Climate Change economz: Visualizing Your Carbon Foodprint

Published on December 26th, 2012 | by Guest Contributor


economz: Visualizing Your Carbon Foodprint

Everyday, multiple times a day, you make an important choice that will determine your personal carbon footprint. It’s not necessarily the car you drive or even the fuel you burn (although these are important sources as well) — rather, it is the food you choose to consume. When it comes to your personal carbon footprint, your food choices matter – a lot.

In fact, studies estimate that 30% of your carbon footprint comes from your food choices, yet few people think about food in these terms. economz is a visualization project that hopes to bring awareness to this issue by helping people make sense of their carbon foodprint. By creating meals using popular staple food items, economz shows the associated carbon footprint using a gauge we’re more familiar with: the emissions of a traveling car. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about how food choices have a great impact on one’s carbon footprint, and to suggest greener meal alternatives.

Launched by Sam Slover at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, there are two ways to use economz:

The Physical Installation

Unveiled at the recent NYU ITP 2012 Winter Show, the physical installation invites participants to create a physical meal using mock food items (like the ones you see in a store front). As items are added to the physical plate, a digital visualization is updated on the screen accordingly. When the participant scans a symbolic hummer, the visualization runs and determines the carbon “footprint” of that meal as shown by a traveling car and its miles travelled. It’s a simple yet effective way to understand how a plate full of food contributes to one’s carbon footprint.

The Web Version

Try economz for yourself using the Web version: Create meals, learn about your carbon foodprint, and share. It’s especially great for introducing children to the concept of their carbon FOODprint in a simple and fun way. The Web-based version is built in Processing and Javascript.

Questions or Comments

Interested in this project? Feel free to contact the project creator, Sam Slover, at sam (at)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

is many, many people all at once. In other words, we publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people. :D

  • Sherrie

    dietary carbon equivalence ! -assumed this article would reaffirm what Ive heard about the environmental costs of using cows… for meat. Learned a lot here.

    and -just did a quick tally at the link provided above- surprised! and planning to look at that again later-

    Thanks, guest contributor.


Back to Top ↑