The University of Turku participated in the Climate Leadership Coalition’s (CLC) Zero Emissions Day campaign by emphasising the significance of food choices and food waste. The climate positive culture is visible on campus, for example, as high quality food research that offers support and new possibilities for making climate-friendly food choices. These themes were featured during the week of the Zero Emissions Day on 21–25 September as the University’s researchers set out on Twitter to discuss intriguing perspectives related to food.
In 2018, the University of Turku committed to becoming carbon neutral by the end of 2025. Also in 2018, the University appointed the Steering Group for Sustainable Development to design sustainable education, research and societal interaction as well as to shape the University’s practical actions to a more sustainable form. In the University’s upcoming strategy for 2021–2030, sustainability has been taken into account in all operations.
Daily Choices Hold Great Impact on Carbon Footprint
The University of Turku was the first Finnish university to calculate their carbon footprint. The calculation was executed by the working group assigned by the Steering Group for Sustainable Development. The lunches eaten by the members of the University community are not included in the University’s carbon footprint, but the individual’s own footprint. The multidisciplinary food related expertise at the University of Turku makes food and food choices an important component in the University’s work on sustainability.
– With daily food choices, everyone can affect not only their own health, but also their personal carbon footprint. The multidisciplinary food research at the University of Turku constantly generates new information to support the choices of individuals and communities, says Rector Jukka Kola.
Even the smallest mundane matters may hold a great significance. This applies extremely well to daily choices as well as to food waste. In the University’s carbon footprint calculation, almost a fifth of the entire carbon footprint comprises of food waste.
– By choosing a vegetarian option at lunch with a Finnish produced trimming, such as potato or barley, the carbon footprint of the serving is easily halved compared to a meat option. The significance of food waste is remarkable as well, as it comprises 17 per cent of the carbon footprint caused by eating lunch. It really is worthwhile to take only the amount of food you will definitely eat, says Project Manager Sanna Vähämikö from Brahea Centre who is a member of the University’s working group on carbon neutrality.
Flavoria Creates New Solutions for Sustainability and Well-Being
Flavoria® is a research platform that was opened in 2019. The research platform located on the University of Turku campus area, functions as a lunch restaurant and a café, but also as a continuous research and development laboratory. At the centre of the research, are people’s genuine experiences and choices, health, and sustainability. The multidisciplinary Flavoria platform offers an excellent framework for studying food choices and food waste among other topics.
– Flavoria combines natural sciences, food sciences, human sciences, economics, and technology through daily food choices and eating. Flavoria’s slogan in Finnish “syö-koe-opi-hyödy” (eat, experience, learn, gain), represents solution-oriented and engaging approach to learning, says Chair of the scientific board at Flavoria, Mari Sandell.
In Flavoria, we conduct both scientific and commercial research, in which lunch customers have an important role. With research equipment installed in the restaurant, food choices, the amount of biowaste, and food experiences can be measured.
– The customers participate in the research by using the My Flavoria mobile app developed by the University of Turku. With the app, customers can keep track of their lunch choices and the amount of food waste they generate. The data collected from the mobile app is pseudonymised before it is transferred to our researchers. This is unique in its entirety relative to both customers and researchers, Sandell continues.
The units of the University of Turku involved in Flavoria include Turku School of Economics, the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and Brahea Centre. From the University of Helsinki, the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry participates in Flavoria as well.
At the University of Turku, food research is also conducted at the Department of Biochemistry and Turku School of Economics.
The Zero Emissions Day took place on Monday, 21 September 2020, you can find the related discussion on Twitter with hashtags #ZeroEmissionsDay and #uniturku.