Gas stoves are used in millions of homes across the country, but a large and growing body of evidence tells us that they pose a significant threat to health. Combusting gas emits several toxic pollutants that can worsen symptoms for people with respiratory illnesses and even cause asthma to develop in children. Just running your stove for a couple of minutes with poor ventilation can raise pollution levels in your home above health-based standards for outdoor air.
And while we already knew burning gas was bad for the environment, a new study from Stanford tells us that gas stoves actually continuously emit methane, a planet-warming greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide. In fact, the study estimates that all the gas stoves in the United States annually emit an amount of methane equivalent to the carbon dioxide pollution of half a million cars.
So gas stoves are both a health risk and a threat to climate. The solution? One thing we can do is start educating consumers on the dangers of gas stoves. Many people in the market right now for a new stove don’t know about the dangers of cooking with gas stoves. If they were warned, they may be more likely to choose electric and induction alternatives that wouldn’t pollute their homes and lock them into dirty gas infrastructure for the next two decades.
Ideally, all manufacturers should be required to put warning labels on their gas stoves. In the meantime, however, retailers have the power and the responsibility to change the way they market stoves by informing customers of the health risks of gas and telling them about the benefits of going electric.
Take Best Buy, for example. First, they have a huge reach, with over 1,000 locations across the U.S. And though a lot of people might first think of Home Depot or Lowe’s when buying a gas stove, in terms of market share, Best Buy is right up there as the country’s third largest appliance retailer. More importantly, they’re one of the better companies when it comes to commitments to addressing climate change. Here are a few examples:
Best Buy pledged to be completely carbon neutral by 2040. The retailer is a founding member of the Race to Zero campaign, which aims to encourage climate action in the industry, and has already reduced emissions 61% since 2009.
The company invests in solar projects like the Best Buy Solar Field in Martin, South Carolina, which produces 174,000 MW hours of clean electricity annually for the local power grid.
Best Buy operates the nation’s largest e-waste recycling program that allows customers to recycle up to three items per household per day for free, while most recycling facilities charge for electronic devices.
They’ve also pledged to help their customers reduce their own carbon emissions by 20% by 2030 by offering a wide range of Energy Star certified products, which are the most efficient, and by promoting products designed for sustainable living. (How easy would it be to add induction stoves to that page!) They’ve also been named Energy Star Partner of the Year for seven consecutive years by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for providing Energy Star training for employees and making certified products easy to find in stores and online.
Best Buy has clearly demonstrated a strong commitment to climate action, and done a great job already promoting efficient products with the Energy Star label. And while Energy Star designations don’t apply to stoves yet, Best Buy has an existing model for promoting green products that works. It’s not a stretch to think they could do the same for induction and electric stoves— especially when you add the incredibly compelling need to transition away from gas, not just for climate, but for public health.
Best Buy has cultivated a brand known for introducing their customers to the best, newest tech, that all comes back to their purpose, proudly listed on the About Best Buy web page: “to enrich lives through technology.”
When it comes to selling stoves, there’s no better way to enrich lives than by helping families choose electric options that are safe and clean. These stoves will be in homes for years to come. By taking on the initiative to educate consumers about the health and climate impacts of cooking with gas, Best Buy could set an example for the rest of the industry, work towards achieving their own climate goals and protect the health of their customers.
Image credit: Best Buy in London, ON by Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine via (CC0 1.0)