how to limit your carbon footprint


Raclette is the favorite dish of 33% of the French. – Getty Images

RACLETTE – No need to escape. At a time when we are mapping the carbon footprint of everything and everyone, we wanted to know: what is the carbon footprint of the favorite meal of a third of the French? To clarify this, we will not have taboos in this article: from the vegan raclette that does not melt, to the energy balance of your old appliance that melts your slices of cheese.

Let’s start with an overview. The ecological footprint of the delicious mountain dish that is the raclette is about… 2 kg of CO2 equivalent per person, according to the calculations of the HuffPostbased on data from ADEME.

This can of course vary according to the calculations: for example, the NGO Avenir Climatique arrives at a result of 1.53 kg of CO2 equivalent per person (measurement made by the IPCC to measure the impact of human activities on the climate). As an indication, the association estimates that the carbon footprint of a tartiflette is 0.90 kg CO2 equivalent per person, while a seasonal ratatouille is about 0.24 kg CO2 equivalent per person.

An ecological footprint of 2.5 kg of CO2 per person

However, these calculations only take into account the ingredients used for a raclette: cheese, charcuterie and potato and their respective carbon footprint. To go further and obtain as complete a result as possible, it would also be necessary to integrate the ecological footprint of the raclette device, in particular its manufacturing costs and electricity consumption. Finally, you can add one or two glasses of wine to go with the meal.

So if we take into account the ingredients, the drink and the raclette machine itself, the carbon footprint of a raclette for one person would be 2.5 kg CO2 equivalent. This was indicated on Twitter on December 6, 2022 by Adrien de Vriendt, consultant CO2-free electricity.

To get an idea of ​​the equation, the carbon footprint of a cotton T-shirt is 7 kg CO2 equivalent according to ADEME.

In concrete terms, the meat weighs heavily in the raclette… But also the cheese, because the production of raclette requires a large amount of cow’s milk. But ruminants produce methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

The carbon footprint of meat is related to the way pigs are fed, especially soybean meal, imported from South America, which contributes to deforestation. Pig farming (for example in ham or grison meat) is also energy intensive and generates ammonia and nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas with nearly 300 times the global warming potential of CO2.

Raclette with broccoli, less wine… A heresy?

Warning, this part can shock sensitive souls. If the ecological footprint of the raclette is high enough, it is not irreducible. First simple gesture to lower it: reduce the amounts of meat and cheese. Yes, it sounds very sad… But on reflection, now might be a good time to introduce some new ingredients to your feast.

To compensate for the reduction in charcuterie and cheese, vegetables can indeed be real allies: the vegetarians around you will be able to confirm this, as well as the Germans, mushrooms where even broccoli goes very well with melted cheese, or even peppers or even… pineapple. As for potatoes, you can put as many as you want, their carbon footprint is very low.

Finally, we can also cut down on the energy consumption side: “It is better to turn down the heating before starting the squeegee, rather than opening the windows at the end” says Pacco Ba of the NGO Avenir Climatique. The association also recommends putting a lid on the pan when cooking the potatoes to prevent heat loss.

Last but not least: the wine. For your information: 1 liter of beer produces 1.5 kg of CO2, compared to 6 kg of CO2 for wine, according to figures from a Danish study published in 2010. Beer therefore has a climate footprint per liter that is 4 times lower than that of wine.

If wine has such a high carbon footprint, it’s mainly because of its transportation and packaging. Even if the glass can be recycled well, that of alcohol bottles is very thick and heavy, which means that a lot of CO2 is emitted during manufacture.

For a greener raclette, bring your friends home… black tea, recommended by nutritionists, or with a Cubi instead of a bottle. This cardboard packaging is lighter than traditional glass bottles and can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.

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