Eco Chic - Carbon Footprint

Jo Alcorn of Whitewash & Co returns for another hot topic on our path to becoming Eco Chic. 

For our next ECO topic, I thought we could get to the bottom of our Carbon Footprint. It’s not surprising that in this day and age not many people really understand what it’s all about, with so many confusing definitions and information out there the term Carbon Footprint is loosely tossed around with no real thought processes behind it. It can be defined as the amount of energy used to create or develop. Simply, if I walked in a straight line to the other side of the room I would use less energy then if I zigzagged.



When products come from overseas they typically create a larger foot print than if they are produced locally. This of course, is common sense. However there is controversy to everything and this one can be tricky. Just because something takes longer to ship does not always equal a larger Carbon Footprint. You must also explore how the product is produced and the materials that are used within.

If a North American company had to order a certain type of wood from a company overseas before they can ship it to you in another Province. The amount of energy to have both companies involved is greater then buying direct from the overseas company. Wow, I feel like I am talking math equations here. However, to really understand the power of the Carbon Footprint, you must think of it as a math formula. I know, not that glamorous or fun, however once you get it, you are completely reshaping the environmental movement.



You can see why Farmers Markets have become popular once again. Not only is it supporting your local economy but it also has the lowest Carbon Footprint. When weighing out the math formula of a Carbon Footprint you must take in to consideration the materials within the product and ask where they are from to figure out the amount of energy used. Where is the fabric produced and shipped from? Where are the trees cut? How far do they have to be shipped to manufacture into furniture? How far is the finished product from where you live?

You might be surprised to find out that most of the big retail stores that claim to be GREEN actually have the largest Footprint. This is due to the fact that in many cases they rely on multiple countries to create the materials used within, especially when the “cost” to produce in other countries can be much less. In some cases, the process that they have to create a fibre or material locally actually uses more energy than another country. A good example of this is the oil market. Canada has one of the largest oil supplies in the World; however it is very evasive to produce, which also means more expensive. This is why we rely on our relationship with our Oil friends overseas.

Calculating a carbon footprint may seem confusing, but it’s actually more time consuming. Having said that, it remains one of the best steps to becoming GREEN! The Carbon Footprint is just as important as the GREEN materials used within the product, if not more! So next time you are out shopping for a product try to determine the actual size of the carbon footprint before giving in the go ahead. To quote Kermit the frog “it isn’t easy being GREEN!”

Until next time,

eco-jo

Images:  whitewash & co, woodcraft, random

3 comments:

  1. Good job of discussing carbon footprint ... It's a process I think of almost everyday when I am thinking about purchasing & products for our business & my home. How much output was used to get me this item? It's sometimes very surprising ....

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  2. This is soooo true! I'm so skeptical of "green" products because half the time the shipping and other pre-manufacturing is not green at all. Local is best, but unfortunately sometimes most expensive. Usually companies go overseas for their goods because the same products at home would drive their costs up and then take them out of the competition.

    I think when this economy balances out and people stop concentrating on the "best price" only on products, we will see a resurgence in the importance of cradle to cradle green products. Right now it seems the bottom dollar is the only driving force.

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  3. Great and very interesting post......we cannot assume the same standards that we might adhere to here in this country are applied abroad especially I hate to say it in countries in the Orient.....so often the "eco friendly" or green products are not what we always think they are or what we are paying for...this even happens with produce so you know its going to happen in the furniture and textile industries. I think in due time as standards become more stringent we will see a tightening of regulation across the board but its still a bit of a "wild west concept" right now in many countries and in fact for many Americans....in due time.

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