Nearly 60% of UK householders carry out a lockdown spring clean…

but a rising mountain of small old electricals get left in the dark.

Konnie Huq provides answers to our lockdown hoarding concerns and new-found love of decluttering.

The Recycle Your Electricals ‘Little Spring Clean’ campaign is launched by Konnie Huq in response to the nation’s surge in lockdown spring cleans and clear outs.  The campaign is calling on the nation to recycle their electricals and put them in a bag ready to be recycled when lockdown lifts.  New research launched – UK householders are a nation of hoarders determined to hold onto old devices as a means of retaining their youth, or due to sentimental reasons for as much as a decade. 

  • Second to lockdown spring cleans, the nation’s other favourite pastime was an activity we all hold so dear, a lie in, 43% stated that they had been spending more time in bed in the mornings 
  • The total number of cables hoarded in UK homes (140 million) could circle the earth more than 5 times 
  • More than 5.5 million homes (20%) have hoarded retro games consoles like Nintendos, Mega Drives and Game Boys and over 2.7 million homes claim to have electrical toys like Furbys and Tamagotchis 
  • Whilst we have gone declutter crazy in the UK decluttering our small old electricals was one of our least favourite items to clear out with only (20%) clearing them out 
  • More women (63%) decluttered during lockdown compared to men (53%) [18],  but men gave more time to decluttering electricals, with 28% clearing them out compared to only 13% of women 
  • Konnie Huq launches the Little Spring Clean campaign video filled with tips and advice for how to recycle your old electricals.

Faced with many ‘big’ challenges at the moment, the newly launched Recycle Your Electricals campaign seeks to encourage householders to take action on the small steps that can be taken to ease the growing problem of electrical items – the fastest growing waste stream in the UK and the world.  The campaign is calling on UK households to stop hoarding and throwing away their old electricals and instead put them in a bag so that they can reuse, recycle or donate them once lockdown lifts; small steps towards a big change.

The Recycle Your Electricals ‘Little Spring Clean’ comes as new research carried out by the campaign highlights the hoarding secrets of the UK. The research also highlights the profound effect lockdown has had on attitudes to Spring cleaning, clearing out tech and the more surprising hoarding habits of the nation.

Konnie Huq and Nicola Lewis (Instagram sensation This Girl Can Organise) feature in a video for the campaign as they get to work clearing out the London flat of Nicola’s client. The former Blue Peter presenter and the British ‘Queen of Decluttering’ gathered a typical household’s hoarded old electrical products, fuelling the discussion on how to reuse, recycle or donate common items such as tablets, laptops, hairdryers, electric toothbrushes, phone chargers and more. Items that make up the millions hoarded or thrown away in the UK.  The duo explain that the first step is to gather, sort, and then put in a bag ready to be recycled once lockdown has lifted and local recycling facilities have reopened.  

The Recycle Your Electricals ‘Little Spring Clean’ comes as lockdown measures have given people the opportunity to reassess their attitudes towards clearing out.  Although we have become a nation of declutterers during lockdown only 20% are decluttering their old unused electricals during this time. Instead householders are focussed on sorting out clothing (65%), books and magazines (47%) and home accessories (34%). And why? We’re a sentimental, practical bunch; over a quarter listed sentimental value or nostalgia whilst almost a third keep them in case they want to use them again. 

Other domestic hoarding habits revealed that: 

  • Over a half of a million households have got 5-10 games consoles in their homes against a UK average of less than one per home 
  • Despite many charging cables becoming obsolete over time, 1.1million of us have been hoarding them for over ten years before getting rid of them, creating a tangled mountain of 5.58 million decades old cables 
  • Ever sat on the remote control? You’re not the only one; over 3 million homes are sitting on 5-15 of them, compared to a UK average of two per house 
  • One of the items we are holding onto longest are old unused speakers, with almost 2 million households keeping them for over a decade 
  • 5.8 million households (21%) are holding onto VHS players 
  • Similarly, cassette players are still being held on to in 4.7 million (17%) of homes 

Konnie Huq said of the campaign,“I’m a massive advocate of the crucial need to live as sustainably as possible. The coronavirus lockdown has given everyone time to assess what we have in our homes and our attitudes towards consumerism. Whilst many of us wouldn’t think twice about recycling certain stuff such as unwanted clothing or plastics, we just aren’t aware of the need to recycle our old electricals. For several reasons, we tend to hang on to these items, which has a significant environmental impact. The Recycle Your Electricals ‘Little Spring Clean’ is designed to change all of that, offering practical advice to show people what can be reused and recycled and how to do it. Go to the Recycle Your Electricals website to find out how to get involved.”

Nicola Lewis also commented, “Decluttering your old electricals is a fantastic way to make your home feel more organised and it’s also a great way to do your bit for the environment at the same time. My ‘keep’, ‘donate’, or ‘recycle’ decluttering tips can easily be used to help sort your old electricals, then all you need to do is pop them in a bag and store them until they’re ready to be recycled after lockdown lifts. Go to the Recycle Your Electricals website to find out where your nearest recycling point is and join us in the Little Spring Clean!”

Scott Butler, Executive Director of Recycle Your Electricals added,“Millions of our old small electricals are just simply being either chucked away or hoarded.  Whether it’s our old cassette player, remote controls, or VHS player, these items represent a vast precious resource of materials that are being simply lost forever which is why we are calling on householders to reuse, recycle or donate these items.  The Recycle Your Electricals campaign is making it easier for householders to take action by providing more recycling facilities and a postcode finder with details of over recycling, reuse and donation points across the UK.”

Regional statistics:

We asked respondents about the ‘quirky’ items they have stored in their homes found in their lockdown spring cleans. These included retro entertainment items and old kitchen appliances.

The most popular quirky items listed in each region were the following. 

Our top quirky* items** per region:

  • North East – VHS and Cassette players (18%)
  • North West – VHS players (21%)
  • Yorkshire & Humber – Retro games consoles & VHS players (24%) 
  • East Midlands – Retro games consoles & VHS players (16%)
  • West Midlands – Retro games consoles (23%) 
  • East of England – VHS players (22%)
  • London – Cassette players (19%)
  • South East – VHS players (23%)
  • South West – VHS players (21%) 
  • Wales – Retro games consoles and VHS players (23%)
  • Scotland – Retro games consoles andVHS players (21%) 
  • Northern Ireland – VHS players (36%)

*Quirky is defined as an item no longer in general household use as a product type, due to developments in technology or being no longer compatible with other forms of general household technology 

**At least one per household

Other regional statistics:

  • The biggest overall declutterers in the UK are in the south-east where almost three-quarters of UK householders embraced lockdown spring cleaning 
  • The region that carried out the most decluttering of unwanted electricals was Yorkshire and Humberside with 32% compared to the 20% UK figure 

Recycle Your Electricals is making recycling small old electricals easier than ever before by launching an information hub for the UK and making it easier for an additional 4.1 million households to access recycling facilities. A new postcode finder has launched on www.recycleyourelectricals.org.uk with details of over 2,000 recycling, repair and reuse points, with new collection and drop-off points being added to the site on an ongoing basis.  

As part of the ‘Little Spring Clean’, the Recycle Your Electricals campaign is making it easier to recycle your electricals by providing spring clean activities and toolkits for UK householders, to encourage the nation’s children to help them recycle.  An activity pack is available supported byHypnocat, a pink fluffy friend who will hypnotise your littles ones into going on a treasure hunt at home to dig out your old electricals during half-term.  

Share pictures, videos and stories of your own ‘Little Spring Clean’ and use the hashtag #LittleSpringClean or tag us on Facebook @RecycleYourElectricals Twitter @RecycleElectric & Instagram @RecycleYourElectricals_

For further press information please contact East of Eden:

hannah.bailey@eastofeden.london / peter.cuthbertson@eastofeden.london

Notes

* Whilst the UK is in lockdown due to Covid-19, Recycle Your Electricals advises checking the opening times for local recycling facilities and follow government social distancing advice.

Research

YouGov Plc. Research conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Recycle Your Electricals. Total sample size was 2,176 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th – 25th February 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Opinium. Research conducted by Opinium and commissioned by Recycle Your Electricals. Total sample size was 2003 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7thand 11thof May 2020.

How to get involved:

Anything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled.

Once you have decided that you want to recycle an old electrical, follow the ABC rule:

Ask yourself whether your old electrical item contains batteries or bulbs? They need to be removed before recycling. With computers or smart devices remove the memory and SIM cards and delete your data.

Bag It Find a bag that you can use to store all your old electricals until after lockdown or until collection day if you have one.

Check our easy recycling locator to find your nearest repair, reuse or recycling point. Some councils will also collect directly from your home. Otherwise keep your electricals in your bag until after lockdown.

Find out how you can get involved today

One of our friendly team will be happy to help.