Why Most of Us Just Don’t Care About Food Waste

A report from British supermarket Sainsbury’s says that only three percent of people say there’s “a stigma attached to binning food” and two-fifths don’t bother using up leftovers.

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Sep 6 2016, 4:16pm

We're forever being reminded about the amount of perfectly edible food thrown away each year (7 billion tonnes from UK households alone, in case you didn't hear.) Whether it's Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall banging on about "ugly" veg or food innovators attempting to turn stale bread into ale, food waste is a problem that can't be ignored.

Despite the press attention that surrounds the issue, a new survey from British supermarket Sainsbury's suggests that most of us simply don't care about throwing out usable food, nor the financial costs associated with it.

Carried out last month, the survey asked 5,050 people from across the UK about their food waste habits and found that just 3 percent "feel there is a social stigma attached to wasting food."

READ MORE: You Probably Have No Idea How Much Food You Waste Each Month

And the reason we're carelessly chucking all that slightly-squishy-but-perfectly-edible fruit? Mainly ignorance.

The Sainsbury's report found that on average, British shoppers "believe that only 10 percent of their monthly food budget will be spent on avoidable food waste, which equates to £400 per year." However, using data from food waste charity Love Food Hate Waste, it concluded that the average family could in fact save £700 if they were more careful about throwing out food.

This echoes the findings of a report released earlier this year, which showed that many of us are blissfully unaware of exactly how much food we waste.

The Sainsbury's report also found that 37 percent of people admitted to not using leftovers. What's worse, 86 percent said that they buy ingredients for a specific recipe, knowing that they will struggle to use surplus ingredients.

It's not just money that Brits are losing with their food-chucking habits. Richard Swannell, director of waste research company WRAP, told MUNCHIES said that the report also highlights the amount of time and resources needlessly wasted.

READ MORE: How Tinder Food Apps and Dumpster-Diving Restaurants Could Help End British Food Waste

He said: "Consider a single burger. Producing it will require 2,350 litres of water—that's the equivalent to around ten average bathtubs full to the brim, and the carbon footprint would be equivalent to driving 25 miles in an average car. Food is just too good to waste, so we need more people to start valuing it."

Think about that before chucking out those barbecue leftovers.