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food design for sustainability

food design conversation cards

Some food for thought...

  • Just shy of 1/3rd of our global carbon footprint is food related (Vermeulen et al. 2012). 

  • Up to 1/3rd of the food purchased in the developed world is wasted by the

    consumer – yep 1/3rd of the money you spend on food is wasted (FAO 2013).

  • Approximately 60% of the adult population in the USA, UK and Australia is

    overweight or obese and there are no signs of this trend decreasing (IHME 2014; NHMRC 2014).

When looking into this complex problem there are range of potential food related practices, such as shifting diets, that can reduce food related CO2-eq emissions. These include eliminating meat consumption (35%), avoiding domestic food waste (12%), purchasing local (5%) and avoiding packaging waste (3%) (Hoolohan et al. 2013, p.1065).


When you see this neat list of food practices it can be easy to assume that reducing food related CO2-eq emissions and other challenges related to food is a simple thing to do. While the strategies appear simple, and are great rules of thumb, actually achieving such change can be incredibly challenging. This is illustrated by the fact that ‘no country has yet managed a successful, sustained reduction in the prevalence of overweight and obesity, despite health and medical research’ (NHMRC 2014, p.1). While shifting food habits and practices appears incredibly hard, history suggests that these practices do change (see also Kiln 2016).

With Lancaster University I developed a set of open source cards that can be used as a tool to assist in formulating a conversation around what a sustainable diet may be; how design may be implicated; and how design may assist in generating potential interventions that may shift the current situation to drive change.

The cards are an engagement tool that we hope will facilitate conversations around our current food practices, challenge assumptions and critique the environment that we live in.

Download below under creative commons license.

food resource

Inforgraphic from conversation article how to reduce your kitchen’s impact on global warming

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