Published: 06:00, 31 May 2020
A Thanet eco-warrior has used lockdown to highlight the sheer volume of plastic waste in our everyday lives.
Daniel Webb, from Margate, made national headlines in 2018 after collecting the plastic he used for an entire year and transforming it into a huge mural.
The project revealed the staggering amount of unnecessary packaging accumulated from simple household items and food products.
The 38-year-old invited people to take part in a week of collecting every single piece of plastic that made its way into their households.
The experiment, titled Everyday Plastic: Lockdown Edition, revealed some shocking results.
With the help of volunteers from all over the country he found on average 141 pieces of plastic were thrown away in a single week, an increase of more than 50% from the survey conducted before lockdown.
If all households across the UK threw away this amount, there would be a whopping 3.9 billion pieces of plastic waste every single week.
Only 37% would be considered recyclable by councils, and only 5% would be recycled in this country.
He said: "The original idea was to help people at home who are either home schooling or on furlough to give them something to do, but also try to keep plastic pollution on the agenda.
"Instead of seeing plastic pollution just as a thing that affects the turtles in the Pacific Ocean, now they're seeing it in their own home."
Items that made up the bulk of the waste included wet wipes, fruit and veg wrapping, and snacks.
The data was collected from 75 households across the UK, with some collecting only 17 pieces and others more than 700.
The campaigner said: "We saw quite a big increase of waste produced, basically because people are at home. People have to make the kid's lunch, their own lunch, the snacks that they're having.
"Almost 70% was food and packaging waste, and there were almost 1,500 snack wrappers.
"We can see where the main culprits are, and what that helps us do is give people tips on how to reduce waste by cutting down on pre-packaged snacks for example."
Lockdown actually made things easier for Mr Webb. He was able to get the participating households together on mass Zoom video calls to talk through their waste and work out how to improve their footprints.
Now, Mr Webb is hoping people will sign up for the second round of surveys.
"Instead of seeing plastic pollution just as a thing that affects the turtles in the Pacific Ocean, now they're seeing it in their own home..."
He said: "We want to help people gain a better understanding of the plastic problem and increase awareness.
"We're not manipulating data, this is the situation - it's all true and authentic."
Mr Webb eventually hopes to use the data to help supermarkets and food retailers reduce their plastic packaging.
The eco-campaigner also made headlines last year after challenging the food delivery service HelloFresh, scolding them for using 32 pieces of plastic in a single delivery box.