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Americans Guilty About Food Waste: Survey

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When it comes to their efforts to help the environment, Americans feel the most guilt about wasting food, according to a new survey.

The survey, called Eco Pulse, found that 39% of Americans feel guilty about “wasting food.” In comparison, only 7% felt guilty about “not sticking to an energy-efficient thermostat setting,” and just 6% felt guilty about “using chemical lawn or plant fertilizers.”  The survey was conducted by the Shelton Group here.   

“This is an issue that gets right to the core of who we are as Americans. We were all taught to waste not, want not, and trained that wasting food equals being a bad person,” said Suzanne Shelton, founder and chief executive officer of the Shelton Group, in a statement. “Yet the average household throws out 470 pounds of food every year, making it the largest component in our nation’s landfills. So I’m afraid we have plenty to feel guilty about.”

Read more: Shaw's Cuts Landfill Waste 90%

Food waste in America has grown 50% since 1974, and accounts for more than one-quarter of the total freshwater used and roughly 300 million barrels of oil a year, according to a government study. In fact, Americans waste about 27% of food available for consumption, costing the average family of four roughly $600 a year.

“We all have the best of intentions,” Shelton said. “We fill our grocery baskets with healthy meats, fruits and fresh vegetables, with big plans for a week’s worth of home-cooked meals. Then, we get swamped at work or have to get our kids to various activities, and we find ourselves picking up a pizza on the way home. By the end of the week, we’re throwing out the spoiled food from our refrigerators.

“That doesn’t mean we should go back to buying unhealthy frozen dinners and telling our kids to keep eating until their plates are clean,” Shelton added. “We just need to be more careful about buying what we need, and using what we buy.”

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