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Here’s a fantastic idea for which it’s worth interrupting a delightful weekend of shoveling snow (please make it stop…): a new product labeling initiative in Britain that seeks to declare each consumer product’s carbon footprint, that is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by the production of the amount of product in the labeled container.
The Carbon Trust Label is now starting to appear on a few test products in British stores, including bags of potato chips, a shampoo, and a brand of Smoothie drinks.
The label shows how much carbon dioxide was created and released over the product’s entire life cycle and is coupled with the manufacturers commitment to reduce this amount. Already, according to an article in the Independent, Walkers, the maker of the chips, has reduced the impact of its carbon labeled “crisps” (love those British terms) by a third because the labeling process identified all the links in the production chain that were (often needlessly) creating carbon dioxide and showed the company how its impacts could be easily and permanently reduced.
Because that’s what happens when you put carbon impacts squarely in front of everyone’s face. People become instantly aware of all the little ways that all the stuff of life is contributing to global warming. And they start to do something about it.
Which is why this label or one just like it should be mandatory for any product sold to anyone anywhere by any company. No exceptions. No whining. And that’s just for starters. We should carbon label our power bills, our plane tickets, our grocery receipts, our gasoline purchases. Even the cup of coffee we buy when we fill up should have a carbon label. This information would allow consumers to compare products and make purchasing decisions based on carbon impacts. It would create a marketplace in which companies would be highly motivated to try an achieve the lowest impacts so their products can have the smallest number. And, most importantly, it would make the issues of carbon impacts and global warming absolutely unavoidable and an integral part of everyday life. It would create 100% awareness in 100% of the population. That’s how you start getting the job done...