Americans don’t set out to waste food.
People don’t buy an apple because they plan to throw it away. Instagram isn’t filled with posts bragging about tossed leftovers. There isn’t a pro-food-waste lobby in Washington.
So why do we waste more than a third of our food a year?
A handful of scholars wanted to find the answer. They conducted studies and found, in essence, that Americans waste food because we don’t know another way, and because we can.
The first study to look at U.S. consumers' attitudes about food waste came out of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future in June 2015. One revelation was that having a leaky faucet or leaving lights on bothered people more than throwing away food did. But the gas created by food decay in landfills is a major environmental threat.
The second study, out of Ohio State University in 2016, found that a majority of Americans think food waste is a problem, but find it difficult to reduce their own waste. Indeed, a quarter of respondents said they’re too busy to change.
It’s not all bad, though. There’s hope for us yet.
Americans are “concerned about wasted food, and are interested in taking further action,” the Johns Hopkins study said.