Good Grief: Toast Is Now Bad For “Climate Change”

Did you wake up this morning and make a couple slices of toast before heading off for working, sending the kids off to school, getting ready for some golf, etc? Did you purchase a sandwich that was toasted, or make a toasted sandwich? How many slices of toast have you made this year alone? Do you own a toaster? If you do, well, then, you are causing “extreme weather”. That hurricane that hit Bermuda? Your fault

The (Environmental) Case Against Toast

Far more important than the white or wheat decision, is whether or not you heat your bread.

Let me tell you a story about data dreams and how they are squashed and how you learn something about the complexity of the world along the way.

When we started this project, I wanted to create an infographic that would show you all the inputs into a particular product—say, a hamburger—and then display all of the environmental outputs, like CO2 emissions and land use. And then, you’d be able to tinker with that hamburger and say, “What if I got this kind of beef?” or “What if I have a whole wheat bun?” or “What does cheese do?” and on down the line. (snip)

And that’s when I found an excellent paper in the International Journal of Lifecycle Assessment by Namy Espinoza-Orias, Heinz Stichnothe, and Adisa Azapagic, which laid out the carbon footprint for bread, white and wheat, toasted and non-toasted. That paper formed the research basis for the infographic above (although with the changes noted below).

Wait, there’s actually a paper researching the carbon footprint of bread? Good grief.

The paper demonstrates two really interesting things. One, there is a marginal environmental advantage to the wheat bread, but an even bigger boost comes from not toasting it. Apparently, given the relative inefficiency of toasting (which uses electric resistance heating), a major component of the carbon footprint of any given piece of bread is whether you heat it or not. So, what you see above are the extremes: toasted white bread (which is the most energy intensive) and non-toasted wheat bread (which is the least).

So, your toaster is Bad For “Climate Change”. Why do you want the Earth to get Hotcoldwetdry? You should immediately take your toaster to the local recycling center.

In fact, according to the paper….sorry, had to stop snickering….the entire process of making bread has a huge “carbon foot”. Therefore, if you believe in man-caused climate change, you should give eating bread of any type. Do it for the children.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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