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Monday, November 7, 2011

Strategic CSR - Carbon footprints

The article in the url below reviews a book written by Mike Berners-Lee about carbon footprinting. The book is titled ‘How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything,’ which tells you all you need to know about the book’s general content. The detail, however, is well worth exploring:

Author Mike Berners-Lee writes about 100 or so items, ordering them by the size of their carbon footprints. Flipping through his book reveals that a store-bought rose has a bigger footprint than driving a mile, and that a banana makes a more carbon-friendly breakfast than a bowl of porridge.

The goal of the book, in broad terms, is to understand more comprehensively how our actions affect the environment. In doing so, however, Berners-Lee also allows us to focus on which actions are causing the most damage and, as a result, prioritize our efforts in order to generate more efficient outcomes:

We might agonize over paper versus plastic in the checkout line, even though grocery bags account for just 1/1000th of the carbon footprint of the average shopping trip. Rather than worrying so much about how many bags we’re using, the carbon-conscious consumer would do better to skip the asparagus airlifted from Peru in favor of produce shipped by boat or truck. Conversely, we might not think twice about picking up a bottle of water, even though bottled water is 1,000 times more carbon-intensive than its tap equivalent.

While the accuracy of some of the numbers in the book have been questioned and Berners-Lee is unclear about some of his sources, his ultimate goal is to educate, rather than preach:

‘How you decide to live is a choice that only you can make,’ he writes. ‘I just want to help you understand carbon so that you can do whatever you decide to do with more knowledge.’