Did your family belong to the Clean Plate Club grow up? “No waste, don’t want to” may be a message that’s ingrained in some people, even when it comes to food. Even so, Americans can still throw more than half of us to eat.
However, new research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign may offer its own solution. The school is looking to cut down on waste in cafeterias – nearly 15,000 lbs per week.
“There’s a lot of energy, water and labor going into the process of refrigeration, preparation, transportation and serving this food that’s also wasted,” said University administrator Thurman Etchison. If that’s not enough, then wasted energy, labor, and water are also used to dispose of that food.
The fix is simple: The cafeteria has changed the shape of the student’s plate. While using slightly smaller oval plates instead of round ones, students took about 25% less food — and they didn’t come back a few seconds more than usual.
Non-waste advocates will be wary of buying new things to avoid their own consumption habits. However, sometimes changing your own habits comes from fooling your brain as much as commitment or willpower. (We can even make our food tastier with some of these small free changes.) Even if you don’t want to buy a new disc, you should consider how something as simple as the table presentation can affect how much you roll out.