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Student Sustainability Committee Newsletter

Published on 03/03/22

The Stephen Perse Student Sustainability Committee are investigating the issue of food waste at the secondary school, having recorded a short clip to be shared with all students indicating the ‘new’ process of scraping plates, and how this will enable the sustainability committee to begin measuring the amount of food waste, feeding this information back to all students.

The Year 11 Eco-committee have been forging ahead with creating a ‘Biodiversity’ action plan for the secondary school, which forms one of the three themes required for the eco-schools award.

Danika, Year 12 student, and member of the sustainability committee, recently attended a Darwin College public lecture that explored the topic of ‘Food & Climate Change’ by Professor Sarah Bridle, University of York and author of ‘Food and Climate Change without the hot air’. Danika was inspired to reflect on the talk:

“It was by far the most interactive, well-informed lecture I’ve heard. Often, lectures are about being talked at and, although they may be insightful, it may require a deeper understanding of the topic than most have. However, Professor Bridle ensured that the audience engaged in the discussion and, rather than talk at us, she gave us polls and we could ask any questions we had at any point.

The polls were on how many grams of carbon dioxide are emitted from variations of one meal. An example that really stood out for me was the difference in emissions between chickpea tikka masala, lamb tikka masala and chicken tikka masala. Before I reveal the difference, a key fact that Professor Bridle told us should be shared with you: the global average food emissions per person per day is 6000 grams (6 kilograms) and, if we want to halve our greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 years, this should be reduced to 3000 grams. Now, for the result: Chickpea tikka masala releases 604 grams of CO2, chicken tikka masala releases 1889 grams, and lamb tikka masala releases the most, at 6178 grams - more than double our daily 3000 grams goal! 

However, a point Professor Bridle made is that it’s important to compare this to other things. For example, a return transatlantic flight emits 8700 grams so if you’re taking multiple flights a year, obsessing over what you eat isn’t as helpful as reducing travel. These points made the lecture accessible to everyone because she wasn’t telling us how we are all doomed if we don’t stop eating meat; she was engaging us with ideas on how the food system can become carbon neutral. For example, solutions like eating less meat and more plant-based meals frees up land which can then be used for carbon capture and storage or solar panels which would help reach net zero emissions (where our carbon emissions are equal to or less than the planet’s carbon absorptive abilities).

The lecture was energising and gave me the motivation to keep learning about climate change so that, like Professor Bridle, I can focus on creating solutions to climate change challenges. If you are interested, information on these lectures can be found on the Darwin college website. Lectures are live streamed so you can watch from home, and you can also catch any that you missed.”