Whether it’s turning off the lights when not in use, or choosing to walk instead of driving, many of us are trying to take action to reduce our carbon footprint.
Now scientists have discovered simple supermarket swaps you can do to cut your carbon calories.
Their findings suggest that people who want to become more sustainable should replace feta with mozzarella and make their own burgers rather than buying pre-made ones.
Scientists have uncovered simple supermarket swaps you can do to cut your carbon calories.
According to CarbonCloud, feta (left) requires an enormous amount of water to produce and emits 34 kg CO2/kg during production. Instead, they suggest that buyers consider switching to mozzarella (right), which produces 9 kg CO2/kg.
|Milk chocolate (5.9 kg CO2/kg)||Styrofoam candy (1.6 kg CO2/kg)|
|Feta (34 kg CO2/kg)||Mozzarella (9.0 kg CO2/kg)|
|Grapes (1.1 kg CO2/kg)||Strawberries (0.19 kg CO2/kg)|
|Whole milk (1.9 kg CO2/kg)||Skimmed milk (1.2 kg CO2/kg)|
|Goat cheese (46 kg CO2/kg)||Halloumi (30 kg CO2/kg)|
|Latte (2.4 kg CO2/kg)||TENZING (0.33 kg CO2/kg)|
|Gin (4.3 kg CO2/kg)||Red wine (1.5 kg CO2/kg)|
|Yogurt in a glass jar (4.1 kg CO2/kg)||Yogurt in a paper pot (3.1 kg CO2/kg)|
|UK tomatoes (3.8 kg CO2/kg)||Tomatoes from Spain (1.8 kg CO2/kg)|
|Dry pasta (1.1 kg CO2/kg)||Potatoes (0.26 kg CO2/kg)|
|Frozen broccoli (0.93 kg CO2/kg)||Fresh broccoli (0.6 kg CO2/kg)|
|Beef burger (22 kg CO2/kg)||Ground beef (16 kg CO2/kg)|
|Sea bass from Europe (14 kg CO2/kg)||UK cod (8.1 kg CO2/kg)|
|Pre-sliced ham (5.9 kg CO2/kg)||Gourmet ham (5.1 kg CO2/kg)|
|Chips (2.9 kg CO2/kg)||Peanuts (1.6 kg CO2/kg)|
In the study, natural energy drink commissioner TENZING commissioned researchers from food data company CarbonCloud to investigate the carbon footprint of the average shopping cart.
The team studied the production of 30 popular food products all the way from the farm to the supermarket shelf.
Factors taken into account included nitrous oxide levels in fields, emissions from fertilizers, emissions from deforestation, energy use in factories, and crop yields.
Based on their analysis, the team was able to estimate the number of kilograms of CO2 produced per kilogram of finished product.
Their results show that the production of feta cheese and goat cheese requires huge amounts of water, which release 34 kg CO2/kg and 46 kg CO2/kg respectively.
Instead, experts suggest that buyers consider switching to mozzarella (9 kg CO2/kg) or halloumi (30 kg CO2/kg).
Looking at popular meats, ground beef has been found to produce 25 percent less CO2 than ready-made hamburgers, and deli ham is a more sustainable option than pre-sliced ham.
In terms of alcohol, gin emits 2.8 kg CO2/kg more than red wine.
Other simple options include switching from milk chocolate to foamy sweets, switching from frozen broccoli to fresh broccoli, and choosing yogurt from a paper pot rather than a glass one.
And while it may seem counterintuitive, the researchers say shoppers should choose tomatoes from Spain, not the UK.
Dr Eric Edlund, Vice President of Science at CarbonCloud, explained: “The UK-grown tomato, which has been less travelled, but grown in a greenhouse, has a greater climate impact than a Spanish tomato not grown in a greenhouse.
“This is just one example of how food we think is more artificial and processed doesn’t always have a bigger footprint.”
In terms of alcohol, the study found that gin emits 2.8 kg CO2/kg more than red wine.
Looking at popular meats, ground beef (left) has been found to produce 25 percent less CO2 than cooked hamburgers (right).
While you may be worried that these exchanges will increase the price of your weekly store, CarbonCloud says this is not the case.
Average costs for ‘high carbon’ and ‘low carbon’ baskets were compared using www.trolley.co.uk which confirmed they were the same price.
“The swap basket proves that reducing the carbon footprint of the British weekly shop does not mean spending more money,” CarbonCloud added.
The report comes shortly after University of Bristol researchers urged restaurants to add carbon labels to their menus to encourage diners to choose greener options.
In their study, the team asked survey participants whether they would order a beef, chicken, or vegetarian filling
Each burrito was accompanied by a traffic light-style sustainability rating, of which the vegetarian option was marked in green as the most sustainable.
They found that five percent more participants went vegan when ecolabels were enabled, and 15 percent more chose vegan or chicken, the second-most eco-friendly option.
The authors write: “Environmental labeling was particularly effective among those who were motivated to be sustainable.”
WHAT IS THE CARBON FOOTPRINT OF SANDWICHES?
Scientists say that the total annual consumption of sandwiches in the UK has the same environmental impact as the use of about eight million cars a year.
The researchers arrived at this figure after studying the carbon footprint of various types of sandwiches, both homemade and packaged.
A team from the University of Manchester calculated the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq.) — the standard measure of carbon footprint — for snacks.
Their calculation was based on data from the British Sandwich Association (BSA), according to which 11.5 billion sandwiches are eaten annually in the UK.
This shows the total carbon footprint (grams of CO2 per sandwich) of 24 store-bought sandwiches.
Daily breakfast 1441.3 g
Ham and cheese 1349.5g
Shrimps and mayonnaise 1254.7g
Egg and bacon 1182.4g
Salad with ham 1119.1g
Cheese Paharya 1112.1g
Sausage and brown sauce 1087.2g
Double cheese and onion 1078.4g
Cheese and tomatoes 1067.3 g
Fried chicken with bacon 1030g
Bacon, lettuce and tomatoes 1007.4g
Ham and mustard 1000.5g
Fried chicken stuffed 991g
Ham and mayonnaise 978.2g
Cheese and mayonnaise 976.2g
Chicken salad 963g
Cheese and pickle 956.4 g
Ham and egg 947.8g
Tuna and cucumber 942.9g
Chicken and mayonnaise 887g
Free range egg and arugula 853.8 g
Tuna and sweet corn 851.6g
Chicken and sweet corn 769g
Egg mayonnaise and watercress 739.0g