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You Probably Have No Idea How Much Food You Waste Each Month

A new study from market research firm YouGov has found that Brits are spending twice as much on wasted food each month as they think they are.
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB

Of all the food produced in the world—all those crisps, bananas, egg mayonnaise sandwiches, and the peanut butter-flavoured Oreos you like so much—as much as half of it is thrown away. This adds up to more than 2 billion tonnes of food wasted across the world each year.

While stunts like shaming wasteful buffet-goers with photos of starving children or that time a United Nations summit served 30 world leaders a lunch made from food scraps should really be enough to jolt us out of our soggy salad bag-chucking ways, they aren't.


READ MORE: How Beer Made From Leftover Bread Could Help End Global Food Waste

A new study from British market research firm YouGov suggests that most Brits are blissfully unaware of exactly how much food they waste each month.

Commissioned by supermarket Sainsbury's, the research found that British families are spending twice as much on wasted food each month as they think they are.

Eighty-one percent of the families of four questioned believed that they threw away less than £30 worth of food per month. In reality, the average amount wasted each month was £58.30. At the same time, 93 percent thought that they wasted less than five meals a month, when the amount of thrown-out food actually made the equivalent of 11 meals per month.

It seems all that wilting lettuce and lumpy milk can really add up.

READ MORE: The UK's First Zero-Waste Restaurant Puts Trash First

While supermarkets have been criticised for discarding "ugly" vegetables and binning edible food for not meeting needlessly strict sell-by dates, of the estimated 15 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year, more than half is thrown away in people's homes. The trend for "zero-waste" restaurants and the recently opened London brewery making beer from leftover bread may show the potential for food that would otherwise end up in landfill, but we still have a long way to go.

In a statement, Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe said: "Food waste is one of society's biggest environmental issues at the moment and there is a genuine passion across the UK to tackle it."

At least now we know the size of what we're tackling.