#PlanetPartners: Changing habits and eating better to help the planet
Release Date 20 May 2021
Research changing the way we farm and produce food, as well as major changes on campus to create more sustainable menus, are part of University-wide efforts to encourage more environmentally friendly consumer habits.
The University of Reading’s institutional and research efforts are underpinned by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are aimed at tackling societal and environmental challenges across the planet and are closely aligned with the University’s own strategy.
This May, the University of Reading is running a new #PlanetPartners campaign, inviting its entire community to share examples of work towards all the SDGs.
SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production seeks to establish patterns of consumption that do not damage the environment and lead to sustainable management of natural resources.
"Trials with small, medium and large farms have shown that the metrics will help us all have more confidence in our food system.” - Dr Laurence Smith, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Examples of work by the University to address SDG12 include:
- Working with the Sustainable Food Trust, UK and Devolved Administration Governments, researchers and the agri-food sector to develop a common metric to help farmers and land managers monitor progress towards sustainability goals.
- Becoming the first university in Europe to sign up to the Menus of Change initiative, which involves pledging to seek innovative ways to encourage people to choose healthier and more environmentally friendly meal options. This includes the University using low-carbon, local food suppliers for our campus catering, and even serving beef from our own university farms.
- Achieving a 17% reduction in waste generated per person at the University. Furniture recycling scheme on campus.
- Setting a target to increase the University’s annual recycling rate to 60% (from 50%). Recycling schemes include the Warp-it initiative, which allows staff to re-use unwanted items such as furniture from other parts of the University, saving items from going to landfill and the need to keep buying new.
Dr Laurence Smith, from the School of Agriculture, Policy & Development at the University of Reading, has been working on the Sustainable Food Trust-led Global Farm Metric. He said: “Currently there is no agreed way to measure the sustainability of our food systems around the world. This means that farmers and land managers can’t benchmark the impact of their practices on our planet, and consumers are unable to have trust in sustainable credentials in the food they are buying.
“It also means that the cost of food and farming to the environment remains hidden as those that pollute are not held accountable for the damage caused.
“My work with the Sustainable Food Trust, the UK and Devolved Administration Governments, researchers and major agri-food industry leaders is helping to develop 11 metrics covering all aspects of food system sustainability. Trials with small, medium and large farms have shown that the metrics will help us all have more confidence in our food system.”
The UN’s SDGs incorporate themes across the ‘five Ps’: People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace and Partnership. These align with the University of Reading’s own strategic themes: Community, Excellence, Sustainability and Engagement.
This campaign follows the publication of the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021, in which Reading participated for the first time and ranked in the top 200 globally, which scored participating universities on their support of the individual SDGs.
The University’s latest campaign is a continuation of the #PlanetPartners campaign launched by the University in October 2019, which is highlighting ways the University is working with global partners on projects that benefit the environment.
Follow the campaign and share your examples of work on Twitter: @UniofReading | Facebook: /theuniversityofreading | Instagram: @uniofreading | LinkedIn: University of Reading | TikTok: @uniofreading using the hashtags #PlanetPartners and #sdgoals