Low Carbon Lunch
The food system is responsible for approximately 1/3 of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reduce your carbon footprint and take a bite out of climate change, starting with your lunch. This lesson will help you to understand the environmental impacts of the food system and the importance of food consumption choices in mitigating and adapting to climate change. You will learn to identify opportunities to reduce emissions through investigating how the food system generates carbon emissions. Activities and discussions will focus on the potential environmental impacts of personal food choices. By the end of this lesson, you will be able to: * Describe the connections between the food system and climate change. * Identify the ways in which the food system contributes to carbon emissions. * Find ways to reduce carbon footprints through food consumption choices. Activity 1: The Cheeseburger Footprint Watch The Cheeseburger Footprint, an animated short by Margaret Sanchez, a student at the Art Centre of College Design, California. The Cheeseburger Footprint takes a look at the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from one single American fast food cheeseburger. Discussion questions 1. What are the various stages during the making of the cheeseburger where carbon emissions are generated? 2. At what processes and stages of the cheeseburger's life-cycle are carbon emissions not accounted for in the video? 3. What are some environmental consequences of the food system that are not easily measured in terms of carbon emissions? For example, water pollution due to agricultural run-off is not easily measured as a carbon footprint, whereas the carbon footprint of fertilizers, a major agricultural pollutant of waterways, has been well documented. In Groups or Individually 1. Pick a food item that you would typically find at school cafeteria or in your lunch box. 2. Create a flow diagram to show the carbon footprint of the food over the entire life-cycle of the food from production, to consumption and disposal. You can use the online tool, exploratree, to create your flow diagram. 3. Try to include all inputs and outputs at all stages. It is not necessary to find exact weights for carbon emissions at each stage. Simply indicate all the points where emissions are created with arrows. Extensions • Create a video or animation to tell the story of the carbon footprint of a particular food item. Activity 2: 40-Day Low Carbon Lunch Challenge Join the TakingITGlobal 40-Day Challenge to pack a Low Carbon Lunch. Commit to packing a Low Carbon Lunch for 40 days, from Earth Day, April 22, to June 1, and see what a big difference small changes can make! Share your commitment and challenge others to do the same. Here's how to participate: 1. Commit to taking the 40-Day Low Carbon Lunch Challenge and share your commitment with friends. 2. Pack a Low Carbon Lunch everyday during the 40-Day Challenge. You can follow @40daychallenge on Twitter for daily tips, or come up with your own ways to keep your lunch low carbon. Think local, organic and waste-free. 4. Start a paperless campaign at your school to encourage your friends and peers to join the 40-Day Low Carbon Lunch Challenge. Use word of mouth or send them a link to the commitment page. 5. Document your Low Carbon Lunch progress with a daily food blog, or submit your lunch tips and upload pictures to the commitment page. And, remember, the best way to pack a Low Carbon Lunch is to keep it L.O.W. - Local, Organic, Waste-free! Discussion Questions 1. In what ways can eating food from local sources reduce the carbon footprint of your lunch? What are some ways to eat local? 2. According to the Organic Trade Association, organic agriculture uses 50% less energy than conventional industrial agricultural methods. What are some of the ways that organic agriculture saves on energy and carbon emissions? 3. According to the website, Waste Free Lunches, the average student’s lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. What are some of the sources of waste in your typical school lunch? 4. How can students implement the 40-Day Low Carbon Lunch Challenge at school? In Groups or Individually 40-Day Low Carbon Lunch Calendar 1. Create a 40-Day calendar starting on April 22, Earth Day, and ending June 1st. 2. Add four days for reflection and mark June 5th, World Environment Day as a day of celebration. 3. Come up with a Low Carbon Lunch tip for each week or each day of the 40-Day Challenge. This can be done individually or in groups. If this is a group activity, divide the calendar so that each person is responsible for creating a tip for one or more days, depending on how many people are involved. 4. Share your tips with your friends and peers. You can also post your tips to the commitment page. *If you are using the Tread Lightly Virtual Classroom, you can post in the Class Discussions. Low Carbon Lunch Food Blog 1. Start a food blog, or journal to document your Low Carbon Lunch progress. *If you are using the Tread Lightly Virtual Classroom, you can post in the Student Blogs. 2. Upload pictures of your lunches and write about how you are making low carbon lunch choices. 3. Reflect on what you have learned about the impact that your food choices on climate change. Extensions • Plan a school-wide Low Carbon Lunch campaign to increase involvement in the initiative. • Launch the campaign at a school-wide event, such as an assembly, or plan a special event, such as a Low Carbon Lunch potluck. • Make one-page public service announcement posters to publicize the Low Carbon Lunch campaign. • Start a petition to have reusable cutlery and more Low Carbon Lunch options at your school cafeteria.