Woman Standing At Kitchen Sink Washing Up
  • Households’ shock at their own kitchen sink manners caught on camera.
  • Low awareness of how much water we really use in the home.
  • CCW challenging consumers to develop their ‘sink sense’ to use water more mindfully.

Pouring large amounts of used cooking oil down the plughole and leaving the tap running for over 23 minutes are just a couple of the bad behaviours that have been caught on camera in fascinating new research looking at the kitchen sink habits of ordinary Brits.

Using motion-sensitive cameras researchers were able to observe the habits of 15 different households across England and Wales as part of a week-long study organised by the Consumer Council for Water (CCW).

Key moments from the footage were then replayed to the participants to explore why they behaved in certain ways – with many left shocked at their household’s less than squeaky clean habits.

Tony, aged 56 of Norwich, who participated in the study with his wife, Michelle, commented,

I’m disgusted. Absolutely disgusted! And there is going to be some very severe conversations later on.

Almost every household self-identified as environmentally friendly but when it came to their actions at the kitchen sink, what they said and what they did was wildly different. Practical considerations, such as trying to do things quickly or needing to run the tap to let it warm up, often got in the way of otherwise good intentions. Many just did things out of habit without thinking about their actions.

We are all more aware than ever of the climate challenges faced by the planet. However, many are not aware of the impact this has on our water supplies here in Britain. On average, each one of us uses more than 142 litres of water a day – equal to nearly two baths full of water! This level of water use and a growing population places tremendous pressure on our water resources and, combined with the effects of climate change, will result in England needing to find an additional 4,000 million of litres of water every day by 2050. Many parts of the UK are set to face significant water shortages, particularly in the south east of England. Making small changes in the way we use water at home will help ensure we keep taps flowing in the future.

All those involved in the study vastly underestimated their water use generally and at the kitchen sink. Many were unable to recall how long they left the tap running – with times ranging between 10 seconds and 23 minutes and 10 seconds. Most were seen putting cooking fat down the plughole – sometimes in very large quantities – risking blocked pipes and drains.

Emma Clancy, Chief Executive of CCW, the independent voice of water consumers, said:

We all lead busy lives and don’t always spare a moment’s thought for how our habits impact on the wider environment. We’re encouraging everyone to develop their ‘sink sense’ to save water and keep drains running free.

Develop your ‘sink sense’ with these simple kitchen sink hacks:

Use a washing up bowl

Using a washing up bowl, not only protects your glasses and crockery from damage whilst being washed up, but can also reduce water wastage by 50%.

Turn the tap off

Simply turning the tap off while you do the washing up can save 6 litres of water per minute.

Scrape grease and fat into the bin

Even small amounts of grease and fat can build up in pipes and drains over time, causing unpleasant and costly blockages. The costs for unblocking a private drain are around £279. Dispose of any leftover cooking fats by letting them cool in a container before scraping them straight into the bin.

For more information or to arrange an interview with our research participants or one of CCW’s experts please call Rebecca Collins on 07917 596482.


You can find out more about this research here.

Download the footage for publication here.