Manchester is Green: The Challenge

Back to all campaigns

Manchester is Green: The Challenge

To some, it’s the beautiful game, to others it’s the topic that takes up too much pub chat. Love or loathe it, football is the country’s most popular sport and has a unique opportunity to inspire climate action by engaging and mobilising its millions of fans.

Home to Manchester City and Manchester United, some would argue Manchester is blue, and others red. We worked with fans of both clubs to show that Manchester is Green too. Through a three-week challenge, City and United fans were encouraged to waste less food, eat more plant-based meals, cook from scratch, and in doing so save money and hopefully feel a bit healthier too. The full-time results were a bit tasty, with lots of positive changes benefiting both those who took part and the environment too.

In extra time and in need of a late winner

It’s predicted that by 2050, 25% of English Football Stadiums will be at risk of annual flooding (Tifo Football, 2021). Eating less meat and dairy and wasting less food are some of the most effective ways we as individuals can reduce our carbon footprint. The next decade is key in meeting the Government’s targets on health, climate and nature: fruit and vegetable consumption will have to increase by 30% while meat consumption should reduce by 30%. Could football be a secret weapon in driving this change?

Can the beautiful game help create a beautiful world?

Pie-loving footy fans might seem an unlikely group of climate activists. But that’s starting to change: Forest Green Rovers are the world’s first vegan football club and are trailblazing on this to change the game. Imagine if fans of all clubs were inspired to make simple changes to the way they eat?

Informed by past Hubbub sustainable diets trials with  M&S, Tesco and Just Eat, the Manchester is Green challenge leaned on behaviour change techniques to inspire 72 Manchester-based football fans and their households to eat better for their pockets, health and, of course, the planet too.

Time for a tactical substitution

Fans were recruited to reflect the modern football fanbase and demographics of Manchester and they joined closed Facebook groups with other City or United fans. That’s where the three-week challenge took place in May 2022, finishing on the last day of the Premier League season. Each week followed a different theme: Cooking from Scratch, Plant-Powered Eating and More Taste Less Waste. Every week, there were simple tips, 'ask the expert' sessions, cook-alongs and a weekend ‘matchday challenge’ where fans could put their new skills into practice and compete to win prizes.

Here’s what we found: football was a brilliant hook for inspiring fans to make changes in the kitchen! In just three weeks, we were able to flip some of the stereotypes about football and food habits on their head: shifting from burgers, chips and pies to beans, pulses, and sweet potato fries. Now that’s what we call a tactical substitution.

Who ate all the veggie pies? The difference made.

Three months after the challenge, we surveyed those who took part. From 72 responses:

  • 70% told us they were eating less meat
  • 83% were wasting less food
  • 68% were saving money
  • 61% were feeling healthier

In short, fans were eating better for their pockets, health and the planet. Winner winner, veggie dinner.

Encouragingly, 9 in 10 fans who took part also told us that they think football clubs and players should be inspiring fans to take on more planet-friendly behaviours.

What can fans do?

  • Check out our footy-themed tips on cooking from scratch, plant-powered eating and wasting less food and learn how to make tactical substitutions, make the most of big chances (love your leftovers) and more. Cost-saving, healthy and planet-friendly meals lie ahead!
  • Ask your football club to do more on the climate and go green for your team while competing with other fans on Planet League.

What can football clubs and businesses do?

  • Read our full report above to find out our three key takeaways for clubs and businesses who want to be early adopters in promoting sustainable and healthy diets.

Who’s the best footballer in the world, Ronaldo or Messi?

Check out how our world-famous Ballot Bin voting ashtray has been proven to cut cigarette litter by up to 73% through asking questions like this.

Are you a business that wants to collaborate?

Got your own challenge or idea for a project? We love to hear it, let’s talk!