by intern Emily Stephenson
For many people, going to the grocery store has become an overload of choices and information. There’s fat-free, low-sugar, free-range, organic, added vitamins, fair-trade and “natural,” just to name a few of the confusing labels. As the “Smart Choices” program has been put on hold, and we no longer have to consider Froot Loops and spinach in the same category.
But according to the New York Times, the Swedish government is the first to attempt to make environmentally responsible shopping easier for its citizens. In the pilot program, certain products will receive a total carbon emissions amount based on calculations that take into account fertilizer, fuel for harvesting machinery, packaging and transport. For example a box of oatmeal reads: “Climate declared: .87 kg CO2 per kg of product.” Products also can get a general seal of approval from the government that takes into account growing conditions or harvesting practices. Under the new system, carrots pass, and so do beans and chicken, but not fish, tomatoes, cucumbers or beef.
The new initiative has been eye opening. Not only in terms of Sweden’s environmental ambitiousness (according to the article, Sweden has been a world leader in finding new ways to reduce emissions. It has vowed to eliminate the use of fossil fuel for electricity by 2020 and cars that run on gasoline by 2030). But also for producers and consumers. The Swedish burger chain Max discovered that 75 percent of its carbon footprint was created by the meat it served. And since the emissions counts started appearing on the menu, the sale of climate-friendly foods have risen 20 percent.