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Sustainable Development Goals; Can Food, Snacks And Coffee Create Positive Change?

On the hottest day of the year (so far), 19th April, 26 curious individuals met up at the Leon Restaurant near Oxford Circus, London. We represented various organisations, institutions, or joined purely out of personal interest to learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to meet, connect and discuss with like-minded people, and to get inspired into action for a more sustainable London. Carolina Karlstrom shares the discussion with us.

This MeetUp event in London had a focus on SDG 12; Responsible Consumption and Production. Achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources. The efficient management of our shared natural resources and the way we dispose of toxic waste and pollutants are important targets to achieve this goal. Encouraging industries, businesses, and consumers to recycle and reduce waste is equally important, as is supporting developing countries to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption by 2030.

The London Coffee Festival took place just the week before this MeetUp, and the MeetUp organisers had therefore brought together different speakers related to the growing coffee and fast food offerings in London, to hear their story of how they started out, and what these organisations are doing, in particular, relating to tackling SDG 12.

During the evening, the participants heard from Leon Restaurants (who also, once again, kindly hosted the SDG Network MeetUp by providing the space and technical equipment), KeepCup, Snact, and Bio-bean.

In addition to the challenges, we were inspired by the many success stories that LeonKeepCupSnact, and Bio-bean offered; on saving food waste and natural resources, on coffee grounds powering London buses, on how reusable cups are seen as an opportunity to collaborate, on how at the upcoming Glasgow Coffee Festival there will be no disposables at all (so it is possible!), about saving 220 tons of food going to waste, and so much more. We learnt of the challenges in bringing sustainability into a business, whether this is in relation to cutlery offered or getting your customers to change their behaviours. Did you know that every minute around the world, more than 1 million disposable cups are used and discarded?! And in the UK only, we throw away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year – that’s enough to circle the planet five and a half times.

One of the things that I learned was not to underestimate the power of you as

So, what are the actions that you as an individual can take TODAY to make a difference for a more sustainable London? Well, the organisers wrapped it up in these takeaway actions: a consumer and a customer – you can ask the tricky questions of your coffee shop, fast food restaurant and favourite place where you buy that oh-so-needed snack to get you through the afternoon. And somewhere behind the scenes is a driven employee or a sustainability manager who will indeed thank you for it, when she or he can show that more sustainable offerings are what the customers want!

  • Next time you grab a disposable coffee cup, think to yourself- “Am I so busy that I can’t sit for 5 minutes?” (And invest in a reusable coffee cup!)
  • Next time you buy something really cheap, question it. A £1 burger and £5 pair of jeans is a problem- something is wrong here and someone in the chain isn’t being treated fairly.
  • Next time you talk to your barista, ask them what they do with their coffee grounds.
  • Try and have conversations with 5 people today about what matters to you and what we discussed at our Meetup (food waste, responsible consumption).

Would you like to join the next Sustainable Development Goals Network MeetUp? Keep an eye out on the website for upcoming events.

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Carolina Karlstrom is the founder and director of Jade Advisory Ltd., a small sustainability consultancy creating space for change in organisations and communities, through strategic interventions and people engagement. Carolina’s broad knowledge of sustainability is the result of 20+ years of experience in the sustainable energy sector and in leading strategic and professional sustainability roles. […]
Photo by Danny Postma on Unsplash
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