We have become more conscious of waste in recent years. We're better at recycling, and conserving energy, and selling on old technology when we upgrade rather than chucking it out. But there's one area where we're lagging massively behind: we're useless at cutting food waste.
When asked why they waste food, people cannot give a good reason for it. They feel highly confident that they know what they are doing in the supermarket and the kitchen, and say they have all the skills they need, and yet they are chucking out hundreds of pounds worth of food every year.
Whatever reason you think you're wasting food. There are actually five real reasons why you're throwing good money away.
1. Because planning is for nerds
Making a shopping list is the kind of tragic thing that couples with matching anoraks and no social life get up to. A study by Sainsbury's found that 70% of people don't think it would save them money anyway - because they already know what to buy. However, those who do write a list save £145 a year on food. You don't have to tell anyone you make a list - just do it.
2. Because you wouldn't catch Kim Kardashian making a meal of leftovers
The Sainsbury's study found that we have very few high profile role models when it comes to food waste. Instead our role models are the kinds of people who would throw meals out because they have inexplicably taken against them. But the role models are there if you look hard enough. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has written an entire cook book on the subject of leftovers, and Jack Monroe (pictured) has made cooking on a bootstrap from a necessity into a career.
Nobody is suggesting that your meal plan, and shopping list become the destroyers of your social life. Sometimes you will go out instead. The point is to make a plan for the food you're not eating - rather than just let it fester in the fridge. This should be a no-brainer, because 95% of people say they're confident about freezing food, so make sure that when you get home after a spontaneous night out and a late-night kebab, you pop the chicken in the freezer for next week.
4. Because we don't see the waste
Food is spoiled when we bin it, so we no longer assign a value to it. It means we don't realise that we're throwing money away. In fact, the average family throws away £700 worth of food.
5. Because we don't care
The Sainsbury's study showed that when we have messages drummed into us, we eventually give in. Three quarters (74%) of us now actively turn lights off when we leave a room to save money and over half (55%) admit to turning down the heating. A third (32%) have even changed energy suppliers to keep the household bills down. The energy efficiency badgering is finally bearing fruit.
Collectively though, these changes would save £305 a year, less than half of the £700 spent on wasted food by a typical family each year, so it pays to be ahead of the curve, to make yourself aware of food waste, become a secret list-maker and freezer user, follow Jack Monroe on Instagram, and save a small fortune.
It's hard to know whether a campaign by a supermarket is going to make the difference, but Sainsbury's is giving it a go. This study is part of a year-long push to get people to waste less food, and as part of that campaign this weekend it will be giving away one million free fridge thermometers to help people keep their food fresher for longer, cutting waste and saving money.