Every product should have a Carbon Footprint Rating (CFR).
For example, I’ve planted a grove of Papaya’s and they are producing fruit now. I have not watered them because the Islands where I am living make rain and water them for me. The water comes from the earth’s Global Water Cycle.
So as my first assessment for the CFR of my Papaya, I’d give it a value of zero. My Papayas have a zero Carbon Footprint. The plant grows by inhaling Carbon Dioxide and with the use of sunlight, produces itself (the trunk, roots, leafs and flowers) and ultimately produces food that I or birds or any other animal could eat. I walk up to the tree and pick it by hand. This is the most direct way to get energy from the sun, via one level of indirection from sun to plant to me.
So this is the idea. All products and services should have a Carbon Footprint Rating. This would allow consumers to make informed, climate change awareness decisions for everything they invest in.
This is similar to food labels, fat content, sodium content, calories, etc. The consumer becomes fully aware of what they are buying and consuming. This allows them to make more intelligent choices for their health and the health of their families.
I’ve not fully worked out the specifics of the CFR system, but suggest a rating system of 0 to 100. Zero being the lowest and most environmental rating, and 100 being the maximum and most detrimental rating to the environment.
Retailers, Restaurants, Grocery Stores, Service providers could establish a Retailer Rating that would be the cumulative sum of all products sold, the cost to provide services, etc. Where do they get their power to run the store? Where are products shipped from? Metrics like that. The algorithm could be complex, but once in place, would be a reliable indicator for consumers.
So for today, I feel I could safely say my Papaya has a CFR of 0. I also had a boiled egg from a neighbor who raises chickens. I’m guessing they get water from the water company, so there is a CFR cost for that component. There is also the issue of the feed used to nourish the chickens. Where did it come from? Was it shipped to the island? What is the CFR on that bag of feed? Did it come in a plastic bag or compostable paper sack?
Those types of subtle carbon footprint costs need to be understood. If I had the CFR for the bag of feed and the CFR for the water supply company, I could average them and come up with a CFR for my egg. I also boiled the egg with a propane stove. The propane comes from off island and has a CFR as well, not to mention the appliances themselves. Peeling the onion reveals underlying climate change problems with access to my food.
Perhaps I take a swag for the moment and just say, my egg, although produced here on the island by a local, hopefully happy hen, has a cumulative CFR of 35. This value considers the feed bag, water supply, propane and stove. I also boiled the egg in water and it was not rain water, but also came from the local supplier.
As you can see, the algorithm could be complex, but once each retailer and service provider, make their own assessment, we will start to see the story and ultimately be able to make more informed decisions with the use of the simple number.
We could even use a color system to depict this information. For example, green being the best for the environment with red being the worst.
Just an idea … to help us be more aware of how each of us affect climate change.
Now if I only just had that one Papaya for breakfast I’d be as conscious about my environment as my favorite two legged wings friends, who unfortunately are now looking for the aforementioned Papaya.