Environmental Footprint Top 10 for the average French consumer

In 2016 Babette Porcelijn wrote a book informing Dutch consumers about the direct and indirect environmental footprint of their everyday lives. As background for this book CE Delft calculated the top ten environmental impacts of the annual consumption pattern of an average Dutch citizen.

This book is being translated into French for the French market and CE Delft was therefore asked to translate their earlier estimates into a top ten reflecting the consumption pattern of the average French citizen.

We take into account both 'visible' impacts like electricity use and food consumption and  ‘hidden’ impacts such as the energy used for producing and distributing goods. We calculate the impact of activities the consumer can influence, like the amount of holiday travel, as well as matters the consumer cannot influence directly, such as house-building and road infrastructure.

Perhaps the most interesting result of this study is that the purchase of products (referred to as 'stuff' in Babette’s book) and the consumption of meat clearly have a greater environmental impact than any of the other categories.

For most people this result may come as a surprise. In our experience, when people hear the term 'environmental footprint' they think of energy use, transport and sometimes waste and packaging. The large impact of food (especially meat), products and materials (for our homes and roads, for example) and clothing is largely unknown.

In the report we elaborate on the method used and the calculations made to reach these conclusions. The report has been used as input for the French translation of the book 'Hidden Impact'.

Besides this report CE Delft has written a short Dutch-language report for author Babette Porcelijn that provides an indication of plastic pollution per product group.


Lonneke de Graaff

Environmental Footprint Top 10 for the average French consumer

Authors CE

Lonneke de Graaff

Delft, May 2018