Educational Board Games For Environmental Sustainability
As we better understand the impacts of our food system on the environment, the need for better education about sustainable nutrition choices is becoming clear. It is important for us to know the environmental impacts of the foods we can buy, and to make food purchasing decisions that align with our concern about the environment. The authors of this study developed a new interactive game, Burger.i.doo, which may fill gaps in knowledge to allow students to make informed decisions about their food.
To play the game, players start with a burger card with instructions on how to build that particular burger. Each card has one required ingredient and several other ingredients the player can choose. For example, a “double chicken burger” must have two chicken patties, but the player can decide what the bun, veggies, add-on, and sauce are. Then, players place ingredient cards on a burger station to build the burger. The winner of the game is the player whose burger has the lowest environmental impact and price and the best taste.
Environmental impact is measured by greenhouse gas emissions, land use, and water use. All players rate how tasty each burger would be, and the average is the taste score. Swapping out ingredients, such as different types of burger patties, shows students the direct impacts of their food choices.
After playing the game, two groups of students were surveyed about their experience. The first group had students aged 16 and 17, and the second group had students aged 13 and 14. Overall, most students from both groups found the game to be understandable and fun. However, students reported that they would not think more about their diet than before playing Burger.i.doo. The authors believe this could be because most students already felt that sustainability is important, so they might have already been thinking about their diets. However, it’s also possible that the board game is simply not an effective intervention to get students to change their behavior.
Educating youth about the sustainability of their nutrition choices is an essential part of the movement to reduce the consumption of animal products. Teaching students about the impacts of their food choices might open them to making more informed decisions about their food, and could also be used as an opportunity to foster empathy for the billions of animals exploited in animal agriculture each year. However, while students found the game Burger-i-doo fun, it doesn’t seem to influence them to change their behaviors.