Forum Posts

sophie rotheram
Feb 20, 2022
In Final Submissions
'Veganism is the single biggest way to reduce our environmental impact'. In 2020 an oxford study found that becoming vegan can reduce an individual's carbon footprint from food by up to 73 percent. Our proposal involves encouraging people to make the change towards plant-based eating. When trying to think of ways that engineering can help to tackle some of the most critical real-world problems, we used a report by the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine to arrive at our idea. We considered different ways to solve the problem of world hunger by sustainably feeding the population. These initial ideas included increasing yields of food, reducing food waste and changing people's diets. We decided that encouraging a change in people's diets would give more individual responsibility and therefore a more positive overall result could be reached, even if everyone just decided to make small changes to their current lifestyle. We explored some other options including creating an app or educational resource but decided that these options may not be as accessible or convenient for the consumer. Our idea involves implementing a similar initiative to the traffic light labelling that is used on pre-packaged food items to show the nutritional information of the product using a colour coded system. The food items would instead be rated on their environmental impact using greenhouse emissions that have been calculated from a multi-indicator database that considers processing, packaging, and transportation of the products. Our idea is justified by scientific evidence that shows how making the change to a plant-based diet can reduce greenhouse emissions, help to combat climate change, and end world hunger. Green would mean that the food product has minimal environmental impact and is associated with greenhouse gas emissions no greater than 10kg of CO2 per 100g, whereas red would indicate a much more significant impact with CO2 emissions exceeding 25kg per 100g and amber representing the range in between. This criterion has been based upon a research study carried out by J. Poore and T. Nemecek that investigates and provides a detailed estimate of the environmental impact of 40 different food products, representing 90% of the global protein and calorie consumption, through producers and consumers. The study concluded that, although different production practices and geographies have different consequences for the planet, even the lowest impacting animal products exceeded those of vegetable substitutes and was an incredibly useful source of information for our proposal. Our long-term aim, although ambitious, would to be to make this type of labelling compulsory for food manufacturing companies with the purpose of encouraging people to make more environmentally conscientious choices. We would put a priority on labelling meat, dairy and animal product alternatives which can be used for comparison. Funding our proposal could be challenging, especially for reluctant food manufacturers, however we suggested some solutions such as using a non-profit organisation or university funded research group to create the database and having the support of an existing global food organisation to put the labelling into practice. Resources National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine Presentation PowerPoint Presentation (nap.edu) Study by J. Poore and T. Nemecek (PDF) Reducing food's environmental impacts through producers and consumers (researchgate.net) PRESENTATION
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sophie rotheram
Feb 10, 2022
In Concept Notes Workspace
'Veganism is the single biggest way to reduce our environmental impact'. In 2020 an oxford study found that becoming vegan can reduce an individual's carbon footprint from food by up to 73 percent. Our proposal involves encouraging people to make the change towards plant-based eating. Here are some reasons why: As a group of non-vegans, with some of us consuming more animal products than others, we are not perfect examples of how to make carbon conscious eating choices to combat climate change. However, we do believe that with the correct information and education we and other people would be more likely to change their eating habits. With a similar initiative to the traffic-light labelling on pre-packaged food items, showing the nutritional information of the product and using a colour-coded system to make it easier for customers to judge the nutritional content of their food, we have designed a way to also rate food on its environmental impact. Using calculated greenhouse emissions for the products, colour coded with red for very polluting and green for less polluting, we would make it compulsory for food manufacturers to include this figure on their labels in a hope to encourage people to make more environmentally conscientious choices. We believe that unless people have numbers presented to them, enabling direct comparison and an informed choice to be made, the significantly higher environmental impact of animal products will never be realised. We considered using an app or educational resource to allow people to check the carbon footprint of the products they are buying, however, decided that this may not be as accessible or convenient as labelling the packaging.
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