How Instagramming Your Dinner Causes Food Waste

New research from supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has found that Millennials will make unusual recipes for social media kudos—but won’t reuse the leftovers.
February 10, 2017, 2:43pm
Photo via Flickr user Jonathan Lin

Don't pretend you've never suffered a lukewarm meal for the sake of a good Instagram pic. Taking the time to get that overhead angle just right and find the perfect filter might be the most hanger-inducing thing ever, but totally worth it when the likes start rolling in.

While you might think that cold ramen and slightly soggy pizza are the only victims of your food porn art, new research suggests that your low-key social media addiction could be contributing to the global food waste problem.


READ MORE: Brits Spend More Time Looking at Food on Instagram Than Cooking

According to a new study carried out by supermarket chain Sainsbury's on the food-buying habits of 5,050 people aged 18 and over, 58 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds (a.k.a. those Millennial snowflakes) said that they tried out unusual recipes with ingredients they knew would be hard to reuse. Just 32 percent of over-55s admitted to this kind of wasteful kitchen management.

Alright, so that leftover turmeric root might have gone mouldy before you could figure out what to do with it—but at least your #goldenlatte pic got 21 likes!

The generation gap doesn't end at binning leftovers. Sainsbury's also found that younger generations spend more on food than their parents, but are then more likely to waste it. Millennials were found to spend an average of £74 per week on food and chuck 12 percent of it, compared to those aged 55 and over, who spend £67 and waste 10 percent.

It might not seem like a big difference in numbers, but the value of the food that could have been used soon stacks up. Sainsbury's calculated that Millennials throw away £461.76 worth of perfectly good food every year, while the over-55s chuck just £113.36 worth of leftovers.

Obviously why none of us can buy a house, right?

Sainsbury's' ominous findings seem to reflect what we already know: Britain's food waste problem isn't going anywhere. Just last month, waste research company WRAP revealed that the amount British households waste is increasing year on year.

READ MORE: Is Britain's Food Waste Problem Actually Getting Worse?

Commenting on the results of the Sainsbury's survey in a press statement, food historian Dr Polly Russell said: "A postwar increase in household food waste is due to changes in how we value choice, time and money in relation to food … People these days are less likely than previous generations to spend the time required to properly manage food supplies and use up leftovers, to minimise waste."

Come on Millennials, food waste is so 2016.