I love fresh Orange Juice. The fresher the better. Whilst I don’t go as far as squeezing my own oranges every morning along with a warm croissant I can easily get through a carton a day, the smooth version of course not the one with the bits in it.
It has however been playing on my mind recently that shifting all that heavy liquid around the world in planes can’t be the smartest thing to do. I wasn’t worried about it as such, more a nagging itch at the back of my brain suggesting that something wasn’t quite right.
So when I was confronted with a big black footprint on the side of my last purchase it gave me a bit of a kick up the proverbial. There in unequivocal language I learned that each glass of my lovely orange nectar was producing around 400g of carbon emissions per serving. That’s at least a whopping 1.6kg per carton, more than it’s own weight in emissions every single time.
I don’t know about you but that sounds like a shockingly large amount, especially if at my current rate of consumption I’m kicking out about a third of a tonne of carbon a year just for a sweet treat with breakfast.
Of course I have other choices. The label helpfully pointed out that by moving to the ‘from concentrate juice’ I could reduce things down to more manageable 150g per serving. Let’s be honest though, it’s just not the same, too bitter and syrupy. Instead perhaps I should consider switching to the delights of pressed English Apple juice, freely available, just as tasty and surely not as heavy an impact. Or of course if I could show a little more willpower I could just drink a little bit less.
This time around to my modest shame after pausing for thought in the checkout queue I still went ahead and bought the fresh stuff. When faced with the same choice again in the future, I’m pretty sure I’ll select an alternative. The question is will I have the willpower to act?
Our imperative has moved from selling more stuff to more people, which was pretty much the lot of indiscriminate broadcast media, to selling more stuff to the right people through careful targeting and digital media. The challenge today is sell a lot less stuff to just the right people and that will involve a lot more than just providing a lower impact alternative further down the aisle.
I’d like nothing more than to believe that all we need to do is provide enough information to let people make the smarter choice, however from my own behaviour even when presented with the facts it is clear that consumer choice alone won’t be enough.
At some point we need to recognise that our industry does not play a passive role. At some point we need to make our own individual choices about which products we help to advertise. At some point we need to choose to sell a bit less.
(A version of this post first appeared in Campaign Magazine.)