I Took Part In The Everyday Plastic Survey - And So Should You

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I Took Part In The Everyday Plastic Survey - And So Should You


For one week in May, I collected every bit of plastic we used for the Everyday Plastic Survey: Lockdown Edition. These are the results.

Georgina Wilson-Powell

Wed 27 May 2020

Being confonted with your own plastic waste, is a humbling thing.

There's no escaping some kind single use plastic at the moment, no matter how hard you try. Our shopping habits have had to change, restrictions on ingredients, not being able to get online deliveries or access organic providers at the start of May, meant we were supermarket shopping once a fortnight, rather than dipping in and out of local shops, and choosing more plastic free items.

Collecting every small particle of it over the week was alarming as I couldn't avoid looking it piling up in my bag, knowing that none of it was going anywhere even when it was out of my house. This confrontation makes you think about every purchase you make, in terms of the plastic pollution problem you're adding to - which is why the Everyday Plastic Survey is such a fabulous, revealing thing to do.

It's not about finger pointing or shaming people, everyone is going to be on a sliding scale of single use plastic use, and we all know we have some weeks making better decisions than others. But having to deal with it in a pile and seeing what you buy (and eat) over a week, is insightful.

If you want to have a go, scroll down to the bottom to find out how you can take part in the next survey.

daniel_webb_everyday Plastic

Daniel Webb collect every bit of plastic he used for a year

What is the Everyday Plastic Survey Lockdown Edition

Having become the first person to hold onto and record a year's worth of plastic, Daniel Webb, of Everyday Plastic wants us all to run a mini version of his plastic audit. The first Everyday Plastic Survey took place at the start of June with 74 households (including us), who each kept, recorded and analysed their week's worth of single use plastic that would normally end up a bin, whether reyclcing or otherwise.

The results were staggering.

  • Over the course of the week, 10,440 bits of plastic were collected, recorded and analysed.
  • The average amount of plastic thrown away in a week was 141 bits of plastic per household.
  • Of the 10,440 pieces, 69% was used to wrap, package or consume food and drink.
  • There were 989 pieces of fruit and veg packaging waste, nearly 10% of the total figure.
  • The participants collectively threw away a total of 1,513 snack wrappers!
  • Only 37% of the plastic waste collected is considered recyclable by councils in the UK.– 66% was soft, thin, flimsy plastic, hardly any of which is recycled in the UK.

    If all households threw out the estimated average, it would mean that3.9 BILLION pieces of domestic plastic waste are being thrown away every week in the UK.
everyday plastic campaign results graphic

Daniel Webb, founder of Everyday Plastic, said: “These results are definitely frightening, but somewhat unsurprising. The COVID crisis has impacted every aspect of our lifestyle. With grocery shortages, early stockpiling speculation, restricted shopping and fewer packaging-free choices available under lockdown conditions, the outcome of The Everyday Plastic Survey supports assumptions that domestic plastic waste has increased over the last 6-8 weeks.”

My plastic footprint

No one is perfect and very few people can not use single use plastic in the lockdown, with even our most sustainable shopping habits disrupted. The survey doesn't work unless people are honest and transparent, so here's how my week in lockdown (first week in May) shaped up in terms of single use plastic.

In one week I threw away 80 bits of plastic - there were quite a lot of biscuit wrappers (how embarrasing).

Infographic of my personal everyday plastic footprint

This was my household's plastic footprint for a week in May

Most of it was food and drink packaging and 99% of it was single use plastic. If that's a normal week for my household, we'd get through over 4,700 bits of plastic a year.

So where does it go?

Everyday Plastic worked out that 60% would be burned and only 6% recycled, despite us seperating and recycling what we can.

Do you want to give it a go?

What is the Everyday Plastic Survey?

How you can get involved in the Everyday Plastic Survey Lockdown Edition

The next edition of the Everyday Plastic Survey will take place on 4 June (with more planned throughout the summer). It consists of four webinars which talk you through each stage of collecting, recording and analysing your plastic habits.

If you'd like to take part, register your interest here.

It's free to participate but donations are welcome to help keep the activity going.

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