This post was written by student Nina Tapie (pictured.)
VIP student lead campaign prompted the University of Bath to change its plant-based milk regular prices to permanently make oat milk free like dairy milk in all campus outlets.
The ‘Student for Sustainable Food’ Vertically-Integrating-Project (VIP) is a student lead research-focused project that aims to promote sustainable food practices within the University of Bath community through various campaigns to encourage behaviour change.
Our latest project was a campaign to promote plant-based milk consumption by removing its extra cost in 4West Café. This idea came about from a brainstorming session about the future trajectory we wanted our VIP to take. We recognised that more often than not people are willing to engage in sustainable habits but do not necessarily know how to or cannot engage in these habits because of existing barriers.
Unfortunately, costs often prevent sustainable purchases and while plant-based milk is more sustainable it is usually more expensive. Therefore, by matching the price of oat, soy, almond and coconut milk to dairy milk for one week in 4West Café, we aimed to assess whether pricing was truly a significant barrier.
After applying and acquiring external funding from the GW4 Living Labs Net Zero Transformation project, our VIP collaboratively started to organise the campaign. We created engaging visual materials like posters and social media posts to promote our campaign and simultaneously inform individuals of the environmental benefits of plant-based milk. In addition, we developed a survey to evaluate the success of the campaign. For example, it measured awareness of the campaign, engagement with campaign promotions and more general questions about people’s reasoning behind their coffee and tea milk choices. A notable finding, corroborating with the campaign’s rationale, is that reducing costs would be the main incentive to prompt plant-based milk purchases instead of dairy milk ones. Alongside this independent VIP work, we collaborated and liaised closely with the hospitality team at the University of Bath to make this project possible.
Our successful campaign provided compelling evidence for the university to permanently drop the 40p charge for oat milk! The main takeaway from this campaign is that sustainable habits do not only come down to individuals but also the wider context they are in. We tackled this issue by informing individuals about the environmental benefits of plant-based milk and by removing its structural cost barriers.
Lastly, I would like to thank our hardworking VIP members, our VIP academic leads Lorraine Whitmarsh and Pete Walker and Emma Cockle from the University’s Sustainable Food Commitment without whom this campaign would not have been possible!
If you want to know more about our future projects, please follow us on Instagram: sfsf_vip!