Just think of how much we could do by doing without
While it’s entertaining to agonize over the relative carbon footprints of various consumer purchase options, it’s worth pointing out that the best option may be not to buy the item at all (“Measuring the carbon footprint of a cup of coffee,” Editorial, Sept. 29).
Which lawn mower has the lowest impact? The one that is never made in the first place.
If people are serious about reducing their carbon footprint, they need to learn how to need less.
Once this lesson has been learned, it’s surely worth considering the relative impact of the choices that remain, but the first and best way to reduce the impact of a purchase is simply not to make the purchase.
Wouldn’t a carbon tax be simpler?
As you nicely illustrate in your Sept. 29 editorial, measuring the carbon footprint of a cup of coffee (or any other item we may want, or need, to purchase) is fiendishly difficult.
In the end, it may not be really practical. The idea that individual consumers would digest and follow this type of information en masse to minimize the overall carbon footprint of humanity is far-fetched.
It seems to me that the only practical way to incentivize individual consumers is to translate carbon footprint into the prices of the goods and services we all consume. The simplest way to accomplish this, as suggested by many economists, is to institute a carbon tax.