Schools Beyond Regions & Borders: Food Sustainability

At the beginning of 2024, George Heriot’s joined the ‘Schools Beyond Regions and Borders’ project. This project involves groups of pupils and staff from over 26 different schools in 10 different countries across Europe, coming together to share ideas on an important issue. This year, the focus was food sustainability, so a group of EARTH members met each week to discuss how we could work positively to improve food sustainability within our school community.

As part of this project, we were very privileged to be chosen as the representatives of George Heriot’s School at the week-long international conference and gathering in Trento, Italy. Being a part of this inspiring project was an incredible opportunity as it allowed us to share, with other schools, the ongoing and current issues we have identified and been working on. We also heard many creative and inspiring ideas from other schools, which we hope to implement at Heriot’s soon. We attended several talks by experts in the sustainability field, and it was interesting to hear their viewpoints and thoughts on this issue. One of the talks included a workshop on meat and meat alternatives in the UK; we were each given a stakeholder to represent and talked about advantages and disadvantages of the topic discussed. It was a really insightful workshop, as something that seems like a simple solution, is actually a lot more complicated than expected.

Not only has this project been a great source of inspiration and ideas for improving food sustainability, but our visit to Italy also allowed us to meet, connect with and form friendships with young people from right across Europe, through activities such as canoeing, visiting towns, national parks, factories and museums, and eating in local restaurants. It truly was an amazing week!

However, this project was not just about the trip to Italy, it was also about the work we were encouraged to do in our school and the online seminars we were inspired by. We investigated the main concerns relating to food sustainability and used this project as an opportunity to focus on these issues and try to improve them in our school. As a main outcome of this project, we hope to greatly reduce the number of disposables used in the Refectory by possibly introducing a small charge for disposables or pre-serving on reusable, washable plates. Our refectory manager has also suggested that introducing “meat free Monday”, which may be a possibility next session.

We have loved being a part of this amazing project, from the work it has inspired us to do, to the exciting new plans we are looking to start, leading to further embedding sustainability at Heriot’s.

Our thanks go to Mr Duncan, Ms Argent and Dr Tonini and the team from the Schools Beyond Regions and Borders and University of Trento team for organising this project and trip.

by Isla and Emily (S3)