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Welcome the section where you will be able to reduce your emissions fast and at the lower cost!



Sources: Drawdown Project Diet and Waste /

Springmann, Marco, and alii “Analysis and Valuation of the Health and Climate Change Cobenefits of Dietary Change.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016) /

Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations /

Zach Conrad and alii Relationship between food waste, diet quality, and environmental sustainability. PLOS ONE, 2018.

Omnivore v Plant-Based: Modifying what we eat is the single most powerful action to reduce emissions we can start on our own, right away and at no additional cost.

‘According to a 2016 study, business-as-usual emissions could be reduced by as much as 70% through adopting a vegan diet and 63% for a vegetarian diet, which includes cheese, milk, and eggs’ (Excerpt from the Drawdown Project)

Switching to a plant-based diet (with first best being a vegan diet) also brings many health benefits: ranging from lowering your risk of heart disease to clearer skin and boosted energy.

Food Waste: Food wastage globally represents 4,4GT teqCO or 8% of the total anthropogenic GHG emissions. In aggregate most of it is done upstream (mostly ugly produce discarded before reaching the store in developed countries). However, in high-income countries, consumers are responsible for throwing away 35% of our food, with fruits and vegetables wasted most (39%).

Better meal planning especially when switching to a more plant-based diet, less dining-out and rediscovering the art of cooking leftovers are strategies to help reduce your food waste.




Organic v Conventional: Organic foods are less emissions intensive than chemically grown food, manly due to the absence of chemical fertilizers.

However, because organic foods are more labor intensive they are 1) either more expensive than their standard counterparts 2) or have been grown in countries where the labor is cheaper but come with additional emissions from transport.

In-Season: vegetables and fruits grown outside of there natural cycle where you live are emissions intensive. They will 1) either been grown further away thus coming with a higher carbon tag from transportation or 2) if, they are grown locally, will be either grown in heated greenhouses under artificial light or refrigerated to be sold all year long.

Sustainably Grown: While organic focuses on the consumer health, sustainable has a broader scope and focus on ecological, social and economic practices making the activity sustainable for their farmers and the soil. Sustainably farming practice are more water efficient and SEQUESTER MORE CARBON in their soil. For those reasons locally sustainably-grown produce have a better climate impact than organically grown produce.


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On average (in the US), a meal will travel 4,200 miles before reaching our grocery stores with 1/4 being the final delivery from farms to stores and 3/4 of the emissions coming from the inputs delivered to the farm (like fertilizers and raw ingredients). However, those upstream emissions represent only 30% of the total emissions related to food transport. 70% comes from our own personal food-related transport (trips to the grocery store and restaurants).

They are a few strategies you could take to cut the transport carbon footprint of your food basket (ranked based on their impact on emissions):

  1. If you have room, grow a vegetable garden in your backyard. Not only you will be able to cut all your transportation emission but you will also be able to sequester carbon in your soil (i.e: soaking carbon from the atmosphere) - see section on carbon removal for more info. If you live in an apartment try a herbs garden.

  2. Reduce trips to the grocery stores and dine-in more often. Plan your meals, make a list, freeze extra meals: all those strategies help to lower the number of trips to the store and save you time

  3. Try to buy locally grown (in-season) food either by going to your farmer’s market or by checking the tag on your produce to find their provenance (each time you go: food provenance depends on the time of the year)

  4. Subscribe to a local food box



Emissions related to food packaging is estimated on average to be around 10%.

Reducing the number of packaging you bring home with your shopping basket help you visualizing the emissions reduction you made as your kitchen becomes less cluttered. Here are the main guidelines to reduce your packaging and maybe becoming packaging free:

  • bring your own reusable shopping bags

  • shop bulk. 

  • bring your own produce bags (you can reuse your current transparent bags, make or buy your own fabric bags, reuse your studier packagings…)

  • always have frozen home-made meals in your freezer to avoid purchasing ready-to-eat meals, pizzas… which always come with heavy packaging

  • recycle and compost your packaging when possible


Sources: Kling, M.M. and I.J. Hough (2010). “The American Carbon Foodprint: Understanding your food’s impact on climate change”, Brighter Planet, Inc.

© 2023 Helene Costa de Beauregard and Anita Bagdi 

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