Game that explores environmental footprint of food among projects aimed at tackling sustainability issues

Sustainability Exchange hosted a webinar to showcase five shortlisted proposals that addressed sustainability issues on May 25, 2021. PHOTO: EB IMPACT

SINGAPORE - Concerned about the carbon footprint of your meals? A game being developed by a group of youths lets you plant and harvest crops, rear livestock, and learn more about the environmental cost of what you decide to include in your meal.

Called FoodPrint, it features resource cards and recipes from all around the world, and aims to educate people about the environmental impacts and trade-offs of what they choose to eat.

The game was one of the five shortlisted proposals presented at a webinar on Tuesday (May 25) by Sustainability Exchange, an initiative which was launched in January by non-profit group EB Impact, in partnership with Facebook and supported by the Climate Action SG Alliance.

Sustainability Exchange matches mentors to youths to get them to better understand sustainability issues and apply them in business and policy settings.

Mr Rayner Loi, 27, co-founder and chief executive officer of food waste tech company Lumitics who mentored the team behind FoodPrint, said: "Foodprint is a wordplay on the phrase 'environmental footprint', and refers to the environmental footprint of food."

The team comprises environmental science undergraduate Ashley Yip, 21, from the University of California, Berkeley, geography undergraduate Lee Yang, 23, from the National University of Singapore, aerospace engineering undergraduate Ashwin George, 24, from Nanyang Technological University, and communications manager Tammie Kang, 28. They hope their game will raise awareness about the severity of Singapore's foodprint.

Participants collect points through completing recipes. Making environmentally unfriendly decisions, like choosing to rear cattle over growing wheat, will add to the global environmental damage score.

The game ends when a player reaches 1,000 points, or when the global environmental damage score exceeds a certain threshold.

Commenting on the proposal, Singapore Management University Associate Professor Winston Chow, who was on the judging panel, said: "Gamification is always a great way to help people visualise difficult topics."

Ms Yip added that the long-term goal is to have the game adopted as part of the national curriculum, as a tool for educators to start the conversation on climate action.

Other featured proposals focused on sustainable business practices and reporting.

Team Greenbridge hopes to help smaller companies valued at under $300 million to disclose more sustainability data, and Youth Sustainability Professionals seeks to assist small and medium-sized enterprises in achieving sustainable business practices and reporting, and assist youths in gaining exposure to sustainability.

Team Sus X aims to empower millennial retail investors to overcome barriers to sustainable investing, while The Green Concierge is focused on addressing the challenges faced by the hospitality industry in trying to adopt greener practices.

A total of 21 teams, comprising 80 youths and 21 mentors, participated in Sustainability Exchange over three months. They were selected from 146 youths and 59 mentors who applied for the programme.

Prof Chow commended the proposals for their level of research and practicality, while Ms Sylvia Lee, sustainability strategy lead at Facebook, said she appreciated the breadth of topics covered and the thoughtfulness in developing solutions.

Participants, meanwhile, said that they were grateful for the experience and opportunity offered through the programme. Ms Chevon Low, 31, a member of environmental non-profit organisation PM Haze, said she enjoyed working together with like-minded individuals to contribute towards a cause she was interested in.

Mr Egwin Fan, 27, a recent graduate from Nanyang Technological University, said he appreciated how the programme let him learn from sustainability professionals. "As youths, we may not have the industry experience and knowledge to understand what works in the corporate environment," he said.

Correction note: In an earlier version of this article, we stated that 21 teams, comprising 146 youths and 59 mentors, participated in Sustainability Exchange. This is incorrect. It should be 146 youths and 59 mentors applied for the programme, and 80 youths and 21 mentors were selected to form the 21 teams. We are sorry for the error.

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