One in five Brits are living in chaos because they refuse to throw anything away – including cardboard boxes, old mobile phones and ancient school reports

  • One fifth of Brits (20%) admit to hoarding unused and useless items in the homes, from broken phone chargers to cardboard boxes which ‘may one day prove useful’
  • On average, Britons hold on to at least seven empty boxes year-round – with an extra seven arriving per week in the run up to Christmas
  • Other items we don’t throw away include clothes that are never worn, old mobile phones and books that will never be read again

A fifth (20%) of Brits are self-confessed hoarders, with two in five (41%) admitting they cannot bear throwing things away, according to new research by cardboard campaign group Beyond the Box.

The poll of 1,500 adults revealed that the clutter is getting worse, with the average Brit receiving three online deliveries every week and over half (55%) admitting if they buy something new, they don’t recycle the packaging and leave it lying around the house.

The average British home contains at least seven empty cardboard boxes stashed and stowed everywhere, from the attic to the garden shed. And, with Black Friday and Christmas just around the corner, households are expecting to receive an additional four deliveries per week –amounting to an eye-watering total of 42 cardboard boxes accumulating before Christmas Day.

Three-quarters of Brits (75%) confess that they have far too much junk lying around their house; the items we are most likely to hold onto include clothes we never wear (67%), garments which no longer fit (48%), old mobile phones (36%), and books we will never read again (31%).

The research found that almost half of us (48%) like keeping everything as we are convinced something might come in useful again in the future, while two in five (37 %) feel too nostalgic to throw things away and almost a third (32%) simply never get around to sorting through everything.

Almost a fifth of Britons (19%) confess to having cupboards, drawers and even whole rooms dedicated to storing old clutter and junk. So it’s no surprise that more than a quarter (28%) think that Britain is a nation of secret hoarders.

Andy Barnetson, spokesperson for Beyond the Box, said: “It’s lovely to see that Brits are so sentimental and attached to items they accumulate at home over the years. However, I think we can all agree that there are certain things we don’t need to hang on to forever.

“From cardboard boxes and packaging to old electricals and clothes we don’t wear, these items can be recycled to make valuable space in the home for the things we actually want to keep.

“Cardboard can be disposed of easily as part of your normal kerb-side recycling collection and we’d encourage everyone to keep recycling their cardboard, as it’s in high demand thanks to an e-commerce and home delivery boom. The paper fibres in cardboard can be re-used up to seven times so by recycling, we can make sure the cycle keeps moving.”

Brits are also clutching onto old phone chargers (28%), ancient bills and paperwork (28%), jewellery they never wear (27%) and even broken furniture (24%).

And while one in five (22%) don’t have the heart to throw away gifts they hate, we also hang onto half empty pots of paint (20%), pens that don’t work (18%), and old receipts (17%).

The research also found that when it comes to where we like to hoard items at home, 38% have a dedicated cupboard, 34% have a clutter drawer and three in ten (31%) have filled a whole spare room.

Twenty-nine percent prefer to hoard junk in the attic, while a quarter (26%) push everything to the back of their wardrobe.

And almost a quarter of Britons (23%) confess to doing a clutter sweep – tidying away all the junk in the house – every single time guests are expected over.

Yet despite being a nation of hoarders, one in ten (11%) admit they judge other people on the amount of clutter they have in their homes.


1 Clothes I never wear 67%
2 Clothes that don’t fit me anymore 48%
3 Old mobile phones 36%
4 Books I never intend to read again 31%
5 Old phone chargers 28%
6 Old bills and other paperwork 28%
7 Jewellery which I never wear 27%
8 Old furniture 24%
9 Presents I’ve been given but don’t like 22%
10 Empty or used pots of paint 20%
11 Empty cardboard boxes 20%
12 Pens that don’t work 18%
13 Chipped crockery 17%
14 Damaged technology 17%
15 Old receipts for products I no longer have 16%
16 Unused kitchen gadgets 16%
17 Old school reports 15%
18 Recyclable packaging 14%
19 My child’s old toys 14%
20 Old computers 14%
21 Expired passports and drivers’ licenses 14%
22 Old laptops 14%
23 My school and college work 13%
24 Old keys 13%
25 Used batteries 11%
26 Jewellery which is damaged or tangled 10%
27 Old videos 10%
28 Clothes my kids are too old to wear 9%
29 Old TVs 9%
30 Old newspapers 9%
31 Old hairstyling tools 7%
32 Broken furniture 7%
33 Unused exercise equipment 7%
34 Old toys for my pet 5%
35 Old magazines and papers 5%


Notes to Editors

Research of 1500 Britons commissioned by Beyond the Box, and conducted by Perspectus Global in Oct 2021

About Beyond the Box

Bringing together experts from leading UK packaging companies, Beyond the Box, launched by the Confederation of Paper Industries, helps Britons learn more about the nation’s sustainable packaging choice: Cardboard.

Visit for more information.

For more information, including spokesperson requests, please contact Jessica Hey or Sophie Menzies at Richmond & Towers Communications: / 07783 682122 / 07747 842021