Kelly’s Goal in Honor of Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary
- posted on: April 17, 2020
- posted by: Robin Crowder
Updated 4/22/20 with Kelly’s results. Scroll to the end to learn how she did with her goal.
Hi there! I’m Kelly, the facility manager at 21 Acres. In order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, I am focusing on reducing the carbon footprint of the foods I eat. Because I am honoring the idea of making a change, aiming for a more plant-based diet is my main challenge and focus.
Food produces about 17% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per household with the average 2,600 kcal diet emitting an estimated 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year.
GreenEatz discusses 7 ways we can help fight climate change related to what and how we cook and eat:
- Eat Vegetarian
- Cook Meals at Home
- Cook Smartly
- Eat Organic
- Save Water
- Shop Wisely
- Shop Local
I am lowering my footprint by: eating lower down on the food-chain, eating home-cooked meals, eating as much locally-sourced food as I can (primarily by building my menus around foods we carry in the 21 Acres Farm Market), and using my InstaPot as much as possible as it is an efficient way to cook. For one week in April, I am going to track my food use and consumption. I will calculate the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions in vehicle miles of everything I consume. In order to off-set these carbon emissions, I will use an alternative form of transportation, lower my thermostat, lower my hot water heater setting, and air-dry my laundry.
It won’t be an exact science; I will do the best that I can and will provide an update at the end of my week.
And here is how I am getting started…..
It all starts with research and gathering data to build a spreadsheet. I am using data from the Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health to obtain the equivalent carbon emissions of the foods that I am eating.
A simplified graphic is below:
My numbers will be biased high as these emission estimates are based on conventional production and distribution methods and not organic, locally-sourced foods. In addition, vehicle miles are based on 21.6 miles per gallon (mpg) and I drive a hybrid. Therefore, I re-calculated the vehicle miles based on my vehicle’s fuel efficiency using an assumption of 1 gallon of gasoline emits 8,887 grams of CO2.
Here is a picture of some of the foods I will be eating:
Fresh, local fruits and veggies, split peas, lentils, and polenta, hazelnuts, dried cranberries, and chocolate hazelnut butter. As you can see, I do not want to give up a few things that bring me joy in life, coffee, wine, and chocolate. I will be drinking coffee from Hawaii (actual brand not shown). I had to research coffee GHG emissions and discovered that 50% of all carbon emissions from coffee consumption are generated at the café. I make my coffee at home and will be using an emission rate of 5 pounds of CO2 per pound of coffee beans.
I already only drink Washington wines (#obelisco4wine) and I am eating fair trade vegan chocolate (and less of it, unfortunately) and will include these emission estimates in my carbon footprint calculations.
I realize my Earth Day commitment is not possible for everyone and tracking my carbon emissions with a spreadsheet happens to be something I enjoy doing. If you are looking for a simple way to reduce your household carbon footprint associated with food, consider joining the Meatless Monday movement:
Lastly, I want to share that I was inspired to choose this action based on the work of Project Drawdown.
Making the transition to a plant-based diet may be the most effective way an individual can stop climate change (excerpted from the book Drawdown). It is ranked 4th on the Project Drawdown list of solutions, presented as a pie chart here:
I hope to report on how I do! Check out this blog in the coming weeks. I’ll share what I learn. If you’re interested in anything I glean from this goal in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW’D KELLY DO?
First of all, check out Kelly’s great video on Instagram describing her challenge. Kelly’s pretty great isn’t she? Here’s a message from Kelly reflecting upon her week:
I finished my commitment! It was easier than I thought it would be, thanks to making yummy soups in my InstaPot.
My total CO2e emissions for the week were 0.025 tons which scales up to 1.6 tons/year and in line with a vegan diet, although I ate eggs and one can of tuna.
The biggest contributors to my carbon emissions in order were:
1) vegetables, because I ate so many
In order to off-set my emissions due to my diet, I will do a combination of the following, each of which individually would be enough:
1) approximately 100 miles of alternative transportation
2) 10 loads of line-drying my laundry
3) reducing my thermostat by one degree
4) reducing my hot water tank setting
Happy Earth Day everyone!