What we waste – How data visulisations can help us tackle food waste

Photo by Gareth Willey from Pexels

With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day, digesting information can be a challenge. According to new research by Experian, almost half of Brits (45%) know it’s essential to understand daily information such as news, letters and emails but 52% admitted they feel unconfident understanding numbers and statistics. Almost one in three (29%) said they would find it less overwhelming digesting this volume of information if it was made simpler.

The new research reveals that almost three in five (57%) believe they are visual learners. Whilst almost four in 10 (39%) admit to having to read a sentence a number of times before understanding it, over a third (35%) said that they tend to digest information more quickly when in picture or video form. In fact, over one in four (28%) Brits actively avoid reading anything which appears too text-heavy but 27% said they would be happy to read a longer article or social media post if it included a visualisation to bring the data and information to life.

Two in five (42%) said that understanding information helps them to feel more in control of their life. A further one in five (20%) felt they would be empowered and able to achieve more if they knew how to confidently interpret more of the information they are exposed to in their daily lives.

Most respondents (85%) agree that data is crucial in helping people better understand the world. And it seems the pandemic has helped people become more comfortable with understanding complex data, with 31% of respondents saying they preferred Professor Chris Whitty’s simple slides to explain COVID-19 issues but become confused when faced with complex statistics alone.  When asked where they felt data visuals could most help them make sense of complex topics and issues, half (50%) identified COVID, 40% said personal finance and three in five (58%) said climate change.

In response, Experian is exploring a more visual approach to understanding complex information to help people take control of their data, by partnering with David McCandless, writer, designer and founder of ‘Information is Beautiful’, to create a series of easily digestible infographics which bring data to life, encapsulating the benefits of visual story telling.

Released today, the first infographic aims to help break down the issue of food waste in a way that people will understand. The new data visualisation reveals that over 20 million slices of bread are wasted every day in the UK, along with 1 million onions and 820,000 bananas – which equates to 300 million bananas per year. The research shows that over two thirds (38%) of Brits are not aware of the scale of the food waste issue and more than three in four (77%) said that visualising the data could help them make clearer and more informed decisions about the world around them.

“One of the many potentials of data visualisation is it helps to bring the data down to earth,” according to David McCandless, founder of ‘Information is Beautiful. He says:

“Data has enabled us take on some of the most profound challenges, helping us to solve major societal problems, understand diseases and protect our environment. There’s an opportunity to use it to help people take personal action to improve their own circumstances and plan for the future. Climate change is one of the most pressing issues we face, and many of us don’t realise the impact of throwing away the odd banana or slice of bread. By visualising the issue, we can bring it to life in a way that encourages people to take action.”



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