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People waste more food than they think: how to change your habits to waste less?

Posted February 12, 2017

Naturally we tend to think quite highly of ourselves. We think we are caring, smart and rational people, but it does not take much to destroy such image. Scientists from the University of Alberta conducted a study, revealing that people waste much more food than they think they do.

People are wasting food all the time. Not only it is a waste of money, it is also damaging economy and the environment. Image credit: OpenIDUser2 via, GFDL

Researchers took a closer look how some people manage their food resources. They found that on average each participant produced around 5 kg of food waste every week. Interestingly, people themselves thought they are wasting much less, although some of them threw away as much as 19 kg of food every week. This is a large problem, because many people are struggling to get any food on the table. Furthermore, food waste is bad for both economy and nature. Population in big cities is dramatically increasing and feeding all these people is a huge challenge. On one hand, producing more food is a solution, but on the other consumption and management of it must be optimized as well.

At first scientists walked from door to door in a city of Edmonton, which has big goals of dramatically reducing poverty and food waste. Some of the people questioned agreed to participate more in the study and then their food consumption habits were observed more closely. Scientists asked people to feel free to stick to their daily habits. It is very difficult, because when people are participating in a research like this they want to look better than they really are and become more conscious about their actions. This should mean that people would throw away less food, but in actual fact they threw away more than they previously estimated.

Scientists say that the difference emerges because people throw away little portions of food at a time, so for them it does not look like a lot of waste. Of course, not all the waste is avoidable: some is unavoidable, some can be avoided if one has the skills, and some is totally avoidable. And there are also food packages that take away some food as well. A lot of food is wasted because people prepared too much of it at once and could not eat all of it. People did not learn from these mistakes either. However, the most shocking amount of food waste comes from food still in its packaging – it account for around 27 % of all food-related waste.

We may think we are living ecologically, but people should open their eyes to their own waste. Scientists advice people to buy less food at once, make shopping lists and freeze leftovers. Buying food with less packaging helps too.


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