Haley Everitt Successfully Defends her PhD Thesis

The HEAL would like to congratulate Haley Everitt who successfully defended their PhD thesis under the supervision of Dr. Jason Gilliland in July 2023.

Household Food Waste Survey

Haley Everitt successfully defended her PhD thesis titled A Direct Measurement Approach to Understanding Influences to Household Food Wasting. Haley completed her Doctor of Philosophy in Geography and Environment under the supervision of Dr. Jason Gilliland. During her studies, Haley examined how pandemic circumstances; a knowledge-based, food waste reduction intervention; and pro-environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours influenced the quantity and composition of household food waste generation.

A key component of this research was to follow a direct food waste measurement methodology, where curbside waste samples from households in London, Ontario, Canada were collected, weighed, and sorted to determine the quantity and composition of wasted food. Additionally, this research used a survey to measure knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours related to household food wasting.

During COVID-19, households sent 2.81 kg of food waste to landfill per week, of which 52% was classified as avoidable food waste and 48% as unavoidable food waste. The generation of unavoidable food waste increased by 65% during the pandemic. These findings can be leveraged to influence policy aimed at developing sustainable solutions for waste management.

To address the need for policies and programs that reduce household food waste, the long-term effectiveness of a household food waste reduction intervention was evaluated. Results indicate that the intervention has led to a long-term, sustained 30% reduction in avoidable food waste sent to landfill, demonstrating the potential for the intervention to continue to have a meaningful impact. As one of the only studies to measure the long-term effectiveness of a household food waste reduction intervention, this research fills a gap in our current understanding of intervention efficacy.

Knowledge of how pro-environmentalism influences household food wasting contributes to strengthening our understanding of the complex, intersecting factors that result in wasted food. Households in a net-zero energy neighbourhood sent less total and unavoidable food waste to landfill than households in ‘regular’ neighbourhoods. While net-zero energy neighbourhood participants had strong, self-reported pro-environmental worldviews, pro-environmentalism was not found to be stronger in this neighbourhood than others in the city.

Overall, this research contributes to our understanding of household food waste generation and the development of household food waste reduction strategies.

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