Green Your Eats – Carbon Footprint of Food Calculations

Interested in the carbon footprint of what you are eating?  These conversion factors will help you figure out the greenhouse gases emitted in the production of particular foods.  Comparing foods on a per gram basis, you can directly see from the numbers which foods tend to result in more GHG production.  You will probably notice simple changes you could make that reduce your dietary carbon footprint by quite a lot!

What does these numbers mean for climate change?

To meet the Paris Climate Accord, the US needs to reduce its GHG emissions by 447 million metric tonnes per year relative to today’s levels, by 2020.  That may sound like a lot, but if we divide that by the current US population, it comes out to 3,660 g CO2-eq/day.  When you look at the carbon footprint of our daily activities, you’ll see that amount is actually achievable with modest voluntary changes!

For example, a 8.5 mile drive in a 30 MPG car has a footprint of 2,520 g CO2-eq/day!  Eliminating that drive gets you 70% of the way toward the per capita target.

For some people, dietary changes alone can achieve the entire per capita reduction. For example, just one bowl of beef chili (that has about the 200 calories you’d need to bike those 8.5 miles) has a carbon footprint of 3,020 kg CO2-eq/day, while a bowl of lentil soup has a footprint of just 71 g CO2-eq/day.  So switching the chili for the lentils saves 81% of the entire per capita reduction needed for that day!

Why are certain foods so much higher than others?

Foods that require more steps and resources in their production will have higher GHG emissions. For example, livestock requiring feed will require more.

How to use the Green Your Eats Calculator Below
1. Choose a Food Category using the drop downs.
2. Choose a Food
3. Results will be shown in Column 3

Having Trouble Using The Calculator, Open This link and open with Google Sheets on your device.