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20th Oct 07

Obsolete objects take up a quarter of storage space in UK homes

More than a quarter of the storage space in British homes is now occupied by gadgets and household items that people have replaced but can’t bear to throw away, according to research out today from esure home insurance showing how laptops are superceding PCs and iPods® are rendering the midi hi–fi out–of–date.

esure home insurance’s ‘Obsolete Objects’ poll reveals that millions of items that are still working have now been boxed away and replaced by upgraded versions which are either more hi–tech or more fashionable. These items now reside untouched in the available space in our lofts, at the back of our cupboards and spare drawers, under our beds and outside in our garden sheds.

Although most obsolete objects will never again see the light of day, two thirds of people (69%) hoard them because "they still work and so it seems a waste to throw them away", while nearly the same amount (65%) think they can get away with fobbing them off to friends or family. Furthermore, 60% of people hang on to their surplus items just in case the upgraded version malfunctions or breaks down.

For a third of people (33%), their original outlay influences their decision: they believe that throwing away objects that were expensive at the time is like throwing good money away. This is understandable given that a typical VHS player had a price tag of £200*** ten years ago but a basic DVD player today can cost less than £30.

Across the nation, esure’s survey reveals there are currently 21.7 million mobile phones, 15 million film cameras, 12.9 million CRT TVs and 25.7 million VHS recorders facing an uncertain fate in UK homes. Furthermore, there are already 1.8 million Sat–Nav systems collecting dust that have been boxed–away and replaced by newer models.

Nikki Sellers, Head of Home Insurance for esure said:

"Millions of homes are tied to a constant upgrade cycle on account of new and better gadgets appearing almost daily. Unfortunately, we are also stockpiling the items they replace because we can’t bear to throw them away. There is the obvious impact on storage space but for insurance purposes, homeowners should remember to keep an inventory of everything they own whether they use it or not."

"esure urges anyone wanting to clear their clutter to consider the most environmentally friendly route of doing so – reuse, resell, give away or recycle cast offs rather than dumping them whenever possible."

Rank Upgraded item Percentage of households storing at least one
1 VHS recorders 56% = 25.7m
2 Old mobile phone 47% = 21.7m
3 Film camera 33% = 15m
4 Various old lighting fixtures/uplighters 31% = 14m
5 Traditional phone with cord 30% = 13.7m
6 Old CRT TV 28% = 12.9m
7 Sandwich toaster 26% = 12m
7 Manual tin opener 26% = 12m
9 Portable CD player 26% = 11.8m
10 Stack hi–fi system 25% = 11.3m
11 Steam iron 24% = 11.2m
12 Old PC 23% = 10.5m
12 Radio alarm clock 23% = 10.5m
14 Toaster 21% = 9.8m
15 Games consoles 21% = 9.6m
16 Vacuum cleaner with bag 21% = 9.5m
17 Mechanical bathroom scales 20% = 9m
18 Manual kitchen weighing scales 18% = 8.4m
19 Filter coffee maker 18% = 8.2m
19 Manual hand whisk 18% = 8.2m
21 Electric shaver 18% = 8.1m
22 Lawnmower 16% = 7.6m
23 Electric toothbrush 16% = 7.2m
24 Cassette camcorder 15% = 6.7m
25 Old BBQ 13% = 5.8m
26 Stack steamer 8% = 3.8m
27 Manual step machine 8% = 3.7m
28 Handheld TV 6% = 2.8m
29 Old Sat Nav system 4% = 1.8m


All research quoted is based on an ICM Poll involving the interview of a random selection of 1006 people aged 18+, by telephone on 6th September 2007.

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