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What is Everyday Plastic?

From 1 January 2017, I decided that I would not throw away any of the plastic waste I produced. Not a bottle top, piece of bubble wrap, straw, toothbrush, salad bag, coffee lid, clothing label - whether I was at home or out and about - would be thrown away.

By the end of the year, 22 x 80-litre bin bags sat in my flat, filled to the brim with plastic items. Each one has a single fleeting function, yet an almost eternal existence.

The results are as stark as they are shocking. I want to show and share with people what a year's worth of your plastic use looks like. It’s this simple ambition that forms the concept of Everyday Plastic and asks: what is our individual contribution to plastic pollution?

This display of thousands of familiar pieces of everyday rubbish will clearly illustrate just one person's impact on plastic pollution in a tangible, visual and visceral manner.

Alongside the display, a robust and comprehensive report on my 2017 plastic usage will be released. This will outline how many items are in the collection, what percentage is RECYCLED versus what is RECYCLABLE, what will end up in landfill, exported, incinerated, sea-bound. Not only that, having weighed the entire collection, I can tell you how much petrol, oil, water and energy was used in both the manufacture and content of the plastic, as well as the carbon footprint.

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Dan, why the HELL did you save all your plastic for a year?

Margate, like thousands of coastal towns across the country, is overwhelmed by plastic pollution in its seas. It costs the council millions to clear its coastline each year. However, as I live in a flat, my local council - Thanet District Council - cannot offer me curb-side recycling. In fact, plastic recycling is limited to those who manually opt-in. The council is not proactive in outlining what can be recycled, or educating its residents about plastic pollution.

Reluctantly accepting this fact, I saved a bag of plastic to take to the local tip. When I arrived, there was no section for plastic. "Just dump it in the household waste, mate" said one of the onsite staff... Right, ok then.

If most of it is not being recycled, then how much plastic waste is each of us producing and where is it ending up?

This project will candidly convey the realities of our plastic production and consumption and its consequences.

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What are you looking to achieve?

This project’s primary aim is to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the UK and encourage action to prevent it. 

I’m not here to point fingers and tell you off. I want to understand the attitude of supermarkets, manufacturers, businesses, politicians, consumers, kids, restaurants, environmentalists etc. in an attempt to get a full picture of the state of the problem. 

Everyday Plastic has been a huge learning curve, and continues to be. Hopefully I can share some of what I've picked up along the way, as well as learn from you.

Let’s nip this in the bud now, while we can.