04/21/2013 04:18 pm ET Updated Jun 21, 2013

Saving the Environment With Food Tubes?

By Caitlynn Stone and Maria Pia Apestegui, High School Students at Laurel Springs School

As the world becomes globalized, we begin to share more than just media and information -- we also begin to share food. Long gone are the days where meals were determined by what was grown locally. In modern days, we can eat anything that we want, whenever we want. The versatility is certainly an advantage to everyone; however, it comes with a price, one that many people don't think about when buying imported or non-local foods. Many people don't realize it, but the transportation of food negatively affects the environment.

This weekend, we are representing Laurel Springs High School at the EF Global Student Leaders Summit in Costa Rica along with fellow classmates. In preparation for the summit, we took part in the Glocal Challenge, an assignment for student leaders to identify a local issue and offer plausible implementable solutions by researching the issue globally. Interestingly, we go to an online school, so it was challenging to find an issue that is experienced worldwide, a problem which affects not only a select few areas, but most of the world. However, we learned that food transportation is something that affects us all locally and globally, no matter where we live.

As we continued our research, we learned that the farther away the source of the food is the more it has to travel either through truck, ship, or plane -- all methods of transportation run by fossil fuels and highly damaging to the environment. The globalization of food is not a mistake, rather, an achievement. Never before have we had so many options on what to eat. Now that we have tasted this diversity, it is understandable that we wouldn't want to or feel reluctant to give it up, even if it for the sake of the environment.

The truth is, however, that we don't have to give up the globalization of food in order to protect the environment. The distance traveled by the food isn't the problem; it is how the food travels these distances. That is to say, in order to maintain the global food market, we simply need to find a more eco-friendly method of transporting our food. Is there such a method? An eco-friendly way that food could travel across land and sea from farm to consumer? Actually, there is!

A similar circumstance came about before for water, gas, and sewage transport. Years ago, these were transported mainly through trucks and other fossil fuel using transport. In more recent times, however, these have been transported mainly through underground pipes, which are cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

Inspired by this solution, we created an idea we're calling Food Tubes. Food Tubes would come to be an underground pipe network which would transport our food through electrically propelled food capsules from farms to processing companies to supermarkets. It would be able to transport food via pipelines across land and sea in a cheap and eco-friendly manner. Unlike other methods of transportation, its delivery would not depend on weather conditions since everything occurs underground. With this system, it would be possible to remove a large quantity of trucks, ships, and cargo planes from use and would greatly reduce our transport-related greenhouse gas emissions.

However, Food Tubes is not a type of solution which can be implemented easily. It requires great initial investment. While this initial investment pays off in the long run, its initial cost hampers its implementation. In order to meet the necessary costs and needs for Food Tubes, we would need monetary support from a large company or the government. This is not an easy task, and to reach out to these large groups requires a huge amount of public support.

One of the challenges we are tackling at the summit is related to food. We look forward to continuing this conversation and sharing our newly gained knowledge about how we can all work to improve our environment.

All of us traveling to Costa Rica are excited to experience a new culture and share our ideas with students from around the world through EF's Summit! Follow us on Twitter at #EFSummit or on Facebook at

About the Global Student Leaders Summit Series
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and EF Education First, in recognition of the 2013 EF Global Student Leaders Summit in Costa Rica (April 20 and 21). Each year, the EF Global Student Leaders Summit brings together hundreds of high school students and teachers from around the world for experiential learning tours and a leadership and innovation conference to help the next generation of leaders understand and solve critical global issues. For more information on EF Education First, click here.