Check out this article about my Household Food Waste Survey paper from the London Free Press on 12 April 2019, by Megan Stacey
It’s the price of a flight to Cuba.
An average Londoner could jump on a plane destined for tropical Varadero with the $600 a typical city household spends annually on food that ends up tossed in the trash, a new study from Western University suggests.
Environmental consultant and Western researcher Paul van der Werf examined London’s trash – literally taking bags from the curb on pickup day and sorting the waste inside – in a study, finding that people throw out fruit, vegetables and bread and baked goods most often.
That analysis helped van der Werf arrive at the $600 figure, which only includes food that could have been eaten, not other waste products like coffee grounds or egg shells.
“Everybody’s got to trundle out to the grocery store at some point. That $10 to $20 that’s being wasted each week gets to people,” he said, adding it may drive home the message better than larger figures that show Canadians waste billions of dollars worth of food each year.
“Suffice it to say, we throw out a lot of food. What I really tried to do as part of my PhD research was to make it a bit local.”
His early research suggested Londoners are throwing out 15 per cent of the food they buy each year. He hopes more relatable numbers will motivate people to make a change.
The numbers may be somewhat painful for Londoners to digest on the same day the London Food Bank launches its spring food drive. More than 100,000 went to the agency for help feeding themselves or their families in 2018.
Van der Werf’s project also included a survey of 1,300 households, where Londoners who responded admitted their families throw out nearly six portions of food each week.
The previous city council voted in favour of implementing a green bin program to help Londoners compost their food waste, but it’s not expected to start until 2021.
Van der Werf says respondents usually said it was a result of buying or making too much – food that went bad before it could make it onto a plate.
And that’s no surprise to van der Werf, who described the shopping habits of Londoners – and Canadians – as a “biological race” to eat up groceries ahead of spoiling.
“We want to be healthy. (We think) ‘if I buy all that stuff, ergo I will eat it.’ I intend to eat fruit and vegetables every day, but I really don’t like them all that much,” he said.