For my final projects in ICM, Pcomp and Web, I’m creating one big project around how food choices influence one’s carbon footprint.
The project is called economz (for now), and the website for it can be found here: http://economz.tumblr.com/
Everyday, multiple times a day, you make a key choice that will determine your personal carbon footprint. It’s not necessarily the car you drive or even the fuel you burn (although these are important sources as well) — rather, it is the food you choose to consume.
When it comes to your personal carbon footprint, your food choices matter – a lot. Some studies peg food choices as contributing as much as 30% of one’s overall carbon footprint.
economz is a visualization project that helps people make sense of their carbon foodprint. By creating meals using popular and standard food items, economz shows the associated carbon footprint using a gauge we’re all familiar with: car miles traveled.
There are two ways to use economz:
- On the Web — create meals, learn about your carbon foodprint, and share!
- Physical Installation — located at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, you can also create meals using our physical installation of mock food items
- What you eat is much more important than where it came from. The distance that food travels is only around 11% of the average American household’s carbon foodprint.
- Food production is what matters. More than 90 per cent of beef’s emissions, 69 per cent of pork’s and 72 per cent of farmed salmon’s emissions come in the production phase.
- Certain foods are associated with much higher carbon emissions, due to the production systems it takes to produce these foods — from the pesticides and fertilizer used to grow animal feed all the way through the grazing, animal raising, processing, transportation, cooking and, finally, disposal of unused food.
- Meat and cheese are the worst culprits: Lamb, beef, cheese, pork and farmed salmon generate the most greenhouse gases.
- The typical American consumes around 127 pounds of meat per year – on average, that’s 40 percent more than other developed countries
- If everyone in the US ate no meat or cheese just ONE day a week, that would be like not driving 91 billion miles, or taking 7.6 million cars off the road
- The positive side: Changing food habits offers a very real way to change your personal carbon footprint! Changing transportation and electricity choices can be tough in the short term, but food consumption can be changed pretty much whenever you put your mind to it.
economz will be a Web-based visualization project with an accompanying physical installation.
- Visualization project in Processing
- Physical installation (fabricate various food items and hook them up to sensors that can identify which food item is which and communicate that info to the Processing sketch; the food registers when it is placed on a physical plate).
- Website in Ruby/Sinatra (1. embedded visualization; 2. ability to save and tweet your meal visualization; 3. browsable gallery of featured meals and their “score”; 4. video of physical installation)
- Branding / Visual Design
- Show food items and drag over OR show menu and “click” on text items?
- How many output options (if you ate this meal once a week for a year? if you ate this meal once a day for a year? more?)
- I want people to be able to tweet their visualization, which people can then view at a specific URL. I need to save the frame, save to the database of my ruby app, and then post to twitter with that URL. “Food choices matter for the environment – a lot. See my carbon foodprint example at ~~uniqueURL~~ by @economz”
- Best way to fabricate fake food? Laser cutter (but with what material?)? 3d printer? Hand-made (but with what material)? Real food??
- Best sensor / identifiers?
- Meatless Mondays
- Eco and Environmental groups and publications
- Eco and Environmental writers/bloggers