Survey reveals many people felt guilty of throwing out food, but believe its hard to stop.
Food waste is a big problem in the United States. New research suggests that Americans just can’t stop throwing out edible food. Although many people feel bad about wasting food, they still believe the problem is hard to overcome.
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Recently, a large scale consumer survey was conducted to assess the overall attitude of American’s regarding food waste and what they think about tossing tons of food into the garbage every day.
American consumers waste about 80 billion pounds of food a year. More than half of the respondents admitted that food waste is a problem and is worthy of consideration. This ratio is about 10 percent higher than a previous study which indicates that awareness has increased among American consumers but the attitude remains the same.
“But it’s still amazingly low. If we can increase awareness of the problem, consumers are more likely to increase purposeful action to reduce food waste. You don’t change your behavior if you don’t realize there’s a problem in the first place.” Co-author Brian Roe from Ohio State University said.
The survey further reveals how people think about food waste and what shapes their attitude in this regard. Around 70 percent of respondents believe that throwing away food after it passes its package date is beneficial as it reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses or food poisoning. 77 percent respondents said they felt guilty about throwing away food. 58 percent realize that throwing away food is harmful for environment and biodiversity. 51 percent believe food waste is difficult to stop. At the same time, 42 percent said they do not have much time to ponder on this issue.
53 percent admit they waste when they buy in bulk or during sales while 87 percent think they waste less food than others.
“Generally, we found that people consider three things regarding food waste,” said co-author Danyi Qi. “They perceive there are practical benefits, such as reduced risk of foodborne illness, but at the same they feel guilty about wasting food. They also know that their behaviors and how they manage their household influences how much food they waste.”
Researchers believe people are basically unwilling to understand how serious the issue is. How wasted food has a negative impact that felt across the environment. Then, they are generally not willing to change their behaviors and help improve environment.
“Basically, right now everybody thinks they are doing as good as or better than everybody else. It’s somebody else that’s creating food waste.” Roe said.
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Next, researchers are planning to develop a smart phone app to better measure food waste and to find ways to combat the problem.