Alcohol, coffee and sugar – enjoyment at the expense of the climate – knowledge


A cup of coffee in the morning and a glass of wine in the evening. Good for our well-being – bad for our climate?

Unlike with avocados or beef, we rarely think about the climate when we think of semi-luxury foods. But alcohol, coffee, sugar and chocolate have a major impact on our ecological footprint. According to a study by the sustainability consultant ESU-Services, the environmental impact of food could be reduced by a fifth if we gave up alcohol, coffee and chocolate.

Coffee, for example, is not only harmful to the climate during cultivation, but also during preparation. The power of the coffee machine and the water that is required for the coffee leave their mark on the ecological balance. The whole way from the coffee to our cups generates one million tons of CO2 equivalents in Switzerland every year.

What are CO2 equivalents?

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CO2 equivalents are a unit of measure that unified the effects of different greenhouse gases.

In addition to carbon dioxide (CO2), gases such as methane or nitrous oxide also have an impact on the greenhouse effect. However, since these greenhouse gases do not have the same climate impact and do not remain in the atmosphere for the same length of time, they can be better compared thanks to the conversion into CO2 equivalents.

Wine also has a major impact on the climate: there are around 400,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year in Switzerland. A study by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences ZHAW and the Research Institute for Organic Farming FiBL calculated the entire value chain from the grape to the production of the wine bottle. The packaging is particularly important – also for beer, champagne and co. Glass bottles can account for up to 46 percent of CO2 emissions. So should we only drink wine out of the carton?

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Jara Helmi from CO2ntrol and Cécile Kienzi from Zwei Am Morge make the comparison and test, among other things, how harmful their favorite cocktail is to the climate.

Which stimulant could you most easily do without? Let us know in the comments.

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