Modern Life is Rubbish
A new report by Sainsbury’s, studying the food waste patterns of 5,000 people, has identified the four ‘bin-fluences’ contributing to Britain’s food waste cycle. This report identifies the behaviours that lead to UK households wasting seven million tonnes of food each year.
- Brits make a conscious effort to save money with 74% turning off lights – but we’re still in the dark about the real cost of food waste
- Despite the increased prominence of food waste as an issue, only 3% feel there’s a stigma attached to binning food
- Findings emerge as Sainsbury’s prepares to hand out one million free fridge thermometers in a bid to help the nation Waste less, Save more
Of this 7m tonnes of waste, 4.2 million tonnes are completely avoidable, meaning households could save money while saving the environment. But while food waste has a direct impact on household expenditure, the report finds that people want to change their habits, but fail to see the value of saving food compared to other money-saving habits that have become the norm.
Three quarters (74%) of us now actively turn lights off when we leave a room to save money and over half (55%) admit to turning down the heating. A third (32%) have even changed energy suppliers to keep the household bills down. Collectively though, these changes would save £305 a year, less than half of the £700 spent on wasted food by a typical family each year.
The report also reveals that, despite the growing profile of the issue, only 3% of people feel there is a social stigma attached to wasting food.
Reflecting on Sainsbury’s biggest ever report into household food waste, Sainsbury’s CEO, Mike Coupe, comments: “We know our customers are concerned about food waste in their own homes, which is why we’ve committed £10 million to help tackle the issue as part of our Waste less, Save more programme. Wasting food has become so normal there is now no stigma attached to throwing food away. This report identifies the four behaviours that drive household food waste and, now we know these, we can focus our efforts on helping people actually change their behaviour.
“The report also shows that people are cost-conscious and making concerted efforts to turn off lights and minimise energy use. However, people are still overlooking the much bigger savings that could be delivered by simply throwing away less food, and hopefully our campaign will help people waste less food and save more money.”
The four behaviours identified in the report that drive household waste are:
BIN-FLUENCE 1: AWARENESS
The report finds that people are not aware of the potential savings they would make with simple behaviour changes such as meal-planning or writing a shopping list. 70% of us don’t believe that list-writing could save us money, and yet those who do write a list spend £145 less on food annually.
In addition, the majority of Britain’s shoppers believe that only 10% of their monthly food budget will be spent on avoidable food waste, which equates to £400 per year. However, in reality this figure is £700 for the average family.
BIN-FLUENCE 2: BEHAVIOUR
When it comes to food waste in the UK, people think they know what they’re doing. However, the report found a disconnect between the knowledge people claim to have and their actual behaviour.
95% of people claimed to be confident in freezing food, while 74% believe they are confident cooking meals from leftovers. And yet, nearly two fifths (37%) of people admit to not using their leftovers, despite those who do saving £260 per year.
Meanwhile, other money-saving habits have become the norm, with 74% of people turning the lights off when they leave a room, promising a potential saving of just £15 per year. A third of us have even changed energy supplier, saving an average of £200 a year, which is three and half times less than the annual cost of a family binning food.
BIN-FLUENCE 3: ROLE MODELS
Despite the prevalence of food bloggers, chefs and foodie social media stars, when it comes to food waste we are lacking high-profile role models. Four in ten (40%) people admitted they do not know who to look to for guidance on how to reduce their food waste.
What’s more, this figure grows steadily as it moves to younger generations; while only 12% of over 65s wish they knew more about managing and cooking food, nearly half (47%) of those aged 18-24 admit a lack of knowledge in the kitchen, demonstrating a need to inspire younger people when it comes to reducing food waste.
BIN-FLUENCE 4: SOCIETY
Over the years, food has become more accessible, and more experimental. This cultural shift is much more prominent in those under 35, with more than half (55%) of Millennials identified as ‘living-to-eat’ rather than ‘eating-to-live’. This falls to a third (33%) amongst those over 35.
But desire to explore the latest foodie trends is also contributing to food waste. 86% of us admit to buying ingredients for one specific recipe, knowing they will struggle to use it elsewhere.
Sainsbury’s CEO, Mike Coupe, continues: “In January this year, we launched Waste less, Save more with a year-long trial to uncover the best ways of helping communities cut food waste. While we’re still only half way through this, we’re delighted with the progress so far and have already learnt some important lessons. So this weekend we’ll be giving away one million free fridge thermometers to help our customers keep their food fresher for longer, cutting waste and saving money. This is the first of what I hope will be a number of practical solutions we’ll be delivering, working closely customers and their communities, to help them make the most of their shop and ultimately save money.”
Richard Swannell, Director at WRAP, comments: “It’s great that people are switching off lights, I hope these new insights from Sainsbury’s helps switch more people on to the issue of reducing food waste. Wasting food costs £700 a year for the average family, that’s money that could be spent on everyday essentials. Both Sainsbury’s and WRAP, through its Love Food Hate Waste campaign, want to change the current status quo and help people see the benefits in shopping smarter, and making the most of their food”.
The report on household food waste comes as Sainsbury’s prepares to roll out learnings fromWaste less, Save more, an ambitious £10 million initiative designed to help tackle food waste in the home. After a nationwide search, the market town of Swadlincote in South Derbyshire was selected as a trial town, where Sainsbury’s pledged a £1 million investment to test a range of pioneering initiatives in a bid to cut the town’s food waste by 50%.
From Wednesday 7th September, Sainsbury’s will also launch its first ever Waste less, Save more advertising campaign, designed to help homes across the country save and store food more efficiently. As part of the campaign, one million fridge thermometers will be given out to ensure family’s fridges are at the right temperate to prolong the life of fresh food.