Certified B Corporation Badge


Have your cake and eat it

5 November, 2021

Have you ever bought food with the aim of throwing it away? Unlikely. But every year, a third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted – and 60% of this happens in homes.  

So what if there was an easy fix: one that could cut household food waste without requiring any more time or energy? 

One of our favourite talks at this week’s Centre for Behaviour Change Conference showed how we can do just that. It shared the findings of a Randomised Controlled Trial run by Hellmann’s and BEworks with 1,000 Canadian families. The intervention group had to assign one ‘Use-Up Day’ per week, when their meal would be made from ingredients that they’d otherwise throw away, and given a ‘heuristic’ (a simple rule of thumb) for creating meals from whatever was to hand. Rather than spending hours searching for appropriate recipes, participants were invited to use the ‘3+1 Approach’: bring together a base carbohydrate, vegetable or fruit and a protein, plus a ‘magic touch’ such as spices or condiments to add flavour. They were also provided with a book of ‘Flexipes’ – flexible recipes – which applied the 3+1 Approach to commonly wasted ingredients such as bread and potatoes. 

The results speak for themselves: participants reduced their food waste by a third, and over 70% saved money on their household food budget. But as more businesses seek to help consumers switch to sustainable behaviours, it’s also exciting to see brands taking time to test what actually works in a more rigorous way rather than assuming their campaigns will succeed. The result is a double win: an effective marketing campaign and a contribution to the broader behaviour change research pool. And there’s nothing wasteful about that. 

By Sarah Howden

You might also like