Ecofriendly groceries: CO2 prices in Godot gameengine

During this summer i have ended my masters with a thesis covering an important topic, the climate emergency that threatens our survival, and that we should face with all our might.

To cover this, i chose to focus on the ad-hominem argument in eating habits: “if you eat this and that, you surely don’t take the crisis seriously” or “the customers just have to call for the change”. As you can see from the way I phrased it, I do not see much positive in those words. Because it was like that, i wanted to work on it so hard, that these phrases would lose their meaning when the granularity of those questions shines through, and in case of “the customers just have to call for the change”, that the customers would get as much Data to be head to head with their opponent in data at their grasp.

But would you recommend eating Vegan?

This is exactly the question that is used far too often, do discredit a Person based on their eating habits. Looking on it closely, only looking at the CO2 equivalent Impact of Meat and Milk-based Products appart from the moral and health based aspects, the Question gets more and more complex. During winter, a tomato-salad from a heated greenhouse with flown-in avocado might be far worse than a pork-steak. In the Summer the same salad might be better, also, rice on the side might be as problematic as a chicken from the Ecofriendly Farmer. And if the crossaint gets far worse than the currywurst due to the butter used, the problem shows a granularity far exceeding the one seen on first sight, rendering the rule of thumb “Better eat less meat for the environment” unusable. Here it takes numbers.

It takes numbers to set priorities, because we all know what is at stake here. I do not need to explain any of this to anyone anymore. However these tools to face climate change are something, the Industry will likely not be giving away out of good will.

So what should I consider?

If you want to help the environment, a CO2 Price for the items in store might be interesting. Maybe even reliable Seals like the EU-Bio or the Fairtrade seal. The people usually know what to look for, the 50% people claiming to use the Bio seal show that. However they don’t allways have it in their Mind, the Marketshare of 5% for Bio food shows this. Especially when you see eco-friendly People, that trust their favorite Ecofriendly Shop owner, buy their Bananas there and do not notice that these Bananas have no Fairtrade seal compared to the cheaper ones in the supermarket next door.

Openshoppinglist, my tool comes in here as a nightmare for the less than perfect producers and as a guide for every aware consumer. Openshoppinglist makes it possible to answer to “the customers just have to call for the change” with a confident “ok, then I’ll do that now”. All that of course with a piece of open source or “communist”, as Bill Gates put it, software on Gitlab.

With Openshoppinglist my group of testers could use Data on the offerings of all supermarkets to judge over them from the comfort of their own home. Doing this they can easily avoid all the Traps, Producers and Shops put in their way. With Openshoppinglist they do not get badly tested fake seals, they do not need to bend down in the store to see the good-for-them product that the supermarket wanted to keep a bit out oft their view. Everything is simply sorted based on their evact priorities like Bio-seals, price, vegan or, and this is where Openshoppinglist is special, CO2 price.

CO2 price? where do you find that?

Currently only a small amount of producers show the CO2 Equivalents they produced over the course of their time on their products. Bananeira and Provamel show, that they compensate their entire CO2, OATLY prints the exact values on their boxes and compensates some through PRIMAKLIMA. But all the other producers do not show any values and propably will not do so soon.

The ├ľKO-Institut on the other Hand released a spreadsheet in 2008 for groups of food. 2009 there was the CO2-Rechner from Pendos. The WWF published their numbers 2012, even though, i find their sources sketchy in this case. Then there is for the northamerican area and since the end of my Thesis, finally the IFEU published their numbers.

All those numbers mean nothing however when I’m in the Supermarket trying to figure out how much CO2 wich Salad produced in it’s lifetime and what I need to look for. Here, my new CO2 Rechner comes to play. It groups the contents, giving every piece of food a value, looks up the worst-case-scenario of the composition of the ingredients giving every product their own, worst-case-scenario CO2 value. This way there are no false hopes and the producer is encouraged to be more transparent, since with more transparency their CO2-Value can only get better.

Oh wow, how did it go?

Generally it showed, that the Openshoppinglist in the hands of users made them increase their expectations on the Market sharply. It did not suffice, that the product had the EU-Bio seal, the users looked more closely at seals exceeding these requirements. They also looked more closely at more aspects of their groceries.

Of course, a lot could be lead back to the idea that participants simply focused on this more because they were tested in this area, wich a control group would have sieved out, so this should be taken with a grain of salt. Every one of my participants however increased their expectations in mere minutes between being asked about those in the first place and being shown the interface. Simply because things like a CO2 value where easier at hand and the missing of seals was shown more prominently. All of the participants hence became radicalized in their selection based on sustainability. Hence I suspect, that the Openshoppinglist can only be helpful to force the market to produce more sustainable, and help customers once and for all find the sustainability they seek.

All this, and how I got to the decision to program it this way, can be read in my as always CC-Licensed (but german) thesis:

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