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‘Electrical lovers’ urged to let their unwanted gadgets go (21/06/2010)

Our modern reliance on electrical goods and the emotional bonds we form with them are preventing people from recycling unused items, according to new research launched ahead of Recycle Week, 21-27 June.

However, many of these much-loved items could be put to good use by someone else, or be broken down into components: recycling the valuable materials to help preserve natural resources. To mark the sixth annual Recycle Week, Recycle Now ( is encouraging us to recycle more.

Two fifths (39%) of us say that we, or people we know, are ‘electrical lovers’ with many missing out on time with partners, family and friends (25%), ignoring household chores (35%) and losing sleep (33%) to spend time with gadgets such as laptops, mobile phones and iPods.

Many of us continue to hang on to small electricals when we no longer have a use for them, whether they are broken or have been replaced with the latest model. Respondents admitted keeping their unused electrical items for both sentimental and practical reasons:

  • 40% feel too sad to part with an item they no longer use
  • 41% hoped the item might come in handy some day, or that they might be able to pass them on to someone
  • 23% feel that small electrical items seem too valuable just to throw away
  • 29% hang on to them because they are not sure what to do with them

Psychologist Linda Blair explains the motivations behind the emotional barriers to recycling:

“We value our electrical items because they make life easier and because so many of them connect us to the wider social world, either practically or because of the memories associated with them.

“Even when we no longer use them, we may be reluctant to let them go for a mixture of rational and sentimental reasons. A key factor is the sense of connection, control and safety these items give us. The attachment is similar to an infant needing a teddy, or a comfort blanket.

“This explains why we can end up having tantrums when the items break down, and why some of them end up accompanying us everywhere, having their place at meals and by the bed for example.”

If your old electrical item can still switch on, why not donate it at your local British Heart Foundation store and you will also be helping to raise money for charity, visit to find your nearest shop.

To find out more about how you can get involved go to