carbon footprint

Guilty Pleasures

We live in a high-guilt world. Last night was my book club’s annual cookie exchange, accompanied by a white-elephant gift exchange, appetizers, a puzzle exchange, and, of course some book discussion.

Our cookies looked just about this good. [Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash  ]

Our cookies looked just about this good. [Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash ]

Plenty of sweets were consumed. Plenty of sweets were exchanged for later consumption. There was even some parenting guilt, as one member shared about writing letters for her children to read in future, and others of us realized a child or two of our own didn’t even have baby books, for Pete’s sake, never mind letters packed with love and wisdom. (My third child’s baby book has the ultrasound picture pasted into a blue book—I thought she was going to be a boy—and there the book ends. Mommy loves you.) Even the month’s book choice was something of a guilty pleasure. It wasn’t Literature, but rather a fun little rom-com set during WWII (which we gave high ratings and recommend):

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I’m not big into guilt. Every holiday food extravaganza is more than made up for by January austerity in our house, but I did stumble upon this interesting food-guilt calculator. (That isn’t what they call it, but that’s its basic intent.) Not guilt in terms of calories or nutrient paucity, but guilt in terms of carbon footprint. Check it out here. That habit I have, of drinking tea twice a day? For its production and processing and transport, it’s equal to 30kg of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Helpfully (or not helpfully), they translate this into driving a car 78 miles or heating an average home in the UK for four days. Well, that’s annoying. But suppose you don’t want to give up tea? It would’ve been nice to know if switching to loose tea (less processing?) brought the numbers down.

Apparently rice is harder on ye olde planet than potatoes, and dark chocolate once a day is BAD EARTH NEWS:

  • 116 kg of greenhouse gas emissions annually

  • equivalent to driving a car 296 miles

  • equivalent to heating that stupid UK home 18 days, and

  • dark chocolate also sucks up 1,937 liters of water, as if you took 29 eight-minute showers!

Planet-destroying lovers of chocolate, unite! [Photo by  Simone van der Koelen  on  Unsplash  ]

Planet-destroying lovers of chocolate, unite! [Photo by Simone van der Koelen on Unsplash ]

Who needs such an annoying site? But, if your guilty pleasure is feeling guilty about things and then making no changes, it’s kind of fun to plug things in. I’m frankly more bothered by plastic packaging than dark chocolate. You wanna save the earth? Reduce your purchases of food and drink in disposable or plastic packaging. As you’ve probably heard, microplastics move up the food chain. They’re in our food, our drinking water, our poop.

This holiday season, go ahead and reach for that extra cookie or two. Go ahead and try that homemade peppermint bark. But, if no one else gets you one for Christmas, treat yourself as well to a metal water bottle, some glass or metal food containers, and a reusable coffee mug for those Starbucks runs. Here was my late father-in-law’s favorite, which fit his morning Venti:

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That’s all until January 2 (no post next week). Wishing you great, guilt-free holidays!