The Swedish government in 2009 announced new food guidelines that recommend eating habits based on greenhouse-gas emissions. Experts say these guidelines, if heeded by consumers, could decrease Sweden’s emissions by 20 to 50 percent.
More than 92 percent of Swedes want more information about the “green credentials” of their food, and producers responded to satisfy customers. Some Swedish companies have labeled their products to show how many kilograms of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere during production.
One Swedish burger chain, Max, offers beef alternatives and signed on enthusiastically to the new recommendations. It became the first restaurant chain to publish carbon footprints of menu items to encourage people to eat less beef.
Determining food’s carbon footprint is difficult and nuanced. Complex production lines make it difficult to track the carbon footprint of an individual product, and consumer suggestions are not as simple as “eat less meat.” For example, the guidelines discourage Swedes from eating cucumbers and tomatoes because in Sweden they can only be grown in energy-consuming greenhouses. Low-impact vegetables like carrots are recommended over the less climate-friendly ones.
—Jeff Raderstrong is a Washington, D.C., writer who blogs at changecharity.blogspot.com.
Washington State lawmakers have banned BPA (Bisphenol A) in baby bottles and food containers for children younger than 3.
Washington joins Minnesota and Connecticut in prohibiting some BPA products. The state of Wisconsin is considering a ban.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently reversed a 2008 finding that BPA, the main component of polycarbonate plastic, was safe. The agency said BPA should be studied further for potential health risks to children.
Plastics made with BPA typically have a number 7 on the bottom or the letters “PC” in the recycling triangle.
The legislature will have to hammer out differences in House and Senate versions of the bill; the House version extends the ban to sports bottles. The rule will go into effect in 2011.
The Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2010 warns that global consumerism is unsustainable and urges a substantial cultural shift away from buying and toward simplicity.
The economy may propel consumers in that direction. Last fall, a New York Times/CBS News poll found that Americans are spending less money and instead turning to cultural events, hobbies, and family activities. Lower consumer spending is expected during a recession, but the trend toward “doing more,” experts said, is new.
Read the full report here: www.worldwatch.org/sow10
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