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Waste less food

Most Americans believe they practice wasting less food. However, evidence suggests we’re fooling ourselves, with the average household wasting 32% of its food. This behavior is a repeated behavior, meaning cutting food waste requires ongoing decision-making.

What’s Going On

77% of the population says they are trying to reduce food waste. And over 85% of the Climate Alarmed say they are trying to reduce food waste.

85% of American adults (and over 95% of the Alarmed) said that people should reduce food waste because it is the right thing to do. This finding tells us that people strongly perceive reducing food waste as normatively correct behavior. In fact, it is the most moralized behavior among the behaviors studied.


Americans underestimate the intentions and actions of those around them when it comes to wasting food (77% are trying to waste less but only believe 44% of others are too). This suggests a missed opportunity to see or hear others talking about how they’re avoiding food waste.

Because the intention to act is already so high, for this behavior, peer influence could play a large role in showcasing strategies and tactics for individuals to follow through with that intention, versus simply driving more interest.

In addition, people’s interest in taking part in a program is higher than average for all behaviors, except for purchasing an EV.

The Impacts

If 10% of households reduce their food waste by 20%, 13 million MtCO2e would be avoided annually. This translates to an avoided cost to society of between $0.6 to $5.3 billion per year.

For more information related to the Climate Culture Index research or findings, contact Brandon Schauer at bschauer@rare.org.