The Carbon Footprint of a Burger


Photo credit: chichacha via Flickr/Creative Commons

Jamais Cascio, former managing editor over at Worldchanging and current proprietor of Open the Future, recently got to wondering: with all the recent hubbub surrounding carbon footprints, credits and offsets, what do everyday, common items contribute to our warming globe? He started with an American institution: the cheeseburger, and, after a little digging and number-crunching he came up with 6.3 to 6.8 pounds (2.85 to 3.1 kg) of carbon emissions per burger. This includes a myriad of factors, from growing the feed for the cattle for the beef and cheese, growing the produce, storing and transporting the components, as well as cooking them all, and he appears to have done a fairly thorough job. So, why choose burgers? The average American eats three burgers per week, or about 150 burgers per year; that's a lot of beef, cheese, shipping and grilling, and it really adds up. According to Jamais' calculations, America's love of burgers contributes approximately 941 to 1023 pounds (that's 428-465 kg) of greenhouse gas per person, per year -- the rough equivalent of the annual carbon output from 7,500-15,000 SUVs if the 300 million US citizens hit the 3 burgers/week average. Will Carbon McCredits soon be appearing on menus across the country (and the world)? Jamais' discerning look at this common food item suggests we may want to think about it. Read more at ::Open the Future

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