Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New toolkits to help students love food, hate waste

students in lecture hall
Food waste is a complex environmental, social and economic problem. In NSW alone, households are throwing away $2.5 billion worth of edible food each year and businesses in NSW send a staggering amount of food waste to landfill. In Sydney 300,000 tonnes of food waste is thrown away each year. Most of this food could have been sold and eaten.
The problem with food waste going to landfill is that when organic waste (including food waste) breaks down it results in the production of methane – a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Wasting food also wastes the energy, water and natural resources used to grow, package, transport and market that food.
Food waste is not only a big burden on the environment – the 300,000 tonnes of food waste disposed of at Sydney’s landfills in 2007–2008 cost business approximately $36 million in disposal fees alone.
ISF researchers have been involved with several projects for the Love Food Hate Waste program managed by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). These include theLove Food Hate Waste short film competition and last year’s Zero food waste masterclass and cook-off.
This month, researchers and lecturers from ISF and the UTS Business School have developed three teaching toolkits to introduce food sustainability into the higher education curriculum.
The teaching toolkits contain all that is required for the development of tutorials/workshops focusing on commercial responses to food waste, food waste as a household issue and global food waste.
“It’s about getting the idea of not wasting food front-and-centre for students,” says ISF senior researcher Jade Herriman.
The teaching toolkits contain: learning objectives; suggested lesson format; some quick statistics; reports; infographics; multimedia; responses to the issue; class discussion questions and interactive activities; assessment questions and other possible assessment tasks; and a suggested reading list for students.
The Business School began a process four years ago to integrate sustainability into every subject, rather than treating the subject as an optional extra so UTS Business School students focus on environmental and social dilemmas as an integral part of their studies. The Business School coordinates the  Learning & Teaching Sustainability website, where these new toolkits are located.