Walking around our homes, the single-use plastic dotted around has become almost invisible to the naked eye. Our goal is to pave a straightforward and, importantly, transparent path for consumers, helping turn their home from a plastic-churning machine to a sustainable haven.
Our latest “Sustainable House Tour” study reveals how much plastic waste our home’s upkeep and personal care are responsible for and which areas and items are the ‘top offenders’. If your question is “where on earth do I start?”, have a go at our tool below.
The bathroom produces 30.9kg of plastic waste per household per year, and 1,030,037kg collectively across UK households.
Doing the laundry produces 3.93kg of the home’s plastic waste per household per year, and 130,870kg collectively across UK households.
We specialise in non-food sustainable products for the home. Even without the whopping contribution of plastic waste from food packaging, the kitchen produces 3.73kg of plastic waste per household per year (excl. plastic from food waste). This is 126,076kg of plastic waste per year across UK households.
The living room produces 2.9kg of plastic waste per household per year, and 97,309kg per year across UK households.
The bedroom produces 2.4kg of plastic waste per household per year, and 79,960kg per year across UK households.
The average UK household produces 48.5kg of single-use plastic waste per year and only 9% of this is recycled. Across the UK, this figure totals a whopping 1,544,760kg of plastic waste a year. To put that in perspective, that’s around the weight of 1,160 Mini Coopers! But if the average household buys 1677 units of single-use plastic products each year, then that’s also 1677 opportunities to make an alternative, more sustainable choice.
Assessing the damage done room by room, we’ve identified the worst offenders, to help you swap out bad purchasing habits for better ones:
Who knew keeping clean was so dirty for the planet? This room accounted for a shocking 63.7% of the total single-use plastic waste.
The worst plastic pollutant in the shower tray is body wash, which single-handedly is responsible for 61,639 kg of waste in the UK per year!
Keeping the toilet sparkling clean has a detrimental effect too. Of the 40 different bathroom products we considered, toilet cleaner accounted for 11% of the bathroom’s single-use plastic waste.
But there were other substantial offenders. Sanitary pads accounted for 8.7% of the bathroom’s single-use plastic waste, and deodorant for 7.6%
The utility room is the second worst single-use plastic hotspot in the home. Perhaps one of the smaller rooms in the house, it still manages to contribute towards 8.1% of a household's single-use plastic waste. The three biggest culprits in this room are fabric conditioner (which accounts for 20% of the rooms waste), glass and mirror cleaner (which accounts for 14.2%) and finally, something we’ve all been using much more of over the past year, surface sanitising spray (which also accounts for 14.2%).
The plastic waste generated by food packaging alone is a colossal issue. Luckily, zero-waste shops are becoming increasingly commonplace, making it easier to refill, rather than chuck out, food containers (remember to take your produce bags to the shops too!).
In this guide, we are focussing our attention away from food packaging and onto the rest of the kitchen. The kitchen accounts for 7.7% of a home’s single-use plastic waste, and 22.1% of the kitchen’s output can be blamed on kitchen cleaning spray alone.
More thorough hand washing also means more plastic waste. One fifth of all kitchen waste is from hand-wash bottles, which equates annually to 25,524kg of UK wide waste.
Washing up liquid also accounts for a sizable 11.5% of the kitchen’s plastic waste - which mounts up to a 14,455 kg. heap of bottles per year in the UK!
What single-use plastic waste can you find in the bedroom? There is one huge hotspot, which independently accounts for 79.2% of the bedroom’s contribution: make-up.
In a two person household, you can expect to rack up around 1.9 kg. of makeup waste per year. The cosmetic having the most ugly impact is lipstick: lipstick accounts for 23% of bedroom single-use plastic waste, and 29% of a makeup-bag. Unfortunately, despite many skincare components technically being recyclable, they often fall out of the recycling process due to size.
Although the living room may use up a lot of energy - the TV, for example, accounts for 33% of domestic electronic electricity consumption - this room produces very little single-use plastic waste. So little, in fact, we could only identify one relevant item. If you are in the habit of guzzling down a bottled drink in front of the TV (like soft drinks or sparkling water), then over the course of the year, you would amass just under 3kg of plastic waste.
We know that the impact of single-use plastics is devastating: from the effect of plastic on marine life, to toxic landfill and carbon-polluting incineration. Sometimes these issues can seem so overwhelming, that it’s hard to know where to start. By taking one part of our everyday lives (our home) and tackling the issue room by room, we hope our ‘Sustainable Home Tour’ helps you see how you can make a difference.
By ensuring closed loop recycling of all household product packaging, Bower Collective can help you embark on a sustainable journey towards a greener home.