Paying for One's "Carbon Sins" May Cost Pennies


We are all becoming more eco-conscious, right? We might not exactly be following in the footsteps of No Impact Man or be as Green as a Thistle, but we're trying. Eating organic food is important to us, as is eating locally.

Thanks to a UK initiative, measuring one's carbon impact is destined to be less of an elusive question. The UK-based Carbon Trust is working to calculate the carbon footprint (CO2e) of common consumer items. And after a year and a half, some numbers are in: the carbon dioxide emissions created in making a bag of chips "Walkers crisps" from the cradle to the grave, is double the actual weight of the chips.

Is that a lot or a little?

That's the question Carbon Catablog asked last week. And with a quick calculation based on standard carbon offset prices in the UK, the results are pretty surprising.

If a 34.5g bag of Walkers chips (the cheese and onion flavor) costs the environment 75g in CO2e to produce, Carbon Catalog calculated that it would cost the UK consumer a grand total of 0.075 pence (that's about 1.5 cents U.S. ) to offset the carbon produced by the chips.

Here's how the carbon offset price was calculated.

Breaking it down:

A 34.5g bag of Walker’s chips produces 75g of CO2e.

Carbon Trust factored in the carbon impact of fertilizers used in the field to grow the potatoes (yes, they use real vegetables in chips!) all the way to disposal of the bag in landfill.

The 75 grams translate to 0.000 075 tons of CO2e. If in the UK the average cost to offset a ton of CO2e is £10, then the grand total cost to offset your chips equals ... are you ready? A whole 0.075 pence.

Seems negligible. While the carbon footprint of something complicated like a pizza will be more difficult to assess and possibly more expensive to offset, the Carbon Trust eventually plans to get there one product at a time. Maybe (hopefully) one day, a carbon label will be as ubiquitous as 'made from recycled materials' or bio-organic labels.

::The Guardian via ::Carbon Catablog

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