Environmental Footprints - Covering more aspects of food sustainability

Climate friendly meals are often good for the environment in general. For example, reducing the carbon footprint of our diet also reduces the impact on land use and of the oversupply of nutrients. However, in detail potential conflicts can occur between climate, animal welfare, tropical deforestation and water scarcity. 

The Eaternity App now provides the water footprint, rainforest and animal treatment score next to the climate score. With this set of indicators everybody can prepare climate friendly and sustainable meals.

Water Footprint

Reducing scarce water by more than 50%.

Globally, we have enough fresh water resources, but water is not evenly distributed. Today 663 million people in the world live without clean water. While food production (agriculture) triggers 70% of all our fresh water use, mainly for irrigation. Particular in regions where water is scarce this becomes problematic for humans and the environment, as we consume their water through the products we purchase. To help everyone, we need to reduce world wide dependency on scarce water by 50%. Displaying the amount of scare water on a per product and per country basis, Eaternity enables optimizations and complete transparency on the issue in a useful way. Learn more

Measuring the Water Footprint

The water scarcity footprint of a product depends on two elements. First, the amount of fresh water (surface- and groundwater, not including rainwater or water pollution) that is used for the product in that particular region of production. And second, the relative water scarcity of the same respective region.

The Eaternity Water Footprint sets apart in that it explicitly includes the water stress of a region as a weighing factor for the amount of fresh water used. Water stress depends on the amount of water consumed in that region compared to the amount of water that is naturally provided by rainfall and other precipitation. Note, that the amount of consumed water is corrected for that some of the withdrawn water is returned to the water shed, e.g. after use for cooling in electricity production. Our datasets allow us to differentiate this water scarcity factor between 162 countries.

Globally, the water we consume comes from regions with an average water scarcity index of 0.51, which means that on average, we are consuming water under moderate to high water scarcity. However, the average person lives in an area with water scarcity of 0.32. This means that many products are transported from water scarce areas to areas with lower water scarcity.

For example, a tomato that is produced in Spain requires 44 times more irrigation water than in Switzerland. Because water in Spain is scarcer than in Switzerland, the scarcity footprint of an average Spanish tomato is 2400 times higher than an average Swiss tomato.

Depending on what food is consumed and where the food comes from, every country has a unique list of food products that are typically problematic and contribute most to the national water scarcity footprint. In Switzerland, the consumption of olives, nuts, chocolate, coffee, milk products, rice and beef contribute most to the Swiss national water scarcity footprint. It does not mean that we should avoid these products altogether, but that we should be more careful in their use and that it matters where these foods were produced.

Eaternity provides water scarcity footprint for a menu and its ingredients dependent on the fresh water footprint of the product in that region and the water scarcity of the region. The 5 drops display if the value is good compared to other menus.

The Water Footprint Award

Menus that are in line with reducing the average water scarcity footprint by 50% receive the Water Footprint Award. This corresponds to menus with a score of at least 2 out of 5 drops.


Saving the amazon from being cut down.

Tropical forests store massive amounts of carbon and hold 2/3 of all land-based species even though they only cover 5% of the Earth’s land area. They provide us with fresh water and they affect local and global climate and weather patterns. The production of soy and palm oil, timber production and grazing cattle are the main driver of tropical rainforest deforestation and lead to a tremendous loss in biodiversity. Learn more

Indicating forest protection

The Rainforest Score is given to food products that did not cause deforestation. This is the case if the product contains certified soy or palm oil or if the product doesn’t contain palm oil or soy at all. In addition, uncertified soy is still fine if it stems from a non-critical country. For example, European soy is always a good option and receives the 3-star rating as well. Since 75% of all soy is fed to animals, we also evaluate and label animal products by the type of soy they were fed with.

The Rainforest Score

Menus receive a 3 star the Rainforest Score if at least one product contains sustainable soy or palm oil, or if the meal contains no soy or palm oil at all.

Animal Treatment

Treating animals well, feels good.

The life quality of animals raised for meat, milk or egg production differs strongly between different farming practices. Many farmers commit to improve animal welfare by providing more space, natural feed and opportunities for picking and digging. Labels guarantee that animals were raised under certain minimal standards and are a valuable guide for consumers. Learn more

Indicating good animal treatments

Food products receive the 3-star animal treatment score if they at least contain one animal product like meat, milk or egg and are certified by a label that stands for an established practice that improves animal welfare.

Good animal treatment actions Example of labels that care
Provide free-range options outdoor Bio Suisse, IP Suisse
Naturafarm (Coop), Terra Suisse (Migros)
Swiss RAUS Program
Stables that are adjusted to animal behaviour IP Suisse, Bio Suisse
Naturafarm (Coop), Terra Suisse (Migros)
Swiss BTS Program
Natural feed Bio – Weide Beef
Weide – Beef

Animal Treatment Score

Menus with good animal treatment or no animal product at all receive the 3-star Animal Treatment Score.

Updates on Environmental Impacts

09 Jan 2018 – Organic Footprint Project

Publication of the full booklet and the new environmental indicators.

The idea: a sustainability standard for restaurants

Read the full update.

08 Jan 2018 – Health Footprint Project

Publication of the full booklet and the new environmental indicators.

The idea: a sustainability standard for restaurants

Read the full update.

20 Dec 2017 – Smart Chefs Restaurant Analysis

The results are in - we are out of balance.

Wow, I never knew that eating balanced was such a challenge! I just assumed that eating sustainable was the greater one. Only around 6% of all meals served in restaurants that we analyzed fulfilled the criteria of having a good energy content and the right proportional distribution of protein, fat and starch. Off course, this is only one perspective of judging the healthiness of a meal, but it is a pretty basic one. Moreover, it is commonly recommended and applied by health and food professionals. Our findings are in line with the Swiss menuCH study which showed that most Swiss eat unbalanced, eating especially too much meat and fat.

Read the full update.

17 Dec 2017 – Smart Chefs Research Report

Organic and Health Research Results - Full Booklet Publication

In our report „Smart Chefs: health, climate and sustainability“ we summarize the findings on the conflicts and synergies between different environmental and health indicators. In short, reducing the carbon footprint of our diet also reduces the impact of important other environmental indicators, but potential conflicts exist with animal welfare, tropical deforestation and water scarcity.

Read the full update.

04 Oct 2017 – Impulsevent Smart Chefs

A culinary playground for explorers

On 28 September 2017, we informed about our latest findings in the fields of climate protection, health and environmentally friendly agriculture in an interactive impulse event. At the event we were able to share our 2 greatest loves with you. What unites us at Eaternity is good food and solid data. We bring together two worlds that should not be separated: science and gastronomy.

Read the full update.

12 Jun 2017 – Organic Footprint Update

The Conflicts between Organic Farming and the Environment.

Are organic food choices good for the environment? For the past two years Eaternity took a closer look and we found: It’s trickier than one might think. Here’s an update on our ongoing research.

Read the full update.

Research on organic production

The environmental indicators are the result of the Organic Footprint Project. Our aim was to create a common ground for climate action by summarizing current knowledge on the climate and environmental impacts of conventional and organic production.

As a consequence, Eaternity included additional indicators for water scarcity, tropical deforestation and animal welfare into the Eaternity App to support the overall goal of reducing the food related climate impact.

The resuts are supported by our scientific board of experts and partners. The project was made possible by the Engagement Fund Migros.


  1. Full Results of the Organic Footprint Project
  2. Organic Factsheet - Organic Footprint Project
  3. Decision Criteria Eaternity Awards (DE)
Contributors to the project:
Project organization: Isabel O'Connor, Eaternity – ioconnor@eaternity.ch | +41 76 479 62 47
Deputy: Judith Ellens, Eaternity – jellens@eaternity.ch
Siewerdtstrasse 95, 8050 Zürich
Scientific partners:
  • Dr. Scharfy Deborah, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
  • Itten René, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
  • Keller Regula, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
  • Dr. Faist Mireille, Quantis, Switzerland
  • Thierrin Raphaël, Quantis, Switzerland
Advisory Board:
  • Dr. Kapitulčinová Dana, Charles University Prague, Czech Republic
  • Dr. Nemecek Thomas, Agroscope, Switzerland
  • Dr. Pfister Stephan, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
  • Ruchti Karin, School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, Switzerland
  • Dr. Scherer Laura, Leiden University, Netherlands
  • Prof. Tukker Arnold, Leiden University, Netherlands
Experts and stakeholders:
  • Anderegg Marcel, Biovision, Switzerland
  • Hirsiger Eva, PUSCH Praktischer Umweltschutz, Switzerland
  • Meili Christoph, WWF, Switzerland
Made possible by: Engagement Migros development fund