In sectional assemblies in the week beginning 16 November, Mr Buchanan shared his plans for the School’s Sustainability Committee and how we at Merchiston might embrace this challenge – you can read more from Mr Buchanan here.
His talks to the boys did get me thinking about the part we can play in our School community and when dashing up the stairs in Mount Olympus to teach, sustainable development goal 2 caught my eye – Zero Hunger. We work hard to ensure that our community is fed well and healthily; we listen to learn from the boys about what they want to eat, whilst at School and we are also incredibly aware of the part we can play in addressing issues of hunger in our local community. The initiative shown by Houses this term in supporting charities that support those in need of food has been heartening, and I know our boys care about those less fortunate than themselves, particularly at this time of year.
That said, as a School community we disposed of 420kgs of food waste from trays in a 12-day period; that was lunches for Fifth Form and above! And we are not the only ones guilty of having eyes bigger than our stomachs; 1/3 of the food produced in the world goes to waste. This waste is worth $1 trillion and weights 1.3 billion tonnes. It could feed 1 billion hungry people four times over. 25% of the world’s fresh water is used to grow food that is never eaten; there is also the pressure on land and CO2 emissions that this food production creates. Closer to home, food waste is worth £730 per year to the average family. Being more thoughtful about what food we need and what we can do with food we do not need will be key to addressing this problem across our society. It is exciting to see that there are apps such as OLIO that have embraced technology to allow individual families and organisations to share their surplus food with others.
Like so many challenges, the power of the individual and the decisions they make is very powerful in shaping the experience of others, especially when we unite to tackle a common problem– we see that on a daily basis at the moment. The writer Charles Eisenstein sums this up wonderfully (I am grateful to a fellow panellist at a recent education webinar, for sharing this pearl of wisdom with me and other contributions from the world of education). Eisenstein said (when speaking of COVID-19), ‘When humanity is united in common cause, phenomenally rapid change is possible.’ Perhaps our challenge is to take the same approach to sustainability? The 17 sustainable development goals you see below are not and should never be considered unattainable; but they do require unity of thought and determination.