Does Your iPod have a Carbon Footprint?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your iPod has a carbon footprint.

With the holidays upon use, consumerism is alive and well. It makes me think about all the gifts I've purchased for loved ones and their greenhouse gas emissions.

What is a product carbon footprint? A product carbon footprint is the the total set of greenhouse gases emitted directly and indirectly over the life of a product. The driver barrelling down the highway in a Hummer has a very large carbon footprint as do your cross-country flights.

But have you ever thought about the seemingly smaller items? Items such as your iPod, Nike running shoes, or favorite Chanel blazer? They, too, emit greenhouse gases at some point during their manufacture, use, or disposal.

The concept of a product carbon footprint is a new idea, but there is a growing movement to get it going. In November, the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development published a draft "Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard." The standards are a big first step in setting up the framework for accounting and labelling. The draft is available for review at the "GHG Protocal Initiative" website.

Accounting and labeling greenhouse gas information on prodcuts would allow consumers to make informed choices. Consumers may not enjoy seeing the numbers, but at least it provides the necessary information to weigh the environmental costs and benefits. If demand for low carbon products is high, then the market may compel manufacturers to create more sustainable products.

To determine your individual carbon footprint and ways to reduce it, check out the Nature Conservancy's calculator.

Happy Holidays!