Thursday Thought: Why Do Millennials Waste So Much Food?

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 14.20.44


With our desire for Insta-worthy food-snaps, unusual recipes and exotic ingredients millennials are undeniably obsessed with food. Being keen to try new things is making dieting more exciting than ever, but are there consequences to our food consumption behaviours? According to a new study, yes. It appears that millennials are the driving force behind the UK’s growing mass of food waste. Nerve Online explores why. 

With varying attitudes towards food, this generation born early mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s, is adding to the UK’s 7 million tonne food waste pile. Why? We are trying more unusual recipes with exotic ingredients that are harder to reuse.

Our food bills are higher than ever

Essentially, millennials focus more on the appearance and taste of their food and don’t consider the amount of food they end up throwing away.

You are what you eat, or are you?

A study of around 5000 people by Sainsbury’s showed that those aged between 18 and 34

‘live to eat’ rather than ‘eating to live’.

Food isn’t a necessity, it’s more about the pleasure. This results in higher shopping bills and more food being wasted.

The study also exposed that 40% of over 65’s state they never waste food. This is compared to 17% of those under 35. It showed that older consumers are more likely to eat purely for necessity and produce less waste. This is the result of  them being used to post-war rationing.

So, how do we waste so much?

Bad planning is also a reason why 20% of under 35’s are wasting food after doing big food shops. According to Dr Polly Russell, how we value choice and money in relation to food is the real reason for a post-war increase in household food.

Variety is the spice of life

Most people today, particularly younger generations, demand variety when it comes to food. As a result we’ve gained a broader and more exciting diet.

According to Russell,

with an ever-changing menu it is harder to control food waste and it is more challenging to plan ahead.

Increased working hours and busy lifestyles also mean that people these days have less time to think about food. As a result, they are less likely than previous generations to spend the time required to properly manage food supplies and use up leftovers.

Can we improve?

Efforts to combat food waste seem to be decreasing in recent years according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme. 7.3 million tonnes of food was thrown away in 2015 compared to only 7 million tonnes wasted in 2012. But, are we just hindering this progress?

Should we ditch the insta-worthy dishes and follow the “live with what we have” ethos? Do we need to stick to the basics and avoid the exotic? Or, do we just need to be more mindful of how we consume this food? Maybe, it’s just a case of an insta-worthy meal one day, and a not so picturesque bowl of leftovers the next day.

It might just be time to step out of the Instagram limelight and live like the poor students we are.