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    Consumer Education Campaigns

    Diversion Potential:
    584K Tons

    Economic Value Per Ton:

    GHGs Reduced:
    2336K Tons

    Water Saved:
    281B Gallons


    Conducting large-scale advocacy campaigns to raise awareness and educate consumers about ways to save money and prevent wasted food.


    According to the FAO, North American consumers lead the world in per-capita food waste. From making better use of leftovers to learning how to minimize spoilage by properly storing refrigerated and perishable foods, consumers have a direct hand in reducing waste in and outside the home. Increased awareness may also inspire consumers to demand that businesses operate more responsibly.


    • Households throw away food for any number of reasons, including poor planning, inability to consume food in a timely manner, and a lack of awareness.
    • Overcoming apathy or indifference is the most significant hurdle. Surveys show that while consumers understand the importance of food waste reduction, they don’t recognize their own role in solving the problem.
    • Consumer behavior change for any issue requires a long time horizon, which can inhibit investment and the ability to track impact.

    Stakeholder Actions

    • Private and public stakeholders, supported by foundations, can collectively invest in consumer education efforts that increase awareness, offer tips for extending food shelf life and storing perishables properly, and promote a culture of active waste avoidance. Messaging should appeal to a wide variety of values, including reducing food bills.
    • Nonprofits and local governments can extend the reach of a national advertising campaign to additional consumer segments. They can develop regionally relevant recipes and suggestions for re-purposing leftovers, as well as simple toolkits for consumers to add up the costs of throwing out food.
    • Businesses can inform customers at the point-of-selection about ways to save money by wasting less. Retailer in-store media campaigns can provide information about products and packaging that have waste prevention attributes. Foodservice providers and restaurants may display waste-related signage and messaging to customers. Consumer waste education is a branding opportunity for businesses to demonstrate their commitment to resource conservation.
    • Campaigns can partner with nonprofits to track impact metrics to inform further targeted messaging. While studies have been conducted in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to measure the impact of consumer education, there has been minimal tracking in the U.S. to ensure that campaigns are effective.

    Examples & Resources

    • Walmart

      In 2015, Walmart ran a video campaign in checkout lanes across the country explaining ways shoppers could save money by reducing food waste at home.

    • NRDC/Ad Council Campaign

      In 2016, the NRDC, in partnership with the Ad Council, launched Save the Food a major three-year public service campaign targeted at “moms and millennials” to communicate the benefits of food waste reduction, including the cost savings opportunities. The media campaign can be expanded to other consumer segments, deepened in priority regions, and extended beyond three years.

    • Love Food Hate Waste

      In the U.K., the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) launched Love Food Hate Waste, a national consumer awareness campaign that included print and web materials. It successfully reduced consumer food waste by 21% in five years.

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