Food waste does more than hurt consumers’ pocketbooks – it tugs at their heart strings, too.
According to a new study from the Shelton Group, 39 percent of Americans feel guilty about wasting food. The percentage of participants who felt remorse for food waste was significantly larger than any other action polled in the survey. Comparatively, 27 percent of participants said they felt guilty for water waste and 21 percent for not recycling.
“All of us could be better at shopping, cooking and using up leftovers,” Suzanne Shelton, founder and CEO of Shelton Group, said in a press release. “Keeping food from going to waste will benefit our wallets as well as the environment. And we’ll all feel a lot less guilty.”
But tackling the issue of food waste is no small feat. This week, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported that Americans waste 40 percent of the country’s annual food supply. The waste is piling up in landfills and further depleting consumers’ wallets.
“As a country, we’re essentially tossing every other piece of food that crosses our path – that’s money and precious resources down the drain,” said Dana Gunders, NRDC project scientist with the food and agriculture program, in a separate press release. “With the price of food continuing to grow and drought jeopardizing farmers nationwide, now is the time to embrace all the tremendous untapped opportunities to get more out of our food system. We can do better.”
The NRDC reported that food waste is the single largest component of solid waste in U.S. landfills. The annual waste equates to up to $2,275 in discarded food by the average American family of four.
The waste can be attributed to food suppliers and consumers alike, but the highest amount of food wasted occurs in restaurants and kitchens, not grocery stores. Reducing the nation’s annual waste by 15 percent would save enough food to feed 25 million Americans annually, according to the NRDC.