Thrifty Baby Boomers waste less food, with Gen Z worst offenders

Baby Boomers are a cautious lot when it comes to food wastage. Source: Getty

Baby Boomers are a cautious lot when it comes to food wastage. In fact, Aussie seniors throw away the least amount of food, with Millennials (1980-1994) and Gen Z (1995-2010) the worst offenders, a new study has found.

The study, conducted by Sustainability Victoria, found that Gen Z are incredibly careless with their grocery shopping and throw away about $115 worth of food weekly, compared to Baby Boomers who reported just over a tenth of that at $17 per week.

Kellie Watson, Campaign Manager at Sustainability Victoria, said the Baby Boomer generation were more aware of food wastage because of their greater food knowledge.

“The older generation have a great chance to be role models,” she told Starts at 60. “To show younger people what to do with food and pass on that food knowledge.”

Having grown up in a post-war environment where food was precious, Boomers are all too aware of the realities of not having an endless supply of tasty meals on offer. This waste not, want not mentality has carried through into their adult years and more than half of Boomers actively try to reduce food waste in their home, compared to 35 per cent of Millennials and 26 per cent of Gen Zs, according to the study.

The survey of 1,000 Victorians also found that collectively, families are wasting an estimated $5.4 billion worth of food a year, and almost half are not aware. Watson added that 92 per cent of respondents felt some level of guilt throwing away food.

The findings form part of a new campaign, Love Food Hate Waste, Love a List, and feature in new a documentary that encourages Australians to reduce their food waste.

In the doco series, three families from Victoria took on a four week challenge to do just that — plan meals, shop to a list and eat what you’ve got.

Rachel Krivanek, whose family participated in the documentary told Starts at 60: “It was really eye opening for all of us. We’re wasting a lot of food and it’s not just the children, it’s my husband and I as well.”

The most common foods thrown away are bread, fresh fruit and vegetables and dairy, Watson says. “We found that up to a quarter of the waste in our bins is actually made up of food that we’ve thrown away.”

So what can you do to waste less food? The best way to reduce food waste is to not create it in the first place, Watson says. She recommends planning meals and shopping to a list to reduce the amount of food waste and money you throw away. 

Are you careful not to waste food? Do you use leftovers to create new meals? 

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