Using Design Thinking To Address Global Warming From Our Own Kitchen

Photo credit: NOAA

“ It’s a collective endeavour, it’s collective accountability and it may not be too late.”

— Christine Lagarde (Managing Director, IMF) on Climate Change

I looked up Project Drawdown again yesterday when discussing the topic of climate change with kids. As one of the most comprehensive and respected plans to reverse climate change, it lists the top 100 solutions to reverse global warming.

My 9-year-old and 7-year-old found interesting that eight of the top twenty in the list are related to the food system, such as supporting regenerative agriculture and reducing food waste.

“Is there anything that we can do, mummy, to slow down the temperature rising so poor polar bears won’t be starving because of ice melting?”, they asked. Therefore, on that Saturday afternoon, we ended up having a mini design thinking workshop in finding ways at home to make an impact. I encouraged both of them to prototype ways that they thought to be able to add into our practice in the kitchen. My older one was in the process of preparing for cooking competition in school after Christmas holiday, so she was extremely motivated!

We came up with a lot of solutions from food shopping to cooking. Most importantly, we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon spending time with family, collaborating and had fun with design thinking methodology. Here are a few simple ways that I would like to share to design-think your way to address global warming from your own kitchen.

Collaborate — it’s teamwork

“ Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

— Hellen Keller

In order to save our planet earth before it’s too late, let’s talk about it with people around us; let’s cook and eat together more with family and friends instead of ordering takeaways and buying ready/semi-ready meals. If there are leftovers, send your guests home with them or use them to make stir-fry tomorrow.

Buy less and buy local (better)

Not all food waste is created equal. The moldy avocado you never got around to eat actually used up more resources than an avocado left on the tree, because it wasted the resources used to pick, pack, ship and store. Therefore, trying to buy less when shopping would be a great start in cutting down food waste.

I grew up shopping at the local fresh market daily and having seasonal fruits and vegetables. Nowadays, it’s easy to have anything anytime we want, like watermelon in winter and clementines in spring — they look perfect but don’t taste the same. Nature has constraints. Let’s make an effort to shop more at local farmers markets. You will get inspired by the seasonal product and you can promote sustainable soil practices.

Adopt an experimental mindset

“Cutting back on red meat in particular can make a surprisingly large difference: According to a World Resources Institute analysis, if the average American replaced a third of the beef he or she eats with pork, poultry or legumes, his or her food-related emissions would still fall by around 13 percent.”

— New York Times

For a lot of meat-lovers, such as my husband and both kids, the phrase of “don’t eat meat” or “eat less meat” set off alarms in their head and they quickly enter into defensive mode. Instead, I have been trying to persuade them ‘try eating more plants’ and it worked wonders.

We can experiment slowly by introducing more plant-based diets and gradually reduce meat intake at the same time. I have successfully introduced lentil burgers to kids and they loved it! It would also be a fun family activity to prototype plant-based food.

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UX Designer. www.yaochendesign.com

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Yao Chen

Yao Chen

UX Designer. www.yaochendesign.com

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