A forensic analysis of the supermarket shop

Article published on Oct. 20, 2017
Article published on Oct. 20, 2017

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

In the true spirit of European Researchers’ Night, the European celebration of Science and Research, the city of Seville has concluded that even the smallest decisions we make, such as travel accommodation or what we put in our shopping basket, can impact the environment. Cafébabel Seville will show you how.

When we talk about the environment, prestigious international summits spring to mind, such as the one held in Paris in 2015 whereby 195 countries agreed to take the necessary measures to limit the planet’s temperature rise.

But if we take a closer look at our daily habits, it is clear that we as individuals have the power to change the world. The shopping trolley is a universal example of this and on European Researchers' Night, the Joint Research Center (JRC)  taught us the importance of paying attention to the products we use on a regular basis.

The Ecolabel

Value for money, offers, supermarket access, product variety and travel distance are just some of the factors that we consider when choosing where to do our daily shop. But what about our ecological footprint? Pollution? Recyclable or biodegradable products? Their efficiency?

When purchasing a bottle of detergent we should not only consider the price but its compatibility with the fabrics being washed (preferably always at 30 degrees), ironing difficulty (in terms of energy expenditure) and detergent needed per load.

These are just some of the issues raised by the JRC, the European Commission's only research service, located in Seville. With its economic and scientific backing, the JRC aims to fulfil the priorities set forth by the Europe 2020 Strategy, which addresses competitiveness, sustainability and major social challenges.

While the EU is not solely responsible for the environment - the responsibility is shared of course - the Commission is committed to this cause and is authorised to grant or deny companies permission to use the Ecolabel, depending on whether they comply with certain criteria. The system is very similar to the protected designation of origin scheme.

History and purpose

Established in 1992, the EU Ecolabel is an important part of the Community's policy on voluntary instruments to help businesses and consumers improve their environmental performance. Its motto is Better for you, better for the environment.

The aim is to promote the use of environmentally friendly products over other products in the same category, thus protecting the environment and its resources efficiently. This objective is achieved by providing consumers with accurate, trustworthy and scientific information and guidance on such products.

Remember, we can also be eco-responsible on holiday!

We also have a sense of eco-responsibility as tourists, not just while travelling to and from our destinations, but also when choosing accomodation. The Ecolabel is awarded to hotels and hostels that are careful with their waste and their energy consumption. Despite the novelty of having so many sweet and savoury choices, large breakfast buffets are not a good example of this, since most of it ends up in the non-recyclable waste.

There are no clear search criteria for users, but we have found a page that is useful in searching for accommodation like this. In Spain there are already 50: Book Different

A bet on science

For the sixth consecutive year, along with 250 other European cities, Seville showed off a more human side to its research, through direct contact with the experts themselves, and experiments, workshops, demonstrations, routes, theatrical performances, monologues... These activities were attended by more than 10, 000 people within the Marie Sklodowska-Curie framework of the European Commission's Horizon 2020 program, allowing us to show Europe what we can do and uniting Europe under the hashtag #NIGHTspain.