- Google tag (gtag.js)

// Why should we teach kids about food sustainability?

Written by Cracked // 27th February 2023

According to the WWF, 60% of the world’s land surface is used in agriculture and food production.1 That’s not a number to joke about. And with so much land being taken up for agricultural use, surely it’s important for future generations to learn how to sustain it sustainably, right?

Well, easier said than done.

Since the industrial revolution, farming’s become progressively mechanical. Larger areas of land have been farmed by fewer people, with more chemicals (like fertilisers and pesticides) being used. While the industrial farming industry has grown and spread its seed, the environment’s paid the price.

hands holding small globe

Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 70% of human freshwater consumption.2 What’s the issue? Well, excessive water usage leads to aquifers (a body of saturated rock that holds groundwater), river systems, and downstream groundwater. Areas soaked by irrigation (the supply of water to land/crops to help growth) can become waterlogged, leading to soil conditions that poison plant roots. That’s a lot of potential food wasted – yet another by-product of large-scale agriculture.

If you zoom in closer to home, you’ll see that 71% of UK land use is dedicated to agriculture, mainly for livestock.3 In some areas, foraged land is used and fertilised so much that its grass is unable to renew, with roots of native vegetation so damaged that the species actually die off.4

Food production is responsible for an estimated 30% of global greenhouse emissions5, so, we need a healthier approach to what we eat, a more sustainable approach to feeding the planet, and we need to teach children how to achieve it.

But why? What are the benefits of teaching food sustainability to kids now?

Well – in a nutshell – if we reduced the production and consumption of animal-based foods by 50%, global greenhouse emissions would fall by 64% by 2050.6 And if we stopped wasting food – which is more possible than we may think – we could cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 8-10%!7

The potential benefits to making sustainable changes today are huge, and fortunately, there are fun and interactive ways we can educate and inspire children to make these changes! With children often learning habits by the age of nine, learning sustainable behaviours early on will make it much easier for them to hold onto for the long run.

girl holding tomatoes.

So, what behaviours can we pass on, and what useful platforms are out there to help new habits stick?

Reduce food waste

In the UK alone, we throw away 6.6 million tonnes of household food waste a year, and almost three quarters of that is edible food.8 So, before you throw away the potato skin or banana peel, get creative with apps like NoWaste to find an ingredient’s hidden potential, and bring the kids in on the challenge! This app is also fantastic for organising food and expiration dates with ease.

Say no to plastic

Plastic has made its way into our natural world (and even our diets!). So, what can you do about it? Invest in reusable-bags to take on every shopping trip, and choose packaging-free fruit and veg. Need a hand? ‘My Plastic Diary’ is an app that helps you track, measure and set goals for reducing plastic in your life. Let the kids choose the bags, pick up the plastic-free produce, and let them see how plastic tracking apps can make a difference!

Encourage plant-based eating

We already know there’s huge interest and a growing uptake in plant-based eating across the UK. A BBC Good Food survey of 1000 children aged 5-16-years-old found that 23% were either following a vegan diet or wanted to be, and around 33% were either vegetarian or wanted to be. The same study found that 73% wanted to try different kinds of food.

Introducing kids to a more plant-based diet is one of the best ways to encourage sustainable eating habits for the future. But where do you start? And does that just mean eating more fruit and veg?

WWF’s ‘Livewell Principles’ outline it perfectly, but can you make it fun and engaging enough to inspire long-lasting behavioural change? It turns out, you can…

Inspiring young minds with Plant+

Plant+ by Finer Diner is a great example of the value of teaching kids about food sustainability. This interactive, engaging WWF and Sodexo initiative stretched across 15 of its school sites and aimed to inspire students to experiment with plant-based food and have fun at the same time!

By serving up memorable educational experiences and sustainable alternatives to kids’ favourite dishes, Plant+ helped students to understand the little things they could do to make a difference, and how delicious plant-based food really is! There were even toolkits and videos so student ambassadors could spread the word within their schools, and teachers were given resources to educate students in the best way possible. And to top it off, there was even an eco-prize fund to help encourage the winning school to continue its sustainable behaviours!

50% of students who participated in Plant+ felt more informed and inspired to eat more sustainably in the future, and students overall scored their enjoyment of the concept a 7 out of 10. We’d call that a successful mission!

If you’re looking for something fun and interactive at home, check out WWF’s ‘My Footprint’ app. It not only helps you track your footprint, but sets you challenges to help reduce it!

Children care about the planet

There’s a famous proverb that goes, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” While there is much cause for concern for climate change – and we’re running it down to the wire – there’s never been a better time to engage the next generation. In a debate of more than 46,000 children, 9 out of 10 said they’re concerned about climate change and more than two thirds (73.5%) believe it will affect their human rights.

It’s clear that future generations care about the planet and are concerned by its current path. So, we have the ears and eager minds to learn, it’s just down to us to ensure that their world is a greener one.

Feeling inspired to make a change? Get in touch to chat about making a positive impact with your brand.

Say Hi!

What's cooking?

We've got chunky slices of industry insight. Seasonal food tour finds. And juicy fillings of marketing tips, tricks and industry opinion pieces.

You may also like

Hey there, subscriber!

Thanks for your support, our latest news will be in your inbox soon!

Drop in your deets. You're in for a treat...