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The top 10 shocking facts about waste

By Rachel England Wednesday 11 September 2013

Remember what granny used to say every time you went to put something in the bin? ‘Waste not, want not.’ The problem is we’re a nation of wanters, and considering the shocking statistics on our trash tendencies, we’re a nation of wasters, too! Check out these shocking facts on our (literally) rubbish habits.

Waste

  1. We bin around 50 million tonnes of electrical waste globally every year. That’s nearly four million double decker buses worth of old computer equipment, TVs, stereos and kitchen appliances, stretching to the moon more than three times over! Learn more about preventing electrical waste here.
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  2. We throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food every year, and more than half of that is perfectly edible. Meanwhile, one in seven people across the world doesn't have enough to eat. Learn how to reduce your food wastage – and save up to £50 a month – here.
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  3. Between 20% and 40% of fruit and vegetables are rejected by supermarkets before they even hit the shelves because they don’t adhere to their cosmetic standards. IE – they’re misshapen, lumpy or just plain weird-looking! But that’s how nature intended them, right? Bypass the shops by growing your own.

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  4. The amount of trash generated by the UK could fill Britain’s largest lake, Lake Windermere, in just eight months. Or, to put it another way, it could fill London’s Albert Hall in two hours.
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  5. We use around 500 million plastic bags every week in the UK, and each will take between 500 and 1,000 years to decompose in landfill. However, Wales has reduced its plastic bag use by a staggering 90% simply by making it the law for shops to charge 5p per bag.
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  6. At Christmas, as much as 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper will end up in UK bins when it could have been recycled instead. That’s the same size as Sunderland!
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  7. Recycling is great, but it’s better to reuse an item instead. A shame then, that a whopping 83% of perfectly good sofas in the UK are sent to the dump or for recycling, rather than being given a second chance in a new home. If we could double the number of sofas reused in the UK we’d save around 52,000 tonnes of CO2!
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  8. The number of disposable nappies each baby gets through weighs the same as a family car! Find out more about disposable and reusable nappies here.
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  9. It would take you nearly three and a half thousand years to sing ‘Six Billion Green Bottles’, which is how many glass bottles and jars we use every year! If those end up in landfill they’ll never decompose.
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  10. It’s not just what goes in the bin that counts as waste – water can be wasted, too. A single leaky tap in your house can waste as much as 5,000 litres of water a year. If we all fixed our dripping taps we could supply 120,000 people with a day’s worth of water; a pretty significant saving considering we may soon be drinking sewage to make up for the short fall (yes, really!).
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