They’re very young with clear ideas. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not. Rather, it is the briefest description of the kids of Generation Z involved in environmental issues. A wave that, following the example of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, is imposing on the public opinion and political leaders an agenda of topics ranging from pollution to land consumption, from climate change to the defense of endangered animals and food habits.
And even in the world of food innovators, the new “Greta Thunbergs” are becoming increasingly popular. This is what emerged in the latest edition of Seed & Chips, the Milanese event that from May 6 to 9 called for political leaders and innovators to meet at Fiera Milano Rho.
The event was also an opportunity to present the teenovators who took part in a contest organized together with “Francesca Rava Foundation – NPH Italia”, which brought together the kids with projects and ideas to change the current food system and face global challenges, following the lead of the Sustainable Development Goals prepared by the UN.
Few people know that in the world there are young people and kids who are committed to changing things, designing innovative solutions to safeguard the environment and to encourage more sustainable lifestyles
"Few people know that in the world there are youths and kids who are committed to changing things, designing innovative solutions to safeguard the environment and to encourage more sustainable lifestyles," explained Marco Gualtieri, president and founder of Seed & Chips.
Among these are the 13-year-old Ukrainians Nikita Shulga and Sophia-Christina Borisyuk who, with the Campola project, recover food in schools and have set themselves the goal of equipping the approximately 18,000 institutions in their country with composting systems.
Or Gitanjali Rao, also 13 years old, who was hit by the contaminated water scandal at Flint in Michigan (USA), to which she responded by designing the Tethys device. This device, using carbon nanotubes, detects the presence of lead in water. And then Genesis Butler, a twelve-year-old activist from California (USA) and ambassador for Million Dollar Vegan, an organization that takes care of the global campaign against climate change, starting with the changes in our eating habits. They were even able to include those of the Pope, whom the young woman suggested to adopt a plant-based diet during Lent.
Genesis Butler, a 12-year-old California activist and ambassador for Million Dollar Vegan, even suggested to the Pope to adopt a plant-based diet during Lent
In addition to their own testimony and their own projects, the teenovators also took turns on stage to introduce the main panels. A chance that allowed these very young people to speak and provide their point of view on the issue of environmental sustainability.
“I introduced a conference dedicated to the origin of food and how important it is to learn about it to reduce the environmental impact. A theme that I also touched on arguing that food is the only fuel we have and we cannot take it for granted,” said seventeen-year-old Francesca. “I tried to focus on biodiversity and the impacts that climate change can have on this. Because, once extinct, a species can no longer be recovered,” explained Gloria, also seventeen.
“I like technology and on the stage of Seed & Chips I talked about how some innovations, like blockchain, can help us improve our crops and make food prices more accessible,” said fourteen-year-old Martina.
Are they the future of our eating habits? If it is true, as The Lancet has written, that food production is “the greatest cause of global environmental change”, perhaps we should listen to the advice of Generation Z to understand how to choose what to put on our plates.