Gymnasium der Schulstiftung Seligenthal

Finalist for the region South-East


In times of climate change, our own ecological footprint plays an increasingly important role. This is the biologically productive area (gha) on earth that would be necessary to maintain our own standard of living in the long term. The global average ecological footprint is about 2.7 gha, which is equivalent to about 1.7 Earths.

Alongside the factors housing, mobility and consumption, our diet accounts for the largest share of our sustainability indicator. Of this large share, around 80%-are consumed in animal-based-food.

The different types of animal-based-food also show significant differences in annual CO2 emissions.

Consequently, it is clear that in order to battle climate change or even undo some of its negative repercussions, we must urgently, among other things, change our diet.

We at GreenChoice have therefore made it our mission to find a solution to the widespread consumption of animal-based meals in public refectories and company canteens.

For our concept to be successful, we need to avail ourselves of a payment system for canteens that revolves around a GreenChoice card and the willingness of participating canteens to cook according to environment-friendly recipes developed by nutritionists.

When it comes to the composition of the recipes, we put particular value on the seasonality and regionality of the ingredients.

By utilizing the principle of “nudging,” we hope to use positive incentives to encourage shoppers to choose the more environment-friendly dish voluntarily.

On monitors set up in the canteen area, we, therefore, enable consumers, after registering by card, to vote via software which environment-friendly dishes a canteen is supposed to offer in the upcoming week.

In addition, shoppers are free to rate the individual dishes. We also provide the customer with all the recipes and their personal carbon footprint based on the ingredients and how they are produced and processed.

Furthermore, the consumer can collect so-called “climate points,” which are awarded in certain numbers depending on the environmental friendliness of the particular dish. Accordingly, a particularly high number of climate points is rewarded with discounts at the end of the month.

GreenChoice thus not only provides companies with the opportunity to set an example for environmental awareness and a particular zeitgeist, but animal-based dishes are often unhealthier compared to vegan or vegetarian alternatives and thus negatively impact their employees’ health in the long run.

The existence of health promotion facilities maintained by large corporations such as BMW testify to the interest of companies in strengthening the health and performance of the aforementioned employees.

To sum it up concisely, our approach to climate protection on a regional level is characterized by its originality and its unique selling proposition. There is no comparable concept available as we speak (and to cap it off, there is a massive upside for both employees and employers).

Their YES! topic

The climate at the limit – how can climate/environmental protection take place at a local level?

by Dr. Larissa Zierow, Lavinia Kinne, Vera Freundl, Katharina Wedel (ifo Institut)

Climate change is one of the most urgent problems of our time. How fast the climate changes is already shown by observable weather extremes such as heat waves, heavy rainfall and droughts. Mainly due to human influence, the earth has been warmed to an extent not seen in the last 2000 years (IPCC, 2021). Numerous climate strikes, for example, organised by “Fridays for Future”, brought the dangers to our environment increasingly into the discussion. The extent to which this issue also concerns German politics was demonstrated in the 2021 federal election campaign: the strong increase in votes for the “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen” party, which campaigned with a focus on climate protection, suggests that the population attaches growing importance to this issue.

However, while politicians discuss climate protection measures at the (inter)national level, a lot can already be done for our environment with simple measures at the local level. A study by the University of Bonn, for example, shows how consumption information on a display in the shower can reduce water and energy consumption in the shower by 22 per cent on average (University of Bonn, 2017). Various student initiatives are also working on proposals to protect our planet (e.g. the “Climate Ambassadors” project). This is where this YES! topic picks up. The idea is to develop a concrete measure that makes an effective and efficient contribution to climate protection in your region. The initiative should reach as many people as possible and be tailored to the specifics of your area – for example, through cooperation with local companies, institutions, politicians or universities. Even small changes can bring big progress! Your idea can be related to everyday school life and everyday life in the neighbourhood; ideas and plans for local implementation are important.

  • Why is climate protection important for everyone? Where and how can you make important contributions to climate protection with simple measures?
  • What can be done specifically in your neighbourhood and/or at your school for climate protection? What already exists, and where is there still room for improvement?
  • Are there local companies or institutions you can work with to implement a climate-friendly initiative? (e.g. supermarkets, universities, cafés/restaurants, start-ups, tech/IT companies, …).
  • How can such initiatives be implemented in a long-term, inclusive, fair and peaceful way?
  • What resources would be saved by your project? What are the costs (time, money, process changes, …), and what are the benefits (short and long term)?

Vera Freundl

Photo: ifo Institut

Vera Freundl is a subject specialist at the Centre for the Economics of Education at the Ifo Institute, Munich. She is involved in science management in the field and works, for example, with representative opinion surveys on education policy in Germany.

Lavinia Kinne

Photo: ifo Institut

Lavinia Kinne is a doctoral student at the Ifo Institute in Munich in the field of economics of education. Her research interests are mainly in the area of gender differences and the relevance of education on the labour market, but she also conducts research on international comparisons of education systems.

Katharina Wedel

Foto: ifo Institut

Katharina Wedel is a doctoral student at the Centre for the Economics of Education at the Ifo Institute in Munich. In her research, she investigates the effectiveness of a mentoring programme for schoolchildren in Germany as well as determinants of student performance, in particular the influence of teaching time.

Larissa Zierow

Photo: ifo

Larissa Zierow is Deputy Director of the Ifo Center for the Economics of Education at the Ifo Institute in Munich. Her research focuses on the effects of significant school reforms in Germany since 1950 and their impact on the students affected. Her research also focuses on early childhood education, inequality and, since 2020, the consequences of the Corona school closures.