Next step in changing how we consume food: Carbon Labeling
As the effects of global warming advance for the worse many people are considering alternative ways of consuming food. It is rather confusing and abstract to think about the carbon footprint of what we eat. Usually it is arbitrary and easy to ignore the impact because, simply we do not see the direct impact. Rather, it is the cumulative impact that we can observe but the personal contribution does not seem that much of a big deal, right? Often, personal impact is underestimated. After all, global warming is a collective action problem. But what if there was a way to show the impact on more concrete terms? Carbon labeling is a simple enough of a solution while offering an innovative approach to how we can shop. Carbon Fund describes carbon footprint as:
“A life cycle product carbon footprint measures the total greenhouse gas emissions generated by a product, from extraction of raw-materials, to end-of-life. It is measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e). Product footprints should be associated with a scope or boundary, the most common being:
Cradle-to-gate: mostly used for business-to-business (B2B) products. This measures the total greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction of raw materials through to product manufacture up to the factory gate.
Cradle-to-grave: mostly used for business-to-consumer (B2C) products. This measures the total greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction of raw materials through to the product’s manufacture, distribution, use and eventual disposal.”
If the defined footprint is clearly demonstrated by labeling there is room for significant improvement. 1/3 of the greenhouse gas emissions are due to food consumption. Therefore, being more mindful about what we consume, even few times a week could make results in drastic carbon footprint reduction. In this process, being mindful requires access to easily comprehensible and accessible data, likely on the packaging of the foods. Some experts state that people are terrible at calculating the impact of the food that they consume, so there is a need to standardize and educate the people on how to interpret and read data relating to carbon labeling. Many countries, including Denmark, Sweden, The UK, are considering implementing carbon labeling initiatives, a Carbon Trust Fund survey shows that a large portion of the society would be interested in having access to such data on the food packages.
Categorizing types of food would have important implications. People who are already interested in lowering their impact would have a credible option to follow through with their actions. On the other hand, people who are not interested or people who are unaware would probably have chance to alter the way that they perceive things. Maybe, facing the direct and concrete result of the food consumption would help for reconsideration.
Overall, carbon labeling is bound to have a role in our everyday lives in the near future, preferably sooner than later. Quickly popularizing this application could mean the difference between saving the planet or not. Surely, the implications offer significant potential and more countries should look into actually developing a carbon labeling system, especially into the food industry.