HOUSEHOLD waste is a weighty issue – as our writer discovered when she wore the entire contents of her family’s bin.
Sun mum-of-four Jennifer Barton, 39, tried out a special “trash suit” worn by Jodie Kidd, Kerry Katona and John Barnes in Channel 4’s Celebrity Trash Monsters: What’s Your Waste Size?
The bonkers new show, hosted by Jon Richardson and airing Sunday, tasks the trio with wearing their household rubbish in bags around their body to make them face up to how much they consume and chuck away.
Dressed head-to-toe in a week’s worth of her litter, which included potato peelings, cereal boxes, takeout containers, empty washing detergent, chocolate wrappers and cardboard Amazon packages, Jennifer said she felt ashamed as she waddled around London Bridge – not just of how she looked, but by how much she throws in the bin.
She said: “It’s jarring to learn that the average Brit chucks out their own body weight in rubbish every seven weeks, and I’m now worried I’m chucking away far more than that.
“As I bought a coffee – producing yet more rubbish – two businessman stopped me and were horrified by how much waste I produce.
“Another passerby joked they’d never seen a walking flytip before and said I looked like I was in the film WALL-E, about a robot who cleans up garbage.”
By the time she went to pick up a sandwich in the supermarket for lunch, Jennifer said her body ached from how heavy and awkward the rubbish felt – and she was worried she was causing a stink.
“I could feel the weight of the stares as people eyed me up, judging my wasteful consumer habits,” she said.
“I couldn’t fit through the doors of the shop or my office building without assistance.
“The sheer volume and extreme size of my trash suit made me wonder if this is what it’s like to wear couture at the Met Gala, except I’m sure celebs don’t smell anything close to how I did (and that’s after I cheated by not putting all my perishables in the bags).
“My massive bulk also didn’t reflect my weekly wine consumption as I didn’t put glass in for safety reasons.”
Jennifer admitted it’s easy to turn a blind eye to your rubbish after you’ve thrown it in the wheelie bin outside.
But seeing the bin bags fill up throughout the week and take over her kitchen was uncomfortable, especially for her kids.
“My eight-year-old thought it was disgusting how much stuff we throw out every day,” she said.
“Though when I pointed out that a not-insignificant part of our trash was generated by her, she insisted none of it was hers.
My eight-year-old thought it was disgusting how much stuff we throw out every day
“Before I did this experiment, I was practically smug about my consumer habits.
“I mostly shop secondhand, I stopped eating meat two years ago, I get plastic-free fruit and veg boxes and I even have my milk delivered in reusable glass bottles.
“But seeing the insane amount of rubbish my family produces is the wake-up call I needed: now I can’t unsee it and I want to do better.”
Reality of consumer habits
In the show, John, Kerry and Jodie wear the trash suits to go about their everyday business, from the school run to the supermarket, work meetings and catch-ups with friends and family.
Physically seeing all of their rubbish – and staggering under the weight of it – makes it impossible for the stars to deny the impact of their overconsumption.
Kerry, 41, is takeaway-obsessed, while 43-year-old Jodie’s family eat meat every day – a no-no for the planet since meat is responsible for 60 per cent of all greenhouse gases from food production.
Meanwhile John, 57, is overly reliant on plastic-packaged ready meals.
The experiment aims to teach them how to reduce their carbon footprint with challenges and new household rules.
The celeb who shrinks theirs the most is crowned the winner.
Shockingly, only about 45 per cent of plastics in the UK can be recycled.
Tessa Clarke, co-founder of food waste and sharing app OLIO, said: “Recycling is marginally better than landfill.
“Most of us are ‘wishcyclers’ who throw things into the recycling bin wishing it can be recycled, but the reality is you’ve probably just contaminated the whole load.”
Tessa managed to reduce her own family’s waste from two large black bin bags a week to one or two small biodegradable bin bags a month by turning eco-swaps into a game, replacing one wasteful thing a week with a reusable or plastic-free alternative.
“We are healthier, we are wealthier and we are happier,” she said, adding that her family saved loads of money by cutting meat from their diets.
Celebrity Trash Monsters: What’s Your Waste Size? airs Sunday 17 October at 9pm.