Japan has plans to label consumer goods like beer and detergents with their carbon footprints. Officials think the standardized label will raise corporate and consumer awareness of global warming. Britain and France already place similar labels on products.
So say you want to eat a bag of potato chips. Forget the calories — you have a carbon footprint to think about. Each bag emits 75 grams (2.63 ounces) of carbon dioxide. If you want to break it down, like you'd break down saturated and trans fats, 44 percent of the carbon dioxide comes from growing the potatoes, 30 percent comes from producing the chips, 15 percent comes from packaging, 9 percent comes from delivery, and 2 percent comes from tossing the bag. I'm guessing these figures are estimates, since each product must have a unique footprint.
While certainly more work needs to be done to make the footprint calculations accurate and globally standard, the label will provide information to consumers who want it, while everyone else can ignore it. And who knows, maybe businesses will become more efficient in hopes of attracting customers.