Is your diet at work bad for the environment?

Is your diet at work bad for the environment?

Is your diet at work bad for the environment? 

We've written before about how common habits in the workplace can be harmful to the environment. Printing documents unnecessarily, failing to recycle, and wasting water and electricity are all actions that can hurt your green credentials, and for fairly obvious reasons.

But what about the environmental impact of the food and drink you consume on a daily basis?

In general, diet is often overlooked for its contribution to sustainable living. According to social network climates, which promotes the so-called "climatarian" diet, the global food industry is responsible for between 20 and 30 per cent of all carbon emissions - and yet it only takes a few small changes and substitutes to eat and drink in a more environmentally friendly way.

If you spend most of your time in an office and like to graze through the working day, have you spared a thought for how your choices might affect the environment? Consider the following, for example:


For many of us, coffee is as much a business essential as a computer and a copy of Microsoft Excel - there's simply no way of getting work done without it, whether it's a cappuccino from the local Starbucks or a quick cup of instant to kick off the day.

According to a 2014 study, however, a single kilo of coffee has a shocking 10.1 kg carbon footprint. This is more than even pork, which causes 7.9 kg in carbon emissions per 1 kg of meat produced. Maybe you could help the environment by substituting one or two of your daily top-ups for something else - tea, for example, which has a carbon footprint of just 1.9 kg.

Sweets and crisps

Most of us will readily admit that munching away on sweets and crisps through slow afternoons in the office is one of our vices, but we're usually talking about the health effects of excess fat and sugar consumption. As it happens, these foods are pretty bad for the planet, too.

A few years ago, a Nordic Council of Ministers study found a kilo of crisps is responsible for 20 times as much carbon as an equivalent weight of raw potatoes. And it found that crisps, sweets and soft drinks alone account for almost one per cent of Sweden's total greenhouse gas emissions. Why not substitute your snacks with locally grown fruit and nuts?


When it comes to lunch, pre-packaged sandwiches and salads are something of a staple in the modern office. They're sold almost everywhere, require no preparation and clean-up, and we can eat them at our desks if we need to power through the afternoon. Unfortunately, however, they're not great for the environment - individually-wrapped items create a lot of waste, and almost all of the options out there are heavy on the meat and dairy.

As an alternative, why not switch to a packed lunch or leftovers from the evening before? You'll gain much more control over your calorie intake, and you'll also be doing your bit to make your workplace a greener and less wasteful one.


Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of ThinkStock