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Ups I didn’t know that: Carbon Footprint - Yüksel Yasemin Altıntaş

What does carbon footprint mean? With every action, we actually leave our mark upon the environment, just like the one you leave with your shoes. From your transportation to cosmetics, the food you consume to utensils you purchase all of your actions affects the global level of carbon dioxide production.

From time to time, people can over-consume some foods and beverages. No matter the reason, everyone has been on a diet at least once in their life. Beauty is a social constrain, but carbon footprint is a fact. Food production creates almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and our dieting plays a significant role in that. Scholars at Oxford University indicated that different types of foods affect our environment differently. Researches show that meat and other animal-based products crate more than half of the food-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Approximately one cow emits 65 gallons of methane gas per day while it digests its food. Methane gas emission is 25 times harmful than carbon dioxide emission. More scientifically, the emissions of 1 million metric tonnes of methane and nitrous oxide are equivalent to emissions of 25 and 298 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide. When it comes to sheer waste production, 2.500 dairy cows’ waste production is equivalent to a waste of over 400.000 people. In a way, in a day, your ‘dinner’ may produce more carbon footprint then you. It’s a fact that by avoiding meat and dairy products, one can reduce its environmental impact. By changing our diet, we can save more water, contribute to reducing pollution and loss of forests.

Let’s assume that you completely transformed your diet and minimized all the high carbon footprint products like meat, would it be enough? Unfortunately no. To begin with, I am not a doctor or nutritionist with all the respect to your dietary preferences; your body needs different ingredients, and some of these ingredients cannot be replaced with their ‘variations.’ Unfortunately, decreasing our meat and dairy consumption is not enough. If you are a vegan or vegetarian but consume coffee or chocolate, your carbon footprint will be high too. Secondly, even if you lie your diet heavy on fruits and vegetables, their production origins can increase their carbon footprint. This means the transportation process of the items matters as much as their production phase.

By consuming locally produced items instead of foreign productions, you can significantly lower your carbon footprint. If you don’t want to give up on any of these high greenhouse emission causing foods, we have good news for you. You don’t have to give up on your favorite products. By limiting your consumption or choosing climate-friendly produced foods like tomatoes grown outdoors or within high-tech greenhouses instead of the ones heated by non-renewable resources like oil and coal, you can reduce your carbon footprint. Currently, the food industry heavily depends on fossil fuels. The population of the earth is increasing. Ladha-Sabur et. all argues that food demand is expected to increase by up to 60% percent by 2050. To balance the supply and demand without harming the environment: production, packaging, and transportation phases of the products must be re-organized.

How can we measure our carbon footprint or track the production, transportation phases of the gods that we consume? Unfortunately, it’s not an easy thing to do, especially if you are living in Turkey. However, by switching to locally produced grocery items, purchasing your foods in glass jars instead of tenet cans, and by using reusable food preserving containers instead of covering them with the plastic stretch wrap, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Switching from plastic water bottles to glass ones will be healthier and reduce your waste too. Also, instead of buying small portions of packed grocery items like cheese or ham, you can prefer to purchase bigger portions. You can separate and store them in smaller pieces in your fridge by using reusable containers. Basically, even by switching your product’s packaging, you can contribute to the war against global warming.

Especially these days, with the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic, people get anxious. Naturally, with survival instincts, they started to buy and store lots of processed foods in plastic containers. Since we are enjoying staying and working from our homes, we can try new recipes like making our pasta at home instead of buying it in pre-packed containers or ordering out. Next time when you go out shopping, please consume local, prefer glass over plastic when it comes to canned foods, and tries to avoid purchasing less non-recyclable plastic as much as possible.


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