Domestic Spaces and Beyond: Consumer food waste in the context of shopping and storing routines

Karin Dobernig, Karin Schanes

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


To significantly reduce the volumes of food currently wasted in industrialized countries, tackling food waste on the household level is paramount. While awareness campaigns and economic incentives are important measures, it is crucial to look beyond individual decision making and scrutinize how contextual factors frame consumer lifestyles in ways that intensify the issue of food going to waste. This paper addresses the role of material contexts—in particular, infrastructures and technologies—in the shaping of food shopping and storing practices and thus consumer food waste. It presents an in‐depth, qualitative study with 24 Austrian households, conducted from November 2016 to February 2017. Data were collected through food waste diaries, semi‐structured interviews and a total of 16 focus group discussions. In line with other studies, we find that food waste is a largely unintended outcome of entangled daily routines revolving around food, such as meal planning, grocery shopping and food storing. The characteristics of food retail infrastructures—in terms of accessibility, density and type—shape these routines and thus potentially influence excess food purchases. Food storing practices as well depend on the characteristics of domestic infrastructures and co‐evolve with technologies used for storing food. Unraveling the interconnectivity between material contexts and household food practices can inform policy, product design and food retail development and thus has implications for reducing consumer food waste.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480 - 489
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 405004 Sustainable agriculture

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