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Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

You have probably heard that your choices of foods and beverages can also have an impact on the environment. But just how much of an impact can you have every day?

In December of last year, BBC.com posted a very cool (and easy to use) food calculator using data from University of Oxford researcher Joseph Poore, and Thomas Nemecek of the Agroecology and Environment Research Division in Zurich, Switzerland.

This calculator allows you to select how often you consume your choice of 34 common foods and drinks, and it tells you how many kilograms (it’s BBC, so you need to convert from the metric system) that food contributes to your annual greenhouse gas emissions. It then shows how much you’d need to drive a regular car or heat an average (UK) home to reach that same greenhouse gas emission, and it tells you other interesting facts like how much water was used to bring you your food.

For instance, I eat about three to five apples a week. At one apple per serving, my fondness of apples contributes 7 kilograms to my annual greenhouse emissions. That’s not so bad. That’s like driving a car 18 miles or heating a home for about a day. It does use a lot of water, though – almost 3,000 liters (790 gallons).

On the other hand, I’m addicted to coffee. I drink at least two cups of coffee a day, which contributes 311 kg of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s like driving a car 795 miles or heating a house for 49 days.

Beef is a big one, though. If you eat a serving of beef about the size of a hamburger three to five times a week, that would be an annual greenhouse gas emission of 1,611 kilograms – equivalent to driving a car 4,112 miles (Atlanta to Alaska is about 4,260 miles) or heating a home for 255 days. That consumption of beef also would use up 4,625 square meters (1.14 acres) of land – and you’re just one person. Think about how many millions of other people eat at least three burgers a week.

Studies have shown that food is responsible for 26 percent of the global greenhouse gas emission – 58 percent of that food comes from animal products, and 50 percent of those animal products are beef or lamb. By cutting back on beef, finding your protein in beans or nuts, you can drastically reduce your annual greenhouse gas emission and reduce your carbon footprint.

Plus, you need to keep up with your New Year’s Resolutions anyway, check out this calculator to give you some inspiration to make some healthier and more sustainable options!

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