One Small Choice for Consumers, One Giant Leap for Reducing CO2 Emissions

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To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, every bit of knowledge and transparency helps. Whether a corporation tracking the climate impact of its supply chain or a consumer making a more climate-friendly purchase, even the smallest shreds of information can lead to better choices.
In recent months, several large food brands have started to share the carbon footprint of their products. This new trend toward climate disclosures and transparency could have a huge collective impact, giving millions of consumers an opportunity to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by simply selecting a different brand of, say, milk or yogurt. Some 48% of U.S. consumers said they would make such a change if it reduced their climate impact, according to the Sustainable Market Share Index developed by the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business.
Of course, a single customer’s decision doesn’t solve a complex global crisis, but, as legitimate emissions labeling and transparency expand to more companies and more products, millions of informed purchasing decisions would have a tremendous effect. It’s a remarkable example of how we might integrate more everyday decisions into a collective environmental effort.
Consider, for example, the aggregate effect this could have on milk and dairy production worldwide. The global agriculture and food system accounts for roughly 37% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and dairy production accounts for a significant portion of this number. Some consumers have sought to reduce their own impact with plant-based alternatives, but more than 90% of U.S. households still use real dairy products made from cows’ milk. Plant-based alternatives can be a solution for some consumers, but in order to have even more impact we need to meet consumers where the vast majority of them are and provide them an option to help reduce their impact today.
What if all those consumers could, with a quick glance, select dairy brands that did more to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions?
Now more than ever, we can accurately measure and monitor emissions across the entire dairy production process – from fertilizers to cows and their burps, to the consumer’s own trash can. Companies can measure every last step, finding where they can improve and transparently communicating their efforts with customers.
Neutral Foods, the first carbon neutral food company in the country, has been transparent about our carbon impact since day one. We’re out to prove this is possible every day with every product we offer. One way we do that is by working with farmers to introduce hay species that contain more tannins, a small amount of which can reduce up to 10 percent of the methane emissions from bovine belching. We also measure and separate manure to isolate the parts of solid waste that produce more methane as they decompose, and then compost those for use as fertilizer.
As a key part of our commitment to consumers, all of Neutral’s products have been carbon-neutral since our inception. Right now, not at some date way out in the future. So we’ve already begun the work to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions in our supply sheds and will continually reduce our climate impact by increasing our carbon insetting in the years that follow. In addition to our emissions reduction projects, we’ll also continue to use carbon credits within the dairy industry to ensure that both the production and the consumption of all our products are carbon neutral as they have been since our inception.
Of course, this may not be immediately realistic for every brand in the dairy case, and we know Neutral doesn’t carry the same market share as the country’s largest milk producers. But that’s precisely why we’re excited about these labels and increased transparency by more and more companies: no matter which brand consumers choose, they can consider climate impact alongside price and preference.
The market still has a long way to go before enough products follow our lead. These steps are voluntary, and there’s no consensus on what information to provide and how. We’ll need standards for clear labeling and auditing, so consumers can make apples-to-apples comparisons.
If we do that, and if more companies are compelled to go along, grocers will start to dedicate entire aisles to carbon-neutral products, and all those individual consumer choices become better informed.
Then it’s not just Neutral and a handful of other companies eliminating greenhouse gas emissions - it’s millions of consumers, too.
  • walter lungayi

    48 w

    I strongly agree with. Reducing carbon footprint requires such actions.

  • Sarah Chabane

    48 w

    This is key! Every choice we make in stores has a bigger impact than what we think, transparency should be prioritised by all brands

    • Nils Fischer

      48 w

      You are doing a great job. Is Neutral going to launch outside US?

      • Annett Michuki..

        48 w


        • john linus Tom

          48 w

          Thanks for sharing this wonderful article

        • Ford Brodeur

          48 w

          Great article! Everyday decisions are not as "everyday" as they seem; they actually have a large climate impact!

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