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Sow the City unveils Carbon Supermarket at Manchester Science Festival

Do you know the carbon footprint of your food? Visit the 'Carbon Supermarket' at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester to find out.

A family at the Carbon Supermarket. Credit: Sow the City

A family at the Carbon Supermarket. Credit: Sow the City

The ‘Carbon Supermarket’ is a free interactive exhibit designed to raise awareness about the carbon footprint of food. Visitors use carbon to buy their weekly shop instead of pounds and try to stay within their carbon budget. It was borne out of the idea that people might be more willing to change their eating habits if they knew the carbon footprint of their food, and the direct impact it has on the planet. The installation is at the Museum of Science and Industry from Friday, October 21 to Sunday, October 30.

Through the Carbon Supermarket, Sow the City (a social enterprise working to build a greener and healthier Manchester) wants to help shine a light on the options we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The installation provides a guide for what a reasonable climate-friendly diet is and what trade-offs are required to achieve it. Every customer gets a receipt—which they can use as an example of a low-carbon shopping list to help them make more informed choices in their real supermarket shop, and which they can share with other people to help them do the same.

The Carbon Supermarket uses the idea of a personal ‘carbon budget’—a limit on the amount of carbon you create in order to help meet national or global targets for greenhouse gas emissions. It is the combined emissions from personal spending on housing, travel, food, products and services. Right now, the carbon footprint of an average person in the UK is around 12 tonnes CO2 per year (double the world average). If we are to cut our emissions in half by 2030, our carbon budget should only be 6 tonnes per year, which is approximately 5.5 kg per day for an average person’s food ‘budget’. When visiting the Carbon Supermarket, the shopper’s aim is to do a daily shop from the market stall and stick within this carbon food budget.

The Carbon Supermarket is co-funded by the EU and part of a project called Food Wave - a four-year EU funded programme engaging an international community of young people across 16 European Cities. Food Wave aims to create awareness on sustainable ways to consume and produce food with the aim of influencing food and climate change policy. The vision is to move towards a fair and sustainable global food system by 2030.

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Published 24 Oct 2022

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