A father has collected the world’s largest collection of empty crunchy packets – by storing more than 14,000 bags.
Gary Key, 57, and his family are sniffing through 100 bags a week and he started keeping the empty packages in 2012 because he felt guilty for sending them to the landfill.
His partner Joanne Richardson soon came on board with the collection, and when she died, he vowed to continue his “crazy hobby” in her memory.
The avid recycler – whose favorite flavor is Walkers Cheese and Onion – holds every bag he and his family eat.
But he also picks up everything he sees throwing away on the street and in parks. The collection is kept in his shed, but becomes so large that he begins to shrink the packages – by grilling them and rolling them up into small balls that he keeps in a large container.
Mr Key, of Cottingham, East Yorkshire, admits that his habit is unusual, but said he finds it reassuring to continue a project he started in her lifetime.
He said she called him an ‘idiot’ for his hobby, but when he suggested he quit, she told him ‘you better not’ and he has continued ever since.
Gary started collecting everything from Hula Hoops to Skips to Walkers Cheese and Onion packs in March 2012 and now has about 14,200.
The enthusiastic recycler’s headstrong pursuit aimed to prevent the bags from going to landfill unnecessarily, while distracting himself from partner Joanne Richardson’s terminal breast cancer.
She was diagnosed in December 2009 and sadly died at the age of 43 in October 2012 – just seven months after Mr. Key started collecting empty wrappers.
Mr. Key and Mrs. Richardson were civil partners for 17 years before she died.
He was left to raise their four children – Jordan Richardson, 24, Ashley Richardson, 21, Ryan Richardson, 19, and Alisha Key, 11.
Mr Key, who has been unemployed without vascular surgery since 2003, bundled the packages in groups of 100 with elastic bands without making balls.
Now he spends an hour grilling about 150 packs every night, then rolls them into balls in a process that takes ‘less than a minute’ each.
He said, “I have no idea how long I will keep collecting them. If that will put a smile on someone’s face, it’s good for me.”