially the Green edition.

      • lm

        @martinbogomolni:disqus I’d be genuinely interested to know how the ingredients are made, what type of labour is involved and how much energy. Do you have any details, specific examples or stats?

    • tmosley

      These days, clothing is made by machines. Much cheaper than child labor.

      • lilmookie

        Machines and a huge upfront cost- require milling and transportation and training to use. They need parts maintenance and upkeep. They are bested used to make billions of identical things. They might be useful in textile creation but not so much in the cutting/sewing of clothes. Humans are better for this, cheaper, and expendable.

        • Quix

          T-Shirts can and often are totally automated, but I do agree that because of the demands of the fashion industry most clothes are made by hand. That may change soon, because of the advances in flexible manufacturing. The second shipping costs more than automated factories closer to the customer trends will reverse themselves.

          • Julien Pierre

            A carbon tax would go a long way in making shipping more expensive.

          • Or how about remove all taxes so we aren’t subsidizing carbon releasing industries. Road infrastructure is a huge subsidy of the auto industry, including trucking. The idea that a tax to subsidize the industry got us here but somehow another tax is going to get us out is ludicrous. Tax money just goes to the government which squanders it, subsidizes industry (also a squandering) or puts it towards war.

      • foljs

        Ever seen a clothes factory in China or anywhere else for that matter?

        Very few parts of it don’t involve tons of low wage humans toiling over ….

      • Troy Johnson

        Didn’t he JUST SAY that clothes were made by hand?

    • mindctrl

      This piece is just an ad for Soylent.

      • meh

        An extremely ineffective ad for Soylent.

        • gavingreenwalt

          An AC powered ad for Soylent.

        • Julien Pierre

          Well, it’s so outrageous made us come here and comment.
          It sure won’t make me buy Soylent, though.

        • Crenando

          no such thing as bad publicity for semen drinks

    • john

      What is disturbing is your first world ignorant attitude of “how dare those quaint poor people are working in factories for low wages, why cant they work in an office like us?” it reminds me of peter griffith “You know what grinds my gears? people from the 19th century. I mean hello! they are called cars people! way faster than buggies.”

      As if when the factories are closed or if we stopped buying from sweatshops some nice high paid jobs would magically appear for those people to work. Your idiocy takes the cake.

      • WithheldName

        Subsistence farming was more ecologically sustainable than industrialization.

        • john

          im sure the feast and famine cycle of pre-industrial farming would be great for ecology. nature does tend to like survival of the fittest principles

  • digler99

    > fire is much more beautiful than blinking LEDs.

    Fire is also a …fire hazard. If everyone did this in the city the size of LA, the consequence would be an unnecessary death toll. There already is a death toll in 3rd world countries where they dont have lights and use torches. People dying in house fires doesn’t really seem like “conservation” if you ask me.

    • Matias Furia

      Easy there, pal. Around here stoves mostly use natural gas and the city isn’t always on fire. (There are around 3 million people living in Buenos Aires, around four times that moving through every day)

  • the smug cloud over your apartment must be HUGE!

    • He’s just a little ahead of the curve I guess.

  • Scott

    Your intentions seem well meaning, but you should stop sending unwashed clothes to the needy immediately. That’s awful.
    Your clothing strategy, as a whole, needs to be re-examined.

  • StoneCypher

    Your natural gas coffee nonsense almost certainly obliterates your other carbon savings

    It’s really easy to feel like you’ve done something good when you don’t measure the outcome

    • tmosley

      Uhh, that’s a TINY amount of gas he’s using there. You think you produce more carbon when you burn something in your home rather than 25 miles away at a power plant?

      • LutherZBlissett

        How did the gas bottle reach his apartment? Magic?

        • tmosley

          Delivered once every so often. Doesn’t cost much in terms of money or energy. And you are focusing on a single aspect that wasn’t just DRASTICALLY reduced. The others are a lot more important.

          • LutherZBlissett

            “Doesn’t cost much in terms of money or energy.”

            Costs *something*. And that’s not a big gas bottle, either. Probably needs refilling or replacing often given how he’s heating the room as much as he is the water.

            ” And you are focusing on a single aspect”

            Because there are a lot of “single aspects” that are conveniently ignored. If I stop eating meals but don’t keep count of snacks, I’m not on a diet.

          • Julien Pierre

            It may be small overall compared to all the other enormities like the clothes, but it’s still fair game to mention it.

      • GuillaumeNWR

        Given that the butane he’s burning in his kitchen has probably traveled way more than 25 miles, the answer is most definitely “yes”.

        • tmosley

          Shipping something on a truck doesn’t use much energy, so long as its not the only thing on the truck. And there are almost certainly places that refill bottles within a few miles of him.

          • Clara Listensprechen

            Review your physics, please–the heavier the load, the more energy it takes to transport that load. Ever do foot-pound exercises? You should.

          • Alex Ianus

            Once the truck is moving, all the diesel being burned is done so to overcome rolling friction and air resistance which scale negligibly with the size of the load.

      • Clara Listensprechen

        You forget all the electricity it takes to run the pump to compress that gas into that canister. And to manufacture that canister. And pressure test that canister before it gets shipped to the gas man. And the shipping transport. He could do better putting his cup of coffee in the sun under a magnifying glass.

      • Robotra

        Yes, because of economies of scale.

      • StoneCypher

        One: yes

        Two: if he’s in America, only about half of it comes from carbon anyway

        Three: the function has nothing to do with it being 25 miles away; it has to do with “do I think a half billion dollar power plant is more efficient than some $20 open air walmart butane burner”

        Four: what, did you think it took a larger amount of some other fuel?

        Five: no, that’s actually not a tiny amount of gas.

  • blueducklegs

    Wow, you have absolutely no concept of externality and you don’t even understand the first law. You’re a clinical narcissist, trapped in your own delusions. The morally superior tone of writing but lack of significant achievements to back it up (you don’t even understand basic high school science), combined with the inability to see the effect of anything that doesn’t directly relate to you, you, and more you, are dead giveaways. Quite entertaining!
    You should probably get that checked out. I feel very sorry for everyone around you.

    • eka808

      You, you you you…
      Everybody can live the way they want no ? Definitively it’s more stupid accusing like that that doing what he does…

      • tom dissonance

        no, it’s really not.

  • Eugene Yee

    you are my hero @johnwilliams713:disqus

    • johnwilliams713

      This is the only comment worth reading on this entire page.

  • Mary Branscombe

    yeah, the US is comically bad at efficient energy distribution but do you not think that it takes AC to make Soylent? or to run the restaurants you eat in? or the sweatshop where you have your clothes made that you’re too amazing to take to a laundromat, since you think shared resources are somehow free of all energy debt 😉 it’s great you want a lower energy footprint – why not go research the actual ways to achieve this?

    • allaneq

      Luckily, the sweatshop where his clothes are lovingly handcrafted for a sub-working wage is an authentic sweatshop, and does not feature air conditioning.

      I can’t believe anyone would try labeling a place with air conditioning a sweatshop…

      • Seth Rosenblum

        Uh, I think when she said AC she meant Alternating Current…like the article title?

      • Mary Branscombe

        AC. Alternating Current. As in the thing he claims in the title to be giving up…

    • Trent

      It takes a lot less energy to make Soylent than to make a cheeseburger!

      • Mary Branscombe

        yes, having a single cup rather than a whole pot *totally* counts as giving up coffee.

        • Trent

          Nobody can bring their ecological footprint down to zero, the best we can hope to do is reduce it.

      • Mary Branscombe

        Also, do you have the energy stats on that or are you just assuming?

        • Trent

          Soylent is made from plants — soy, rice, and oats, to name a few — and plants have a lower environmental impact than animals. Here are some estimates (

          “Pork, chicken, dairy and eggs are equivalent within a factor of two when it came to their environmental burdens, the authors determined. But beef requires far, far more resources than any of those other protein categories. The team calculated that beef requires 28 times more land, six times more fertilizer and 11 times more water compared to those other food sources. That adds up to about five times more greenhouse gas emissions.

          To further put these findings into perspective, the authors also ran the same calculations for several staple crops. All told, on a calorie-to-calorie basis, potatoes, wheat and rice require two to six time less resources to produce than pork, chicken, eggs or dairy.”

          According to the headline, beef uses ten times as many resources as pork, chicken, eggs, or dairy. So, the aforementioned staple crops must use twenty to sixty times less resourced than beef. Since Soylent is made of crops like rice, there’s no question that it requires far less resources to produce, on a per calorie basis, than a cheeseburger.

          Of course, this is anything specific to Soylent. A bowl of rice, on a per calorie basis, is a lot less resource intensive than a cheeseburger too. The general point is that plants are less resource intensive than animals.

          Soylent also uses algal oil as an alternative source of fatty acids to fish oil. I don’t have any specific numbers for this, but I have to think that growing algae is less resource intensive than farming fish.

          • Mary Branscombe

            so no, you have no figures that are relevant. For example, you’re not accounting for the lead and cadmium levels in Soylent.

          • Trent

            Huh? I thought we were talking about the amount of energy used to produce Soylent versus other foods. I was just pointing out that plant-based foods like Soylent use a lot less energy than animal-based foods like cheeseburgers.

            What do lead and cadmium have to do with Soylent’s energy use? Those aren’t ingredients — it’s not like we have to factor in the energy used by lead and cadmium mines that extract those metals for use in Soylent.

            Lead and cadmium occur naturally in the soil, so crops grown in the soil will often contain tiny trace amounts of lead and cadmium. Since Soylent is made primarily from crops like rice, soy, and oats, that is most likely the source of the tiny trace amounts of lead and cadmium in Soylent.

            By the way, the amount of lead and cadmium in Soylent is well within the safe limits allowed by the FDA, as well as by Canadian and European regulators. California has a law that requires all food with with tiny trace amounts of lead and cadmium (above a certain extremely small amount) to be labelled — even if the amounts are well within the safe limits srt by the FDA et. al. — but still allows that food to be bought and consumed. So, it is commonplace in California to see foods in grocery stores with labels about their lead and cadmium content. Soylent is not out of the ordinary in this regard compared to other foods.

          • Trent

            Could you explain why you think my figures are not relevant? I thought I explained myself pretty clearly, and I think my reasoning is sound: plant-based food uses less energy than animal-based food, Soylent is plant-based food, cheeseburgers are animal-based food, therefore Soylent uses less energy than cheeseburgers. I don’t understand the reasoning behind your assertion that the figures about plant-based food vs. animal-based food are not relevant.

          • Mary Branscombe

            because much like the author, you are taking general principles and claiming they apply to a specific case without producing any actual evidence specific to the situation.

  • KickFailure

    Alternative Article Title : “How I used my money to create a life filled with the luxuries I’ve always wanted, and the preposterous justifications I use to pretend it’s not selfish.”

  • Brant Martin

    You lost me at paragraph 2. You’ve pulled all those numbers right out of your ass. For one thing, all modern USB chargers (in fact, EVERY USB charger as far as I’m aware) uses a switch-mode topology to convert from 120VAC to 5VDC. Efficiency is EASILY 80%, usually closer to 90-95%.

    Powerline loss from plant to substation is also minimal, because those lines use extremely high voltage to counteract the resistance in the metal. A fair bit of energy is lost in the two-three layers of transformers between your house and the plant, but not 80%, that sort of claim is just insanity. If losses were that high, there would not BE centralized power, it wouldn’t be economically possible.

    You’re the most pretentious of assholes, and the grandest of idiots. I really wish I had never read the fever-dream keyboard mashing that you call ‘writing’.

    • Josh_Perry

      I can’t get enough of this comment! Thank you for making my day under the drudge of electricity a little more bearable.

    • pbreit

      “This means for 100watts of coal or oil burned my phone gets a mere 16.”

      That’s actually about right. You’re off on USB efficiency, it’s more like 65-80%. Not sure what you’re referring to in your other point as it doesn’t really compare to what was originally stated. He only says 5% is lost from station to house.

    • Shadywack

      This comment needs upvoted more. I’m glad I scrolled this far.


        This entire comment thread is amazing. Smart, humorous analysis of what simply boils down to a person writing “I’m quirky. Like that character on ‘Better Call Saul’.

        Although he likely wouldn’t say that, because he doesn’t cower around an altar-like “black hole” in his living room watching ‘Better Call Saul’ to know the character.

        • harryceira

          I spent longer on the comments than the article yesterday, and came back today to check for updates.

    • derp

      Hey Derp, 80% efficiency is the same as 20% lost.

    • Trent

      What an unnecessarily mean comment. Come on. It really disheartens me to see this.

      How is this blog post pretentious? He’s just documenting his weird obsession with efficiency. I never got the sense from reading that he felt himself superior or that other people should make the same choices he’s made. Being pretentious means acting like you’re smarter or more important or in some other way better than other people. It means not seeing other people as your equals who deserve the same respect and esteem that you do. It doesn’t just mean being different or unusual, or having strong opinions about things. I read this post as being completely sincere, and not at all looking down on other people. I did find it a little odd, but I don’t think people should be attacked just for being odd.

      And “the grandest of idiots”, really? Wouldn’t the grandest of idiots be someone who has never thought about things like the efficiency of power transmission lines? It’s easy to make a mistake when dealing with such complex information, especially in a casual context like a back-of-the-envelope calculation for a blog post. For example, I think you made a mistake in thinking that Rob is claiming that 80% of power is lost between power plant and home. From what I understand, he said it was only 5%. (But I might be wrong.) Does that small mistake make you “the grandest of idiots”? Of course not. A person isn’t an idiot just because they make one minor mistake when talking about a complex subject. (Even Einstein published papers that contained calculation errors.)

      The dead simple wisdom that being nice is better than being mean can take you far.

  • Bob Fry

    100 watt solar panel is bullshit for the vast, vast majority of people. Why do they even publish this literally useless crap? There is no insight here, nothing useful for anybody.

    • Sebastian Linden

      He always gets me thinking about things I would have never thought about. If you don’t like his writing why are you here? There must be blogs out there that are right for you.

      • StoneCypher

        whereas i’m not exactly standing up for grandparent post, criticism of drek is valuable

  • Ryan_Williams

    Thanks so much for taking the time out of your day (doing what?) to craft this amazing piece of prose. It has truly lifted my spirits and will help carry me through the rest of my daily carbon-burning existence.

    • Sebastian Linden

      Running a company!

      • walknseason


        • Trent

          Rob Rhinehart is the CEO of Rosa Labs.

  • tonybentley

    Google requires 12.5 million watts just to stay online so you can nerd out on your computer. There is nothing you can do other than live in a mud hut and live your life without clothing. You’re still a rich male american consuming at a greater rate than any other country on earth. Try living on a sailboat and eating seafood. You’ll be a few steps further than living in LA in some crappy apartment.

    • His gender’s got nothing to do with your point.

      • tonybentley

        Okay then. I will edit… You’re still a rich white american consuming at a greater rate than any other country on earth.

        • How do you know I’m rich? (cause I’m not). Or perhaps you’re just incapable of editing and weren’t referring to me. Not surprising for a dead former footballer. 🙂

          • He’s referring to the author of the article, of course. The one that’s barely distinguishable from satire.

            If you have the time, education, and resources to read and comment on articles on the Internet, you’re “rich” by world standards.

            The author of the article can afford to buy Solyent in bottles, eat out, ride Uber, play computer games, and buy new clothing when his get dirty when he’s not working on his manifesto about how little he (directly) consumes. That’s rich…in a way.

  • stryker1121

    Everyone needs to stop breathing immediately. The process of respiration kills billions of bacteria!

  • August

    Why is no one bringing up the fact he put a magnet in his hand!?!?! I read this entire silly article expecting him to touch upon that and he never did >:(

    • William S.

      Look up the stuff Zoe Quinn posted about putting a magnet in her hand. (She also put an NFC chip in her hand and gave away copies of Deus Ex via high-five.)

      • jenni

        I did not know about that second part O.O

        NFC data transfer must be really fast then

    • Leah Silver Graves

      I’m surprised that I got this far down in the comments before someone mentioned the magnet in his hand! That freaks me out.

  • August

    There are not any space capable Priuses yet either. It’s going to be a while before he can find a way into space that doesn’t in any way involve massive amounts of unclean energy.

  • Screen Name

    yeah if you actually look up the annual power consumption of Keurig-style machines it’s nowhere near that much $$.

    • Alex

      Stop ruining his ego with facts!

  • sklsjljslsjsljj

    Man, bringing clothes from China instead of cleaning does not sound very energy efficient… what would happen if all of us did that? And by the way, if those clothes are super cheap it is because someone is making 18 hour shifts for some pennies.

  • Alex

    Maybe the solution to your noisy blender is to not drink soylent. #foodforthought

    • Sebastian Linden

      He doesn’t need a blender since Soylent 2.0 comes premixed in a bottle.

      • Alex

        Which is ironic seeing how this blog is about a guy pretending to be so eco friendly. Since it comes pre-mixed in a bottle that means you’re transporting large amounts of water for no reason. Not to mention the factory that makes the bottles is not the same one that packages Soylent so when you transport the empty bottles you’re transporting mostly air.

        • Sebastian Linden

          I am not an expert on the subject but the way I understand it is that the reason for transporting the water in those bottles is so that you don’t have to mix them yourself. That might not be a reason that you like but it is a reason. And please keep in mind that most of the food we eat is very rich in water and gets transported over usually quite long distances. I have no data and I am no expert but I think we should compare the environmental impact of soylent to the environmental impact of “normal” food. I would like to see data on this but until then I withhold my judgement. Best wishes.

          • Alex

            Right so we waste a ton of energy because people don’t want to mix two substances. Do you not realize the irony of this on a blog pretending like this guy is doing the environment a favor?

          • Trent

            If you’re saying Soylent 2.0 is less energy efficient than Soylent 1.5, you might be correct. But Soylent 2.0 is still way more energy efficient than meat, cheese, milk, eggs, or any foods that contain them.

            In terms of calories and nutrients per unit of energy, Soylent 2.0 is also way more energy efficient than lettuce, and since lettuce is the main ingredient in most salads, Soylent 2.0 is more energy efficient than most salads. As Tamar Haspel says, “Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table.”

            However wasteful Soylent 2.0 might be compared to Soylent 1.5, that’s nothing compared to how wasteful a cheeseburger or a salad is compared to Soylent 2.0.

          • Alex

            You seem to miss my point. I’m not pretending to be a messiah to the clean earth project like this guy is. He’s just as bad as the rest, but he’s created a fantasy land of how good he is for the environment.

          • Trent

            Soylent is not “as bad as the rest”. A cheeseburger, for example, has twenty to sixty times the environmental footprint of the calorie equivalent in plant-based food. Soylent is plant-based, so we can conclude that its environmental footprint is twenty to sixty times less than a cheeseburger. Salads are plant-based, but since they are nutritionally and calorically empty, they are basically just a waste of resources. So, Soylent is more environmentally friendly than cheeseburgers or salads.

            Analogously, solar power has a non-zero environmental footprint, but it’s a lot better than coal. Solar power produces aren’t “just as bad” as coal power producers.

  • KickFailure

    I hate cooking, and wouldn’t really mind drinking my dinners, but every time I start to consider trying Solyant, something like this comes along to remind me of the kind of company I’d be keeping.

    The smugness I could tolerate, I’m pretty smug myself, but smugness and self-delusion don’t make an attractive combination.

    • Angela

      If you want to drink your meals you can buy Ensure or Carnation Instant Breakfast at any supermarket, or even have them delivered right to your door from Amazon. Looks like their ready-to-drink offerings are actually cheaper per calorie than soylent 2.0, and they come in a variety of flavors.

      AFAIK there is no smug self-important community of people who base their identity on drinking Ensure, lol.

      • disqus_Ysg3mo4g2J

        But if it doesn’t taste bad, I won’t get the pleasure of suffering in my misguided attempt to save the planet!

      • Chris

        Ensure is full of sugar. It’s not the same.

  • Gem

    This is great, I see a lot of applications for this for poverty alleviation in my country, which is very poor, but very sunny.

  • Ant con

    you lost me at cheap, warm, red wine

  • Stuff that randomly comes to mind:

    1. You owe William Gibson money for that intro. Not just because it’s a rip on his style, but because it’s a piss-poor shoddy rip on his style.

    2. You live in Los Angeles? With some of the most consistent sunlight on the continent, hence the solar panel? And you have an absurd phobia of supermarkets? Try doing a few vegetables in container gardens: lettuce, peppers, a tomato plant, herbs. Soil, water, sun, time, bingo! Real food! Stuff that tastes wonderful and takes no time to prepare and doesn’t require refrigeration. And isn’t a bad joke.

    3. Buy a bicycle, for God’s sake. Maybe even a used one, a nice old English three-speed or something. Classic brilliant human-powered vehicles. Screw Uber-based denialism.

    4. I can get with the red wine.

    5. “I am all for self reliance but repeating the same labor over and over for the sake of existence is the realm of robots.” So how’s that iron lung working for you? Seriously, a considered repeated exercise of a certain activity is good for the soul. We create, we refine, we consider, we expand. If you find food preparation beyond shaking up a bottle of Soylent a tedious chore I feel for you. or actually I just consider you a pedantic ass, but whatever.

    Summary: Dude, get a grip. Interesting experiment but a miserable and kinda repellent way to live.

    • KickFailure

      Better yet, buy a new bicycle every week. That way you don’t have to bother putting air in the tires. Whenever they go flat, just give the entire bicycle to charity and buy a new, custom built one from China.

    • bsanyang

      Took the words right out of my mouth. This whole piece reads like a William Gibsonesque wet dream.

  • SuperMatt

    This article reminds me of one I read a few years ago in which another self-righteous prick explained that playing poker professionally after high school instead of going to college was the true path to success for everybody.

  • perrygeo

    You could probably off-load much of your computing power to the “cloud” (where it wouldn’t implicate you), burn insects, rodents and yard waste for additional power (air quality be damned), take more uber rides (hey it’s only money; zero environmental impact woohoo), and ship crates of clothing, fuel and processed food (who cares if it’s produced by sweat labor and transported via fossil fuels from across the world).

    If you were to actually look at the data for the resources you consume, you’d find that your lifestyle is among the worst and most abhorrent of the elite of any western culture.

    • ASG

      Uber also ~coincidentally~ happens to be a company with exploitative labour practices that force people (often immigrants) to front all the risks of buying and maintaining a car while vacuuming up the lion’s share of the profits from their comfortable office chairs. It actually parallels pretty closely with Rhinehart’s own MO in this post. A white, affluent Silicon Valley dude can sit at his computer while poor people labour on his behalf.

      And then somehow, through some sort of libertarian legerdemain, that transforms into the IT dude being the boon for humanity!

      • Leah Silver Graves

        Also, he’s not saving the driving since he’s still riding in an automobile to get somewhere. It’s just someone else behind the wheel but the miles he needs to go are still being driven no matter what.

      • Trent

        “while vacuuming up the lion’s share of the profits”

        The driver gets 80% of each fare, and Uber gets 20%. So how does Uber end up with 51%+ of the profits?

        • maniacprovost

          If the gross margin is less than 40%, then 20% of the revenue is 50% of the gross profit.

  • Robert Hancock

    If this is not a tongue-in-cheek article, your figures in this sentence are likely wrong.

    “Each assembly contains around 200 fuel rods and each fuel rod contains roughly 14 million half-inch Uranium pellets”

    14 million one-half inches = 7 million inches = 177.8 km

    No fuel rod in any nuclear assembly is that long.

    I hope your other calculations are better, but as a whole, a lot of what you write makes good sense (except Soylent—get more panels and power a kitchen).

  • Clara Listensprechen

    Nice for the way you live, but the plan doesn’t cover power needed for making stuff. You know, manufacturing. And I’ll bet you didn’t know there was arsenic in them thar solar panels. Making any electronic chips with silicon wrecks the environment before the panels are manufactured, and after they’re disposed of. Try looking up the hazards of hydrofluoric acid. And arsenic, while you’re at it. Silicon technology is hazmat, bigtime. Any idea how much electricity it takes to melt and crystallize tons of silicon? Well, I do because I used to make the stuff.

  • FUD Hater

    50% energy loss from AC to DC? What century was your charger made?

  • Tim Morales

    This is satire right?

  • Jason Smith

    Nice work. Did you factor all the electricity used as people around the world read this article on their coal powered devices? 😉

  • no_play

    You do know that soy is not particularly healthy?

  • You do realize what Soylent is made from don’t you? Just ask Frank Thorn.

    • Sebastian Linden

      Since it’s vegan it’s probably made from vegans 🙂

  • rjurney

    Can you share more about your custom clothing from China? I think a lot of people would like to do that.

    • Leah Silver Graves

      Yes but most people would keep the custom made clothing from China a long time and wash between wearings. Also, most people would wash the items prior to donating them or giving them away. 🙂

      • Alex Ianus

        What’s the point of washing them before donating them? The recipients are going to wash them immediately when they get them anyways, ‘clean’ or not…

        • Leah Silver Graves

          That is true! Most people wash clothing they buy at a thrift store before wearing them. I’ve just never heard of someone donating dirty clothing before.

  • Interesting, though I’d rather have a more functional place and friends to come into my home. I’ll bet you have trouble with that part since most people won’t understand. If, and I mean if, you do something really smart like plowing the $200+ you’re saving a year into the stock market and become a millionaire, I would have real respect for you.

    • Sebastian Linden

      Do you realize that he runs his own company?

      • Origami_Isopod

        So? Is that supposed to be the one and only measure of success? The guy is a pathetic manchild who makes my skin crawl. I don’t care if he runs Apple.

  • Mike

    be cool if you shared the source for those panels, lights, etc…

  • cmreaching

    So…let’s see. You don’t eat in the conventional sense and when you do, you palm all your consumption problems off on others ( restaurants). I’ll admit, I couldn’t get past that part.

  • eee


  • Camillomiller

    Most of that sounds more like it’s made possibile by white-american-upper-class privilege than something that would/could change the way we actually live.
    But you have my compliments: I’m interested in checking out what you did with that 2.0 version of soylent. Your marketing ploy (controversial post just to go viral) worked for me.

  • Mmmmm, Horse!

    I see a person in a third world country living the exact same way, except the rather WTF laundry and Uber parts. It’s a valiant attempt to try to live off the grid and to conserve energy use, unlike most Americans who are commenting here.

    The difference being the poor person doesn’t have a choice: Their house would not even be connected to a grid, so they had to buy solar panels to charge their phones. They probably use NUCs as their main computer, if they can even afford that. Their only computer is probably a Nokia phone. And they don’t drink soylent, but probably the same tasteless and nutrition-less stew made of grinded corn for a month. They probably do rideshare. Or they just walk a few miles to work. And they probably wash their own laundry, and wear the same clothes for a whole year.

    With that said, it’s not exactly a bad thing a super rich privileged person tries to live like a poor. Aren’t we all tired of all the Kardashian McMansions living large crap already? So… in a way, I do have to give props to rich person who tries to live poor. There are flaws here and there in this strategy, but it’s still better than not trying at all.

    • Modo Grinder

      I didn’t know poor people bought new clothes every time their old ones got dirty.

      It’s not that we think we’re using less energy than this guy. The amount of energy one uses, in general, is not something people consider as a reason for someone to be a douchebag. The reason that this guy is a douchebag is because he’s using the same amount of energy (or probably more, with his habit of ordering clothes by the shipload instead of washing them, or having butane shipped to him instead of using an electric kettle) while acting smugly self-righteous and superior to everyone else. I find it amusing that you call the commenters righteous when the article is nothing but self-righteous ranting about how his way of life is so much better.

      All of that being said, I am 100% sure this article is satire. There is no way it can’t be. It is brilliantly executed satire, so I give the author props for that.

  • Dorian

    Where does one go to get clothes made to spec on a small scale in a cost-effective manner?

    I’d be interested in knowing where you order your clothes from.

  • A Guy

    The Topaz Solar Farm was unusually expensive for its capacity. It is not indicative of a “per MW” price to build a solar farm. Cut the Topaz price in half and then you are talking about what something should cost. I’ve no idea where the Topaz folks spent the extra billion. But under current solar prices the modest expenses you indicate from Amazon are more indicative and can be beat when you scale the project up. But you have to add labor and installation or racking materials and off course you left that out. But still, year, solar has gotten much more affordable.

  • Mike Hawk

    You seem to be paring down your “needs” around a very, very big and bottomless one.

  • killchen

    ahahahahahahahahahahahahaha get a grip, man

  • Ralph Martin

    Coal fuel to electric efficiency is ~32 to 55%, you seem to have double multiplied by something resembling the thermal efficiency and so significantly under estimate net efficiency.

    Furthermore, coal is minor on the Ca grid. That grid is a mix of many things (more so than other states), but natural gas is the largest, followed by renewables, probably 3 to 4 times cleaner than midwestern coal state.

    Your electric vehicle calculation also neglects that relatively “clean” nature of your CA grid.

  • mindctrl

    It’s just a Soylent ad, folks. No need to get your knickers in a twist.

  • blah

    I’ve bought and used soylent and am something of a fan, but RR, you might consider that insufferable smugness is not necessarily the best way to bring others around to your way of thinking.

    Maybe you don’t realize how precious you sound when, for example, you gloat about escaping the unbearable agony of having to endure a visit to a grocery store.

    And it would be nice if there were at least a token acknowledgement that very, very few people have the privileged luxury of even beginning to contemplate making these kinds of changes.

    Also, the space colony stuff makes you sound like a nut.

    • KickFailure

      No, it makes sense! They don’t do laundry on the Space Station, either! They send fresh clothes up from Earth at fabulous expense.

      (Of course, that’s mostly because nobody’s figured out how to build a washing machine that works safely and efficiently in space. I think somebody has already invented a washing machine that works in LA.)

  • Joshua

    I’m just picking out the ones that stick out most to me. There’s much more I could speak on from where the quotes below came.

    “I can feel the deep cut of the power bill when I was living near the poverty line.”
    Hm. Okay, I can get that.

    “First, I never cook. I am all for self reliance but repeating the same labor over and over for the sake of existence is the realm of robots.”
    I disagree. And I’m sure cave-people and neanderthals didn’t think that, but alright.

    “I buy my staple food online like a civilized person.”
    Let’s tone down the pretentiousness, sir.

    “I think it was a bit presumptuous for the architect to assume I wanted a kitchen with my apartment and make me pay for it.”
    Okay, have you considered that maybe the architect expected a normal human being to live in your apartment? Have you considered that maybe you sound a little bit like a dick here?

    “The automobile’s takeover has destroyed more than millions of lives (cars have killed far more Americans than war and AIDS combined), it has trampled the prime conduit of community in our cities and exiled us to the indoors to sit in front of televisions. [. . .] For today though, Uber works pretty well.”
    This is worse than tweeting “I hate corporations” from your iPhone, regardless of how you feel it saves you money.

    “Food can be art, and driving can be exploration, but it’s mostly manufacturing and commuting. I don’t miss them.”
    You literally just said you miss them in the previous paragraph. Get your shit together.

    “I get my clothing custom made in China for prices you would not believe and have new ones regularly shipped to me. [. . .] It bothers me immensely that all clothing is hand made.”
    While I am not sure of living or work conditions for the beloved Chinese who manufacture a vast amount of our products, you should learn to have respect. Your spouting of your desire automation in the world for the sake of efficiency or convenience is just selfish. You’d rather have your custom-made clothing manufactured within the realm of robots (see what I did there?) instead of accepting that maybe people who make clothes need a job to provide for their families.

    “Good thing I still use water, for now.”
    What, so you’re going to eventually give up on water too? Are you fucking nuts?

    “The first space colonies will have no coal power plants. I am ready.”
    Maybe we should send you to space.

    Your visions in the second-to-last paragraph are bullshit. Not only will this not happen, but your utopia is flawed. Mankind cannot 100% rely on automation. The existence of art and humanity will generate waste as it has since the beginning of time. Cultures and countries will not align with your elimination of culture and workforce. Factories, stores, jobs . . . they need to exist.

    You are one of a kind, and I’m thankful for that because I would hate to live in your world. Enjoy your soylent.

    • Trent

      “You’d rather have your custom-made clothing manufactured within the realm of robots (see what I did there?) instead of accepting that maybe people who make clothes need a job to provide for their families.”

      In 1790, 90% of the the American workforce were farmers. In 1990, only 3% of the American workforce were farmers. All those farm jobs were automated out of existence, and yet 87% of the American workforce did not become unemployed. Getting rid of awful labour like repetitive factory work is one really important way to improve people’s quality of life. Historically, automation has made people poorer due to unemployment, it has made them wealthier by making the economy more productive. So, machines and robots are our friends.

  • Michelle

    this has to be a joke. you can’t promote efficient living so righteously and turn a blind eye to how you acquire your clothing, right?

  • johnwilliams713

    I think the most important thing to take away from all of this is that you guys really loved my comments. And for that I am forever grateful.

  • rwells78

    Excellent sarcasm dude!

  • Sebastian Linden

    I would like to know where you get your clothing and what material you use. Thanks a lot. Waiting for Soylent 2.0 in europe.

  • nobodyotter

    Your cult sounds terrible.

  • testtesttest

    poe alert

  • testtesttest

    kill yourself you liberal piece of shit

  • Lydia Love

    I would imagine the space colonies will be looking for heartier stock. People who aren’t so disgusted by the smell of plant and animal matter and who can take a little compressor noise. People who will wash their clothes and get their hands dirty.

  • Gregory Lemieux

    I minor quibble: The first real space colonies are probably not going to use solar unless in sun-synchronous orbit. Any planetary colony (Moon, Mars, Venus) will likely use low efficiency nuclear RTGs. Simple, straightforward, reliable in all conditions.

  • Murktastic

    How do you think that plugging in an electric kettle is less efficient than a butane stove after factoring in how that butane tank got into your apartment?

  • Mr. Herrmateeyowish

    I hate you.

  • FlockOfSmeagols

    Really thought-provoking piece here – thank you. I’m fairly dismayed at the response that you’ve received both here and on Ars. Instead of taking a moment to think about all the ways that they could decrease their footprint, commentors are just attacking you for the ways that you’ve chosen to reduce yours – and they’re missing some great humor that’s been injected throughout the piece on top of that. I know you’ve dealt with scepticism and negativity regarding Soylent, but don’t let these people get you down or keep you from sharing your ideas in the future. Keep up the good work.

    – Werner

    • Chris

      I totally agree withe what Flock says here. (Finally, a sane person)

  • “Grocery shopping is a multisensory living nightmare. There are services that will make someone else do it for me but I cannot in good conscience force a fellow soul through this gauntlet.”
    Not everyone experiences the grocery store this way. I often find it to be a pleasant experience if the store isn’t too crowded. Sometimes I even go grocery shopping to take a break from something else. I think you might have some sensory issues.

  • Gary

    This is the funniest thing I’ve read on the Interwebs in months!
    It is a parody, isn’t it?

  • Jimbo2112

    I hope you didn’t dislocate your shoulder by patting yourself on the back.

  • hofo

    “When I want some real computing power I SSH or RDP in to an EC2 instance and have all the power I need” What about the power you use on Amazon? Using it somewhere else doesn’t mean you’re not responsible.

  • Gary

    He forgot to mention the Swedish composting toilet he installed in his apartment.

  • cdnjay

    Interesting piece, reminds me a lot of some work I was doing recently to extend how long the battery in our RV lasts while camping without services. It’s amazing how far you can go today on a 12 VDC group 24 battery with a bit of efficiency when you don’t have to generate hot and cold.

  • Varun Arora

    I have a feeling your real name is Sheldon Cooper and that you are actually in Pasadena, when you say LA.

  • shepd

    Much of your advice is dangerous. Your wiring is inadequate and could cause a fire. You are using an outdoor camping appliance that generates poisonous carbon monoxide indoors. You are only wearing new clothes without washing them which exposes you to the carcinogen formaldehyde. Your new diet is causing oliguria which can lead to UTIs and other unpleasantness. Outside of your unusual climate, no climate control will lead to mold or heatstroke.

    The fortunate thing is, apart from the fire risk, it’s unlikely you’ll harm anyone except yourself with this behaviour.

  • Bob Saget

    Or how I became a dumbass

  • you have made my day…still laughing over this. And the comments are like frosting on the cake

    • Is it that “rotting flesh” frosting I’ve been reading about lately?

  • HOBS

    I know people with extremely environmentally friendly lifestyles. You, on the other hand, are just being weird for the sake of weird.

  • We ultimately shouldn’t be seeking to minimize energy consumption, but to maximize automated efficiency, even if it happens to be on a large scale. Rolling back technological and societal progress that improves our lives, is not progress. In energy we just need to look for the most efficient, cost effective means that generate the least pollution. Pollution as defined as substances that do direct harm to humans or plants/animals that they depend on. Not things like co2 – co2 and carbon in general is not pollution, while sulfur dioxide is pollution etc.

  • DVDxR

    “I get my clothing custom made in China for prices you would not believe and have new ones regularly shipped to me.”

    So mind sharing where you get them from?

  • edwin eefting

    Not having kids is the best thing you can do for the environment.

    • lola butt

      I don’t think reproducing is really a thing this guy is going to have to worry much about.

  • lorq

    Fascinated by all the *policing* of Rhinehart on this thread. Feels like junior high school. One would hope people here would discuss how they’ve changed their own consumption patterns, but *that* sure isn’t going to happen. I mean, why risk being the target of the hostility you yourself are dishing out?

    • LutherZBlissett

      Rhinehart is selling (with millions of dollars of VC backing) a geek Ensure derived from his own food/cooking/supermarket-averse lifestyle. He has just switched from selling that food-related product in powder form — where it had some vague claims to efficiency in storage and delivery — to selling it in plastic bottles. His lifestyle is bound up with his product.

    • And here you are, criticizing people not discussing their change in consumption patterns, while not discussing your change in consumption patterns.

  • gavingreenwalt

    I hope Soylent isn’t as scientifically sound as your analysis exhibited in this blog. Let me specifically address this claim:
    ‘Charging an 85kWh Tesla would still burn the equivalent of 10 gallons of oil at the power plant.[a] With a range of 265 miles the Tesla Model S really uses 26.5 mpg, barely over the average american fuel economy of 23.6 mpg.’

    You do realize that automobiles don’t run on Oil right? A Gallon of Gasoline (what cars use as fuel, not oil) is made from about 2.5 gallons of Oil. That means you have to multiply your oil consumption for a gasoline powered automobile to be on average 23.6 / 2.5 = 9.44 Miles per Crude Gallon. So by comparison the Tesla is doing way better at 26.5 MPCrudeGallon.

    And that ignores important details like efficiency of a large turbine converting 1 gallon of fuel into energy vs a small ICE converting 1 gallon of fuel into energy.

  • BuckRogers

    That kitchen situation only works if you have no idea what good food or quality of life is. My wife grew up cooking in a kitchen with her grandmother and mother. I eat better than an American chef can produce, I know because we love good food and it’s extremely hard to find in the US. Only a chef from a Latin region can prepare better food, I live in Europe and am American. But 99% of Americans have no access to good food and think good food is what is trash over here. Yes, even in LA but I bet this guy thinks In-N-Out Burger is anything other than trash on trash.
    You have to be an uncultured, tasteless nerd could live this way drinking “soylent”.

    I love what the OP has done in principle, in agreement on reducing waste/dependence. But there is a lot of shifting a lot of his needs off elsewhere. May as well utilize the grid since it’s always going to be more efficient than personal power plants (like an ICE or fuel for that burner), it’s one of the best accomplishments we have as mankind. An ICE powered vehicle may be evil, but a clean power grid isn’t. Get more solar panels and the Tesla home battery. The poor food and quality of life is not necessary.
    Adding a family will stop this too. FFS with the soylent. May as well go kill yourself. Bring back real food made by people to be enjoyed, the lost art we’re losing very fast. Not treat one of life’s great pleasures as a bother to be fulfilled by some soy product.

    • KickFailure

      It’s not required that all people care about all forms of pleasure and/or art. (For example, if I wanted poetry, I’d turn to dirty limericks, not Shakespeare’s sonnets, and I wouldn’t need the likes of you berating me for it. )

      Not wanting to bother with things you don’t care about is the only part of this entire article that makes any sense!

  • Dr Tune

    TL;DR – “I get up, I drink some Soylent, then I think about fantastic eco-stuff and maybe have some more Soylent. After that I ditch another piece of lame, outdated loser-technology so I can spend more time drinking Soylent. I really like Soylent. Did I mention that? Soylent’s yummy. Here’s a picture of a nuclear power plant and an electricity-generating Soylent-sorry-Solar panel. All this typing about my super life is making me really thirsty – the answer? Soylent! It’s made from The Future and it’s available at Next year I’ll be moving into my new house which is built entirely from Soylent bottles. It’s SO tasty! Yummy Soylent Try it now!”

  • Gnoll110

    Strikes me as being the mindset of a lower status late Edo period(1603-1868) samurai.
    That mix of keeping up most of the pleasures associated with tradition/position, while doing it on a limited income (resources).

    Doing without AC is much like taking an income cut and deciding to do without one major thing, then rearranging the household’s operations to cope. The start of the Edo period is interest. Prior to that Japan had over exploited it’s forests, there were serous erosion problems, falling food production and 8 million people. Changes in practices meant that be the 1860’s, it forests had recovered (while still being regularly harvested) and could sustain a population of 30 million. Azby Brown’s writings on the period are enlightening.

  • Somebody_Else

    Great, you’ve gone off the grid. So what’s new and cool about that? Also, I’m hoping you understand why it’s not viable for many people, even if they can afford the cost of investment in that infrastructure. Of course, the headline makes it seem as though you don’t like AC power, but it’s actually very efficient for certain things, especially the transmission of electricity.
    I’m just pointing that out, and I’m not even going to say anything, good or bad, about the rest of the article.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Julien Pierre

    “Power generation produces 32% of all greenhouse gases, more than any other economic sector. “

    Actually, energy supply represents 26% of global greenhouse gases emissions.

    Source : .

  • Julien Pierre

    “Most power in the US is generated by burning coal“.

    Actually, coal represented 39% of US electric generation in 2014 – that is not “most power”.

    Source :

    And that proportion is declining fairly fast.

  • Julien Pierre

    “This means for 100 watts of coal or oil burned my phone gets a mere 25. “

    Some funny math is going on here. Using your own numbers of 67% loss from burning coal,
    50% loss from a steam turbine, 5% loss from transmission lines, and 20% loss from a cell phone charger, I get 0.33 * 0.5 * 0.95 * 0.8 = 12.54% efficiency. Not 25%.

  • “Thanks to synthetic fabrics it takes less water to make my clothes than it would to wash them, and I donate my used garments.”
    It would be a good thing if your clothes were made out of water. They still have to be produced from raw materials, which may not be that environmentally friendly compared to washing them.
    And, even though you donate the clothes to others, if everyone followed your lifestyle, there would be more clothes being donated that being used by those you donate to, thus creating disposal problems.

    Are the electric cars you are being driven around in charged up from the grid or by people’s own solar cells?

    And do you enjoy the smell of your own farts?

    • Leah Silver Graves

      Plus he’s donating used dirty clothes and not washing them before donating them. 🙁

  • Julien Pierre

    “In 2013 United States utilities generated 4,066 TWh of electricity and collected $370 billion in revenue. Of this, 70% came from fossil fuel sources like coal and natural gas. Nuclear has a strong showing of 20% and “renewables” are the other 10%, the majority of which is hydroelectric.“

    While this may be accurate data for 2013, we have more recent 2014 data.

    Fossil fuels are down to 67%.
    Nuclear is down to 19%.
    Hydropower is up to 6%. Other renewables are up to 7%.
    This means total renewables are 13%, on their way to overtaking nuclear.

    Source :

    • Rather than starting lots of comment threads, would it not be better to reply to one of your own comments with the extra information?

      • Julien Pierre

        That would entail the risk that someone wouldn’t open the top thread and see the rest of the comments 🙂

        • Instead of no one being able to see anything other than your comments?

  • Julien Pierre

    “The largest photovoltaic power plant in the world, Topaz Solar Farm cost $2.5 billion and while its “nameplate capacity” is 550MW, due to solar’s low capacity factor really generates a paltry average of 125MW. “

    All these numbers for this particular solar plant really don’t mean much without anything else to compare them to. What matters ultimately is cost of generation per MWh .

    I couldn’t find current utility costs, but I found projected costs at

    See table 2. For 2020, the Solar PV unsubsidized average cost of $125.3/MWh is projected to be competitive with “Advanced coal with CCS” of $144.4/Mwh, and also with “Natural gas with conventional combustion turbine” of $141.5/Mwh. When including subsidies, the solar PV cost drops to $114.3/Mwh about the same as “Natural gas advanced combustion turbine” at $113.5 .

    And one can make a good case that the costs for natural gas and coal are artificially low due to their nocious effects on public health that are not paid for. Ie. coal and natural gas are subsidized, too, just in a different way.

  • Julien Pierre

    “My home
    life runs comfortably on a single 100W solar panel, which cost $150 and
    was available on Amazon Prime. I tracked down a few manufacturers in
    China who all said it costs around $40 to make. The US for some reason
    leverages massive tariffs on Chinese solar panels, so they ship them
    through Malaysian customs. Why do the politicians even bother?”

    That’s some interesting definition of “comfortably”.
    As to “for some reason”, really, you didn’t even bother to inquire why that may be the case ?
    It’s not just the US, also.

  • Julien Pierre

    “For storage a $65 lead acid deep cycle battery does the trick. It’s 12V
    so can be charged directly from the solar panel, and holds 420Wh, way
    more than I use in a day. That’s $0.15 / Wh so I don’t see why everyone
    is so excited about Tesla charging $0.43 / Wh for the Powerwall, sans
    inverter and installation.”

    The price difference probably has to do with the fact that lead acid batteries last an average of 3-4 years, vs much longer for lithium ion. Tesla is warrantying their Powerwall for 10 years.

    • shea241

      Also, you absolutely cannot simply multiply volts * amp-hours on a lead-acid battery to get usable watt-hours. On his 420Wh battery it’s probably closer to 200Wh usable power.

  • Julien Pierre

    “Kitchens are expensive and dirty. This home manufacturing center has
    been by far the most liberating to eliminate. They are the greediest
    consumers of power, water, and labor and produce the most noise and
    garbage of any room. Moreover, they can be made totally unnecessary with
    a few practical life hacks.”

    Kitchens don’t seem to be totally unnecessary to you, since you still patronize restaurants. You just use somebody else’s kitchen, at a much greater cost per meal, and also with much higher energy use due to transportation.

  • Julien Pierre

    “First, I never cook. I am all for self reliance but repeating the same
    labor over and over for the sake of existence is the realm of robots.”

    News flash – you don’t have to cook the same thing over and over. Did you know you can cook different things ?

    utilize soylent only at home and go out to eat when craving company or
    flavor. This eliminates a panoply of expensive tools and rotting
    ingredients I would need to spend an unconscionable amount of time
    sourcing, preparing, and cleaning. ”

    Obviously that is your company’s sales pitch, but it is not a very good one, IMO. Sourcing different ingredients may be time consuming, but it’s fun, and likely much better for your health. So is preparation. Cleaning isn’t, but loading up the dishwasher only takes so long.I will grant you that rotting ingredients suck, but those issues will happen in the kitchens of restaurant you frequent as well.

    “It also gives me an incentive to
    explore the city’s fine restaurants and ask friends out to eat. In fact,
    I find soylent has made me more social when it comes to food. I can
    spend the money I saved from groceries and take out to buy a friend
    lunch or dinner. ”

    How much do you actually spend on restaurants for yourself and your friends ?

  • Julien Pierre

    “Next, I switched from beer to red wine. I buy with Saucey so I don’t have to use awful retail stores.”

    It may surprise you to learn that red wine also greatly benefits from refrigeration.
    And after opening, it will spoil very quickly unless refrigerated.

    Retail stores are great and refrigerate their wines. I doubt Saucey does in their delivery trucks. This is moot anyway, since they don’t deliver to my home address in the city of San Jose, like most other grocery delivery services.

  • Julien Pierre

    “Charging an 85kWh Tesla would still burn the equivalent of 10 gallons of oil at
    the power plant.

    [a] 85kWh = 306MJ

    Grid loss is 75% (67% lost on burning * 50% steam turbine loss * 5% transmission line loss * 80% “supercharger” efficiency)

    Then need 306MJ / 0.25 = 1201MJ of oil at the plant

    Petroleum is 32.4 MJ/L

    1201MJ / 32.4 MJ/L = 37L

    37L = 10 gallons”

    There is your funny math again. Using your own numbers, the petroleum power plant efficiency is 0.33 * 0.5 * 0.95 * 0.8 = 12.54%, not 25% . And 12.54% efficiency is clearly wrong.

    Here is a reliable source :

    This cites 10713 BTU per kWh for petroleum plants in 2013 .

    One gallon of gas is 115,200 BTU. So, the plant generates 10.75 kWh per gallon of gasoline.

    Assuming 5% grid loss and 20% charger loss, that’s down to 8.17 kWh per gallon of gas.

    The usable battery capacity in a Tesla S is less than 85 kWh, though, a little closer to 80 kWh. There is about 5 kWh capacity reserved to prevent cell damage.

    So, it would take 80/8.17 = 9.79 gallons of gas to fully charge a Tesla S.

    This is actually very close to your 10 gallon number, but you got there by way of a fairly major error – translating a 67% burning loss to a 0.67 multiplication factor.

    This is all moot in any case, since petroleum plants only make up 1% of the US electric power grid.

    EVs wouldn’t make a lot of sense if all electric power plants used gasoline as the fuel – they would just move the emissions somewhere else. While has some value when it comes to certain highly polluted regions, the main point of EVs is not just to move emissions, but to be able to use other non-polluting energy sources. I believe the majority of Tesla owners have solar PV systems at home to charge them. I have PV too for my 2012 Leaf (leased, just returned yesterday) and my new 2015 Volt.

  • tonybarnhill

    How do you take a hot shower? What about the other 1/2 of the year when the sun is low? Oh you haven’t figured that out yet?

    • shea241

      I’m wondering exactly the same thing! It’s easy to give up grid power when you neglect to mention the largest consumers of that power.

      Or you know, depending on natural gas lines …

    • Leah Silver Graves

      It’s an apartment building so the hot water heater might be a shared system.

  • Sara Hughes

    Your carbon footprint on your clothes alone is huge. Invest in something like this. (please)

  • amoration

    Some of this works very well but your elwire will die after a few thousand hours. Grow some food?

  • Sara Paige

    Soylent? Seriously? Is it made of people?

  • 48

    the only way i can feel good about my carbon footprint is if i’m ensuring child labor propogates

  • Jeremiah R.

    Self-righteous twaddle. Pass.

  • light299

    I suggest you burn your old clothes to make heat for boiling water.

  • jasdeepharibhajan

    Incredible article! You are the future human being we all need to live up to !

  • Ezzy

    You do know Tesla Superchargers are partially powered by renewables and aim to be 100% solar-powered at some point? In countries where renewables aren’t an issue (e.g. Norway), like they are in the US, they’re already renewable-powered. Your example on that sounded like big oil propaganda.

    • Ezzy

      Also, lead-acid batteries aren’t very good for solar power storage, even the deep-cycle ones. Recyclability is also terrible.

  • Jerry

    Interesting concept..However, the Prius uses an inverter, and pushes the AC to the AC electric motor.

  • Douglas Perrins

    As previously observed you are way over 100 Watts (2400 Watt hours) per day. You have accomplished this by offloading most of your energy load onto third parties. And the third parties you have off loaded onto often are less efficient that if you did it yourself.
    If you want to prove that you are using less energy you need to get rid of all of the fish hook words (nasty, horrible, unsightly, noisy, etc) and be objective about how your actions are using less energy. Please state the baseline that you are using to compare against (say the average suburbanite with an SUV). In all of the cases you present you do not objectively state how you are reducing your energy usage.
    The energy grid is outside your control. It is irrelevant to your discussion.
    You need to state how long the solar panels need to operate for before they offset the energy cost to manufacture them.
    Travel: Uber is hideously inefficient in the cost of gallons per mile per person (it is effectively a taxi service). Trains and Buses are much more efficient in that case. If you want true efficiency: Use a bicycle.
    Cooking: Commercial restaurants are huge energy hogs. The most efficient way to save energy on this subject is to cook at home in large batches, and freeze or refrigerate the rest of it. If you want to use Soylent – prove it consumes less energy than batch cooked meals on a calories consumed vesrus BTUs spent to cook basis.
    Lighting: You have stated you don’t like the lighting temperature of the provided lights. You have not proven that you reduced the lighting power density of your alternate lighting method.
    Climate Control: Outside of a narrow temperate band, heating and air conditioning is required in large portions of the country (and world). Without discussing how you plan on addressing this your argument falls down.
    Computing: You don’t discuss how the computer you have consumes less energy than the average household. You math falls down on computer energy usage versus power generation – 72Wh of consumption over 6 hours is a consumption rate of 12w (1 amp @ 12 volts). The NUC is rated for a consumption of 33 watts at heavy load (not counting the screen). The screens are rated at 75 watts each. So running the whole rig costs you 183 watts. If your solar panel is running at the same time you have an energy debt of 83 watts. Modern car batteries have a capacity of 250 amp hours (~4,000 kWh) which is significantly higher than your 400 kWh battery. I expect your battery is larger than your math showed and you are running a significant energy debt and you will pull your battery flat one of these days.
    Entertainment: You discuss that you don’t like television. You don’t discuss how much energy usage is reduced.
    Clothing: You have done nothing here to reduce energy consumption. You admit that you are costing more energy by buying extra clothing and having it shipped in from overseas. If you wanted to reduce energy usage you could find a tailor closer to you. You complain that someone else should solve the problem of clothing being manually sewn without investigating it in any depth.
    TLDR; Your posting flails around a lot without actually showing how energy usage is reduce. Please use

  • Soon you will be locked in your movie theater terrified of smoke nude unshaven lining up empty milk bottles filled with your urine never cutting your nails eating exxactly this many peas and the same steak and cheesecake and never cutting your nails and repeating yourself!!

  • lilolme

    Quite a lot of people are super critical of Rhinehart. I wouldn’t do this but let him try it and see what works. If he can achieve a minimalist lifestyle (+/- some inefficiencies) it might be useful lessons for space travel or a highly congested environment in some developing countries. This is obviously an ad for his product and I doubt that he will live like this forever. However, he might experiment here and there and find a good middle ground. Anyway its his choice and he is getting rid of some distractions. He is not killing anyone. He might come up with some clever solutions that could benefit a lot of people, if he can bottle his lifestyle into product/service. If his intention was just to convince people buy Soylent he might be disappointed.

    • walknseason


    • Nobody’s stopping him, just calling him out on his snooty pretentious bullshit, numerous factual errors, and all-around short-sightedness.

      • lilolme

        Yea I agree. Its a bit out there. He should probably rewrite it in a less opinionated view. I would have written it so that readers could offer input and suggestions instead of alienating them. He can still do this (hint: Rob if you are reading this ..).

  • OMla

    You realise that the clothes you give away are washed before being given to other people, meaning it would be more ecological for you to wash them at home and reuse? instead of manufacturing another one?

    And by the way the data you cite about power plants are totally wrong, not even in the ’60s were the power plants so inefficient as you state.

  • Dylan Hay-Chapman

    So some are asking, “What happens if someone wants to marry him?” He can link her to this post and will then reconsider. Planting THIS little seed of misanthropy is a masterstroke of efficiency.

  • Harry

    Rob, you need to not just look at consumption while using, but at the whole lifecycle of each major product mentioned above. For example, you have missed out on how much energy was used to make your NUC computer and transport it to you. You can label that amount as ’embedded energy’ for lack of a better term.The price doesnt incorporate all the so-called externalities that are now a concern for society. And remember, you cant get back the energy from moving to a product that uses less of it, unlike money. The laws of thermodynamics do not allow for that. That’s where re-use comes into play.
    Also, I see you have a good technical mind, however, it is firmly rooted in techno-utopian equilibrium fantasy that you must get it out of. You seem to be looking at all of this from an efficiency,convenience,money,solutionist point of view. From these, you make generalisations and end up offending others who do not look at these issues from your values. It ends up narrowing your vision rather than broadening it. Evgeny Morozov talks often about how many people in the tech industry have this horribly narrow vision of many issues and end up not really achieving anything substantial or significant.
    If you intend to solve the world hunger problem, broadening your vision will definitely help. For example, you could look at various food policies of the US(or other countries) that prevent it from feeding everyone well, sustainably and cost effectively.

  • Satanic_Panic

    You’re an idiot. In what universe is eating processed garbage (aka soylent) and eating in restaurants cheaper than preparing your own food?

    In what universe do you live in that your processed garbage drink doesn’t require energy to create and transport?

    • Chris

      Takes less energy than the food you eat is the point. Guess you missed that.

  • andyman

    It is unfortunate that soy-based protien was found to have too many long-term side effects due to the hormone imbalance it creates (estrogen). I also think that consuming liquid as a main diet in a culinary rich city, within a state that produces a vast amount of the produce we eat all over the country, is rather odd. Eating fresh salads every day from locally grown produce from farmer’s markets would be a GREAT improvement on your system. I also think it is sad that you do not derive any pleasure from food or from culinary creations, aside from your soylent stuff, which seems designed for more efficiency than taste/pleasure.

    I do agree with your principles regarding energy consumption in general, and I also agree that localized DC is going to be the future of power generation and consumption. This revolution, however, will only be brought by the power of the individual to think for themselves and not rely on government subsidies to make things easier. We must push the private sector to act and provide products and services that promote this new way of consuming/generating power that better suits our growing populations and rural sprawl.

  • J. Atto

    Solar Panels are awesome. I purchased a solar system in 2012 (it is connected to the grid) and I haven’t had a power bill since. I live in Michigan (not known for having abundant sunlight, but we have about the same climate as Germany, which is filled with solar panels), and they work just as fine in the shade.

  • Jim Head

    How do you shower or bath? Seems a key daily routine that might required a fair bit of energy.

    • Trent

      Nanobots, I think?

  • Johnny oneye

    “S oylent Green”
    The movie , lmao
    You can’t run a fan off that battery .

  • disqus_e1nsJNoIXZ

    this is the biggest troll evar, right? right?

  • There is SO much criticism going on in these comments and yet I see very few attempts to take a middle of the road approach. As a challenge to anyone out there, is there anyone willing to write the *right* version of this piece? What if you do want to get more “off the grid”? What are some direct current appliances you *can* get? If Soylent isn’t the only approach, what other raw options are available so that you can get the nutritions you need and not have a refrigerator? What about a mini-fridge that you only plug in on weekends? What about gas stoves? For that matter, what about gas refrigerators? I like that this essay makes an attempt to describe how you might take many facets of your life off the grid; I would just like to hear some more informed thoughts on the scope of the project and a version of it that takes externalities into account.

    • Chris

      Wow – some critical thought, as opposed to knee-jerk criticism. Too bad the drive here is to just slam Rob without any constructive thought (hence your 2 likes in months since this was written).

  • Amazeballs

    RE: Coffee: “But it’s better than a Keurig” is not an effective argument. Keurig brewers are the poster appliances for waste. Burning coal is more efficient and acceptable than burning orphans, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

  • alf

    Buy new synthetic clothing instead of washing them? From China? And talking about sustainability. FUCK!

  • alf

    you can wash you clother in 5 minutes in a bucket of water you use to flush the toilet. This bullshit makes me angry. Cargo ships only in the christmas season between Europe and China use more petrol than all the cars in europe during the whole year.

  • Christopher Squire

    Don’t touch it:

    ‘Soylent Green Is People!!!’

    Don’t let the young geeks of Silicon Valley tell you any different.

  • How are you calculating grid loss?

    Given your claimed losses:
    (67% lost on burning, 50% steam turbine loss, 5% transmission line loss, 80% “supercharger” efficiency)

    I would expect the total loss to be the product of percentages propagated:

    (1 – (0.33 * 0.5 * 0.95 * 0.2)) * 100 = 97% lost, rather than 75%.

  • A. Savetti

    Thinking of reading the comments? No need! I’ll sum them up for you.

    “Fuck you for using less energy. Anyone who tries to use less energy deserves to be shot. I hate you. I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU SO MUCH ARGHGGH!”

    • Chris

      Yeah – the comments here are ridiculous. A lot of threatened people getting together into ‘mob-mode’.

  • greenthinker2012

    No fridge, no dishes, no microwave, no oven, no range, no dishwasher, no utensils, no pests, no cleaning products nor dirty rags, my life is considerably boring.

    I never entertain guests, I completely disregard the energy required to sustain me in a technological society. The energy required to smelt the metals I use, the energy required to melt the glass I use, the energy required to purify and pump my water, the energy required to pump and process my sewage and the energy embodied in the countless other products and services I rely on are simply ignored.
    In short I am a sanctimonious idiot.
    Thank you.

    • Chris

      He’s not saying his way of being more efficient is complete. He has taken control of the systems he does have control over and has made them (A) all more efficient for himself, and (B) mostly more efficient regarding resource usage. I’m not hearing sanctimony in any of this – just a satisfaction that some of his goals had been realized. Chrissakes – this guy is switched his house to DC power and is running off solar. He had the gall to put in the effort AND share his personal experiment (nobody is saying YOU have to do this yourself at home) with the internet masses, including its countless trolls. You and the other commentors here look less interested in an honest evaluation of the difference this guy has made to his resource streams, and more about bashing him for being different. This is at the very least is a science project that symbolically highlights ineffeciencies of the systems taken for granted around us, and how relatively easy it could be for individuals and society to shift itself to something different. He’s not saying that everyone should do this – he personally doesn’t think TV was useful to him – but he still plays PC games – maybe others would not play games, but watch a DC-powered TV. A lot of the hating clearly is coming from people who feel like just talking about this threatens their way of life…

      • greenthinker2012

        Personally, I am hearing sanctimony in the way he disparages what other people do, like shopping for food or making a coffee.
        The whole article seems like the author is being somehow superior in his choices.
        My comment is pointing out that the author is taking for granted the embedded energy in the majority of products and services that are so ubiquitous they are invisible to him.
        We most certainly cannot run our society off of solar power alone, yet somehow the article makes it seem like we could if we just tried harder.

        • Trent

          It’s funny how a lot of people are reading sanctimony and superiority in that post, whereas I didn’t get that at all. I don’t think he is necessarily saying other people’s lifestyles are bad, he is just explaining the preferences, e.g. a hatred of grocery stores, behind his idiosyncratic lifestyle.

  • Jess Ivy

    If you have an apartment half of this stuff would come back to bite you in the ass if you decide to move.

  • Brendon Marotta

    Where in China do you get your clothing custom made?

    – Sincerely, tall reader who can’t find shirts that fit.

  • I will add this to my blog as well. Thank you for the information.

  • we will add this to my blog as well. Thank you for the information.

  • Sampo Vuori

    If you want to retain some illusion of the bright future of the mankind don’t read the comments section.

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  • AnnQualls

    I was thinking the same things.
    When camping we use a simple water agitator to wash clothes, and we can
    bake bread in the noon day sun and a solar oven. But it does take time,
    but if that is how you choose to spend it (as we do while camping) then
    its great.

  • WithheldName

    Ditching your electric bill is almost too easy living in a place like Los Angeles. No need for AC or heating. Plenty of sunlight for your solar panels. 95% of residences in America need to guzzle energy just to be livable. For example, I spend $3,000/year on home energy in Houston. It would take me between $50,000 and $100,000 in solar panels to power my house. And I live in a sunny location.

    Getting rid of your kitchen is easy for a well-to-do bachelor who can afford to eat in restaurants every night.

    Getting rid of your car is easy if you have the dough to pay for Uber chauffeurs every day.

    I suspect he goes to laundromats, though. I can’t imagine wearing the same pair of jeans 10 days in a row, then donating them dirty, and then buying a new pair.

    Are restaurants more ecologically sustainable than home cooking? I doubt it.

    Are taxi services more ecologically sustainable than buses or bicycles? I doubt it.

    By the way, I bet he gets no more than 50% of his calories from Soylent. I suspect he gets a lot of bagels and burritos on the go. I seriously doubt that a 100% Soylent diet would be good for anyone.

  • Cyclone Dusk

    Had to stop reading at the solar power assumption in space. That’s wrong. Very wrong. Do you realize that unless your moon base is on one of the poles, you’ll be in pitch darkness for 28 days at a time? Your batteries will have a very hard time lasting a month, and relying on them for weeks on end over and over again will shorten their lifespan drastically. Before too long, you’d lose all power to your settlement and suffocate/freeze/starve.

    And OFF Luna, AWAY from earth, there is of course the **sharp** dropoff of photon density from sunlight. This dropoff increases *quadratically* with distance, Rob… SOLAR IS JUST NOT EFFECTIVE FOR SPACE EXPLORATION!

    Do you know what’s keeping the Voyager probes alive? Do you know what the Curiosity rover runs on? Do you know what powered the Apollo landers?

    Radioisotopic Thermal Generators, or RTGs. That’s right… Nuclear.

    I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to face it, we’re going to need nuclear in space – but there’s GREAT NEWS! The lunar regolith is chock FULL of Thorium! With a molten salt reactor attached to your habitat, electricity will handily be no longer a problem. And you’d be getting more radiation from space itself than you’d ever get from a reactor.

    “But what if it explodes!?” What if YOU explode. “But spontaneous human combustion has never even been confirmed, and reactors HAVE exploded before!” Those are all water-cooled reactors that require extremely high internal operating pressures in order to keep their coolant water liquid. Those would be a stupid idea in space, but thankfully we’re not talking about those. We’re talking about MOLTEN SALT reactors. We already use molten salt as a thermal medium in concentrated solar plants. Molten Salt reactors have less likelihood to explode than *you* do.

    Nuclear isn’t just preferable to coal. It’s our *only chance*.

  • JoeSponge

    Late to the party, but I still want to play.
    The nice thing about doing snapshot math is, it doesn’t have to be right, it doesn’t have to be logical, it doesn’t have to be practical… it just has to have numbers and claims.
    After that, it breaks down and people start getting huffy and nit-picky.

    Like questioning “where the hell did you get $165/yr for a Keurig!?”
    Funny, you can find ANYthing on the internet. Including detailed analysis on annual Keurig power requirements, in a coffee forum. I suspect our hero searched, grabbed #’s from the first post showing nice, big, juicy #’s, and didn’t bother to think / vet / adjust to context.

    $165/ yr? Accord to the same post *I* read, that’s “if you leave it on, all year” — as opposed to “Setting it to “AUTO OFF” after an hour” — user extrapolation (from measured use) to yearly costs were $20/yr to $36/yr.
    One person also pointed out that if you MANUALLY turned it ON and OFF after use (see the coincidence here), it would cost significantly less. Like, maybe $11.77

    Of course, this begs the questions: Was he being deliberately obtuse? What he practicing bad math (a misdemeanor in many states)? Did he just not know what he was talking about? Did he have a drum to beat, and grasp for examples, and find a bad one? (My vote) Or, Does he leave the water running in the shower as long as he’s in the house, does he leave the lights/tv/toys on when he’s not there, leave the gas (stove) running when he’s not using it? I doubt that.

    His math was suspect, proven wrong based on context, and found guilty. Sentenced to years Hard Comments (instead of Public Service). Sentence reduced to time served.

    —- Now, was he saying that it’s cheaper to make his synthetic shirts than it is to WASH them? Aw jeeze, that’s stupid. Just. Plain. Stupid.
    And, let’s not touch on his irrational fear (distaste?) of kitchens (torture chambers) and his indignance that an architect would PRESUME that he would want a kitchen in his rented apartment.
    The apartment what was built to accommodate general requirements and desires and specifications ( “Nope, says right here… must have plumbing, sewer, electric service, kitchen, toilet, … What kind of idiot would want to live in a BOX without any creature comforts?” “I dunno Sam… I say we build it to the plans, and screw any creep what want to cook over a counter-top fire when we’ve put in a 4-burner electric range, oven, microwave, and separate service for refrigerator. He’d have to be some kind of freak… Hey, maybe he’d hire the architect to BUILD his DREAM HOME!” “Yeah, only to find out that the architect would still have to design it to SPEC.” “But it wouldn’t HAVE to USE any of that stuff… he could poop in a box, and then send it to China through Amazon, for all we care.” ) Ah, those builders… what cards they are.

    Sorry, rather than looking “quirky”, he’s looking “odd” — If he gets rich enough, he’ll be “eccentric”, and if he buys RKO, moves to Vegas, and lives alone (likely) in his empty room, watching the same movie over and over on his digital toys, then he’ll have reach the apex: “Howard-Hughes-ian”.

  • Leif Burrow

    I don’t think the world’s population would fit very well confined to the latitude belt where just keeping the windows open is a viable year round home heating and A/C solution. Also, in a hypothetical future where we are off fossil fuels and use solely renewable energy connecting the world’s power grids is how you get energy from the places where the sun happens to be shining or the wind happens to be blowing right now to the places where it is not.

    Finally, using AC as opposed to DC makes it much more efficient to step up the voltage before running it across long wires. Even though the conversion and back incurs a loss this is much less than the loss that would be had with DC. In fact, even in a modest 2-story solar powered house there can be an advantage to converting the DC off from your solar panel into AC before sending it to your various rooms. (actually from your battery since you want electricty 24 hours a day)

    So, yes, your sollution is pretty good for a guy living in an LA apartment. It leaves much to be desired as a sollution to the world’s energy problems.

  • Nathan S.

    I didn’t feel like reading all 384 comments, so I apologize if this is a repeat post.

    Is the Power Source photo a combination of two separate photos, or did you have the exact same set of books/electronics arraigned in a similar, but different fashion on the other side of the widow?

    I can’t figure out what’s going on and it’s driving me nuts.

  • Anonymous

    How do you carry the heavy soylent upstairs without an alternating current elevator

  • Zoe Helen Weinberg
    this says that synthetic fabric is really bad for the fishes and environment and ultimately up the food chain. I do NOT advocate wool because it’s cruel, deathly, and Not sustainable. but hemp, maybe, i dont think ive ever tried hemp clothing. not flax clothing either. polyester is so comfortable though, even if it is flamable…

  • garyengel

    Bet this guy is a party animal!

  • Michael

    Is the implication that he’s buying new clothes instead of washing what he’s got? That seems very wasteful. What happens to the old clothes after he’s worn them?

  • OK, I’ll bite. Where do you get the clothes?

  • Casey Scalf

    There is an interesting contrast between the article and the comments?

    Critical analysis is good, so is the discussion here, but why do people attack him so instantly?

    A lot of these ideas are a great step forward. Perhaps they are not fully formulated. Perhaps you don’t agree with them 100%. But I think they are worth considering.

    Props to Robin for speaking his mind and actually making some real stuff happen.

    He’s not just talking it. He’s walking it. I don’t think all of us can say that as truthfully as we would like.