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Tracing the carbon in your beer, jacket, shoes, and soap

Here’s a pop quiz, based on a recent Wall Street Journal article on the carbon footprint of various household goods. For each of the following products, guess their single biggest contribution to global warming. Consider all aspects of the product: raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, and end use. For example, one of the products examined is the Toyota Prius. Raw materials like steel, energy used in manufacturing, and transportation to dealerships are all responsible for a lot of emissions, but the biggest impact by far is — not surprisingly — the gasoline used to make it go.

Here are the other five products:

* **Timberland hiking boots.** Manufactured in China and sold in the U.S.
* **Laundry detergent.** Surprisingly, liquid detergent has a slightly smaller footprint than powdered.
* **Patagonia fleece jacket.** Also made in China and sold in the U.S.
* **Milk**. Fresh foods require an energy-intensive refrigerated supply chain to prevent spoilage.
* **Six pack of beer.** This fancy microbrew is made domestically, packaged in glass bottles, and delivered by truck.

OK, here are the answers:

Take the first step.

Start small. Be conscious of the impact your actions have on the environment and figure out what you can do to lessen the blow. Calculate, conserve, and offset.

For businesses, our Corporate Sustainability Plans can help you with your emission reduction goals.

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