Food for Naught: Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour to Better Understand Household Food Wasting Behaviour

Authors: Paul van der Werf*, Western University, Jamie Seabrook, Brescia University College at Western University, Jason Gilliland, Western University
Topics: Behavioral Geography
Keywords: Household food waste, Theory of Planned Behavior, Household survey
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Astor Ballroom II, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

It is estimated that households in London, Ontario, Canada dispose 125 kg of avoidable food waste annually. A household survey, using the Theory of Planned Behavior, as its basis, was used to better understand this behavior and inform future intervention development. Respondents (n=1,263) threw out avoidable food 4.8 times/week (SD=4.8, Mdn=4.0) and 5.9 food portions/week (SD=5.7, Mdn=4.0). When asked to choose one of three possible motivators to reduce food wasting behavior, 58.9% selected reducing monetary loss as their first choice, versus 23.9% reducing environmental impact and 17.2% reducing social impacts. Perceived behavioral control (rs=0.57, p=0.01) and personal norms (rs=0.54, p=0.01) were strongly correlated with intention to avoid food waste. A linear hierarchical regression analysis (R2=0.30, p<0.001) on intention to avoid food waste further demonstrated that perceived behavioral control (p<0.001) and personal norms (p<0.001) had the greatest positive impact on intention. The intention to avoid food waste (rs=-0.51, p=0.01) and perceived behavioral control (rs=-0.57, p=0.01) were strongly negatively correlated with self-reported food wasting behavior. A linear hierarchical regression analysis (R2=0.32, p<0.001) on self-reported food behavior showed that perceived behavioral control (p<0.001) and personal attitudes (p<0.01) resulted in less food wasting behavior, while more children in a household (p<0.01) resulted in more food wasting behavior. Interventions that seek to strengthen perceived behavioral control and convey the monetary impact of food waste could help reduce its disposal.

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