closeup of bulk food products at a grocery store

Understanding our Consumption

Consumption of goods and services (like food, clothing, electronics, and air travel) are not currently measured at the town level. The County of San Mateo is beginning to track emissions from countywide consumption and has developed consumption-based objectives to achieve a truly carbon-neutral community.

an airplane taking off with lots of heat and pollution under the wings


Air Travel

Airplanes burn large amounts of fossil fuels, producing significant greenhouse gas emissions. Alternatives to air travel include:

  • meet virtually
  • take a train
  • skip that long-distance trip altogether

Taking one less long-haul return flight can reduce emissions by up to almost 2 tons of CO2e.


Reducing Emissions Through Food Consumption

Eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and less meat and dairy produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Eating less meat and dairy also means using less energy, land, and water. Shopping at local farmers' markets is a great way to find more low GHG emitting foods and keep the emissions from delivering the food down. Use the resources here to find local farmer's markets near you!

rows of cabbage in a large farm
an adult puts a dress up to a child while another person looks through a rack of clothes in the background under a tent at a festival

Purchased Goods

Being Conscious About What You're Purchasing

By making some changes to our purchasing habits, we can reduce our impact on greenhouse gas emissions in significant ways. We have identified two objectives in this area:

Shift consumer spending from discretionary goods to local recreational activities

For example: Rather than gifting material goods, consider purchasing a County Parks Pass or tickets to a local show.

Reduce the emissions intensity of consumer goods

For example: Buy goods manufactured locally or produced in a carbon neutral facility.