A recycling bin full of empty alcohol bottles may be a sign you are drinking too much, a UK charity warned today.
The Drinkaware Trust's new £1m poster campaign shows a recycling bin overflowing with bottles with the slogan "Big party at the weekend?" and a bottle bank with the message "Do you come here often?"
The charity said people who drink more than the recommended limits at home are a "forgotten group" as most health campaigns target young people.
Older drinkers are more likely to be settled with children, but their drinking can slide out of control.
"Drinking in the home can lull us into a false sense of security because we simply fail to take note of the amount we consume," said its chairman, Derek Lewis.
"Many people are unwittingly at risk from the long-term health problems associated with drinking too much alcohol.
"With this campaign, we're encouraging everyone to use the evidence of the cans and bottles in their recycling bins to gauge whether or not they're overdoing it."
The campaign comes after a new poll found Britons drink at home more often than in pubs, bars and restaurants.
Drinkaware's Urban Life survey of 4,400 people found they drank alcohol at home nearly twice a week, compared with an average 1.5 times at a pub, bar or restaurant.
One in six people also worried about the amount they drank, based on the contents of their recycling bin.
Drinkaware said many home drinkers were not drinking heavily, but needed to monitor their consumption.
"The trust is not suggesting people give up alcohol. Alcohol does have a very positive part to play: it helps people to relax, it's an important part of our social life," Lewis said.
"It can be part of your 'most days' lifestyle without creating risks, providing you manage your consumption."
The Drinkaware posters will be displayed in stations, on buses and around cities in the UK.
One in four British adults drink at levels which put their health at risk, the charity said.
The government is considering compulsory health warnings on display wherever alcohol is sold, as well as a curb on free drink promotions, to cut health and social problems related to drunknenness.
The chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, said people need to check how many units they consume.
"Alcohol is an ever-growing public health concern, with excess alcohol consumption increasing the risk of diseases such as hypertension, stroke and of course liver cirrhosis," he added.
The Drinkaware survey, carried out last month, follows a poll by the charity in June which found 81% of people did not know the daily alcohol unit guidelines.
The government recommend drinking no more than 2-3 units a day for women and 3-4 units a day for men.
# Sara Gaines
# October 20, 2008