We hear a lot in the news about Carbon Footprint. This is the impact, expressed as an amount of carbon, that an item produces during its manufacture and distribution. Do you know what the carbon impact of typical consumer items really are and the major components?
Read on to find out ...
" ... pop quiz, based on a recent Wall Street Journal article ... of various household goods. ... guess their single biggest contribution to global warming. Consider all aspects of the product: raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, and end use...."
Here are two of the six:
" ... Timberland hiking boots. Manufactured in China and sold in the U.S. ...the chief culprit isn't shipping. It's leather. Cows are a huge source of methane emissions."
" ... Milk. ...once again, cows. ... cows are responsible for about 28% of milk's carbon footprint. If you add in their feed, that figure goes up to 51%, ..."
" ... Calculating carbon emissions is complicated business, ...environmental impacts are spread widely throughout our integrated economy, often hiding in unexpected places...."
Otherwise, a few points do jump out from the analysis.
The first is that transportation costs just aren't the biggest impact for most products. Patagonia could manufacture their jackets in the basement of their stores, and they would barely make a dent in their footprint. In aggregate, of course, transportation makes up a huge percentage of the world's carbon budget, so its importance can't be discounted. But buying local still doesn't seem like the best lever for consumers looking to green their lifestyles.
The second is that products that consume energy in their end use tend to be wildly more environmentally harmful after they get into consumers hands than during manufacturing. In other words, if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, consider driving less.
The third is that cows remain a really big problem without an obvious solution. Methane digester projects like the ones that TerraPass funds help to decrease the impacts of agriculture, but as individuals the best lever we have is to reduce our consumption.
Via: Terrapass Link