Earth Talk: It’s time to talk about toilet paper | Lifestyles

Reducing your carbon footprint is an important and valuable goal. Whether that comes from switching to an electric car to ditching plastic straws, every little switch helps when it comes to lowering carbon in the atmosphere of a rapidly warming Earth.

But when it comes to individual choices, one of the most important things you can do is consider carefully what you eat. Certain foods have very high carbon dioxide emissions, while others rank reliably low. Some of the most common offenders on the emissions scale are meat and dairy products. Nuts and vegetables come in much lower, partially because of the animal products they can replace. Some climate researchers have said switching to plant-based diets is the single most important thing an individual can do to impact climate change.

It’s known about 71% of carbon emissions contributing to climate change come from large corporations. But the individual can still play a role in keeping the planet safe. The average American family of four emits more carbon dioxide with regular meat consumption than by driving two cars. In addition to diet changes, consumers can push these corporations to improve their practices, potentially shifting the narrative more. Every conscious act makes a difference for the planet, no matter how small.

To find the foods with the most and least greenhouse gas emissions, Shelf Engine analyzed data from a 2018 study published in the journal Science. The data was collected through a comprehensive meta-analysis of 570 studies “covering 38,700 commercially viable farms in 119 countries and 40 products representing 90% of global protein and calorie consumption.” Greenhouse gas emissions are measured in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (kgCO2eq) per kilogram of food. This means non-CO2 greenhouse gases are also included in terms of their warming impact. Any ties have been kept. Note some sources of emissions may be negative. For example, nuts emit -2.05kg emissions as a result of land use.

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