War on Waste radio program and podcast

4 June 2017
I thought I was fairly up to date on the growing waste issue in the world but a three part ABC TV program called War on Waste showed me that it's a much bigger disaster than I ever imagined. The last of the TV shows aired yesterday so I was really pleased and grateful to receive an email from a friend at the ABC (thanks Andrew) telling me about a continuing conversation about the growing problem on an ABC podcast.

The show is hosted by Craig Reucassel and the wonderful Wendy Harmer, and will continue to cover many of the issues started by the TV show. You can listen online or download the podcast.  This service is available for our international readers too.  

Did you know that disposable coffee cups aren't recycled?  I didn't know that clothes shopping had become such a huge problem - that's all covered in episode 3.  Watching a group of girls shop for clothes (almost a daily activity) and listening to the stats associated with fashion waste shocked and upset me. We are all responsible for the products we buy and the waste materials that come from those products.  I'll be listening to these radio programs hoping to learn as much as I can so I can make changes here.  We all need to be in this, step up, take responsibility and put our own sensible plans in place. All of us need to do this in our own homes because we're almost at the point of no return.

If you're in Australia, you can watch the three TV shows on iView, then continue with the podcasts. These can be listened to online or you can download the podcast. Let me know what you think of the program and if it's made you change your buying habits and what you do at home.


  1. Rhonda I too was shocked and saddened by the sheer scale of the waste produced in such a vast array of areas....plastics, foods, clothing the list surely goes on. I made sure my children, aged 11, 9, 7 and 4, all watched the episodes and was heartened to see them impacted by it. They felt the food wastage, especially on the farms, was ludicrous...but they felt proud that as a family we have less waste than most, mostly due to my determination to use leftovers and the fact that almost everything else goes to the chooks.
    We have already researched the Red cycle program and found that our closest 'bin' is 2hours away, however you can collect up your soft plastics and send them directly to the company...so we now have a collection point here at home.
    I am so proud and pleased to see them being so proactive about it...even the youngest makes his contribution. I sent my eldest to the shop to get a bottle of milk the other day and he refused the plastic bag...he was pretty chuffed with himself.
    Every little bit helps and educating is crucial to changing our ways.
    Cassandra xx

    1. Well done to you and your children, Cassandra. I agree, it takes education, awareness, a feeling that we CAN do something and working out our own ways of doing what is necessary. It's such a huge problem but we all contributed to it in millions of tiny ways so we can use similar tiny steps, such as your son's refusal of the plastic bag, to improve it.

      Thanks for taking the time to let me know what's happening in your home. xx

  2. I watched the first episode of War on Waste but held off watching the rest so we can watch them all as a family. My eldest is currently talking about environmental issues at school so it has come at the perfect time. We are currently (finally) building our new big veggie patch and compost area at our old cottage. He is particuarly interested in the composting as he is an avid little gardner. He has his own succulants which he propegates and then sells back to us and he is always on the lookout for new ones.

    I was shocked at the food wastage straight off the farm. I knew the big supermarkets had unreasonably tight standards, but I thought the "ugly" food went to places for bulk processing for things like juicing/drying/bulk processing for baking/babyfood/canning/pet food industry and so forth. I was shocked to see so much of it didnt even make it off the farm.

    I like the idea of selling "sized" fruit. They have done this with apples to a degree, selling "kid size" lunch box apples, mind you they also wrap it in plastic.....this was a great option for the bananna industry too....I like big banannas, my parents like small ones....it simply makes sense.

    But the whole thing breaks my heart, for the environment, for the farmers, for how far we have moved from understanding what real food looks like.

    The clothing thing is astounding. I have no words.

    Great links Rhonda. I will be listening to the pod cast with the boys on school run, and follow up the doco with them. You have made it easier for me to find. ;)


    1. Hi Em, yes, it's a sad and disappointing situation. I think the solution will be driven by teenagers and younger children. I know many people bag the younger generation but I think they'll lead the way for us on this. My grandchildren already have an awareness of recycling, compost and waste. It sounds like your boys are the same. xx

  3. Hi Rhonda, I have watched and rewatched the War on Waste, episodes on iview, you are quite right in saying it may be too late, look what man has done, spoilt our earth and oceans with our shocking use of plastic bags, wasted food and fast fashion. Over the last year or so I have been slowly diminishing my use of single use plastics in our life, starting small by replacing our toothbrushes with bamboo toothbrushes. I bring my own bags and containers when shopping, use up all food to prevent waste and as far as clothes are concerned I Op shop for good quality clothes a few times a year. We must all do something to stop this crazy pollution of our earth 🌏 we only have one. Have a lovely week.

  4. We have had a similar programme in the UK. A celebrity has fronted it and he took on supermarkets, local councils etc The farmers were being short-changed by the supermarkets telling them they'd only take carrots that are straight, so many inches long and a certain girth. They were ploughing loads back into the ground. People said they'd buy wonky veg it was no big deal especially if it reduced the price. We waste far too much but also we don't know what the big guys are doing!

  5. Rhonda, I was shocked and appalled by this tv series. I have always hated waste but but it's at another level now. Thankyou for spreading the word, I think you do a fantastic job.

  6. I agree, it's an excellent show and really opened my eyes to the escalating problem with plastic bags. I have made a commitment to decline the use of a plastic bag when shopping and if an opportunity presents to talk about the show. Interesting a lot of people said they had watched the show and they were more conscious about waste and recycling. I'm making small netting bags to use when purchasing fruit and veges and have always used shopping bags. I was also astounded that coffee cups are not recyclable so have purchased a reusable cup.

    1. I live in the Blue Mountains. Supposedly a pristine environment, but if I think of all the trucks delivering goods together with the packaging makes me think that we live in a pristine environment and what we do we bring tuckloads of packaged things and other consumer goods which turn into rubbish very soon into our World heritage area.
      The big supermarkets and retailers really have their say about how food is packed (or not) what is imported (or not) and they don't care about the waste. They create a huge waste dump and leave the mess to the communities. We are living in a society were the big companies decide what's going on!
      At our Co-op here you can bring your own jars which is a tiny step in the right direction. When I was a kid a washing machine would last a lifetime - why don't we have mandatory laws to only import goods which last a lifetime and then can be taken apart and recycled?

  7. Thanks for putting a sharp focus on this Rhonda and for sharing the podcast link. I don't think I would have found/gone looking for it otherwise.

    We are indeed in a real pickle with how we live on this fragile blue-green jewel but I take a lot of heart from things like your blog, this podcast and the work of many, many others, as we slowly turn to realise (although I wish it were a lot faster) that we must live more sustainably.

    You probably have it on your list, but one of my other 'must listens' is a podcast that comes out of Geelong called 'The Sustainable Hour'. Mik and his team cover a lot of subject matter. It is always informative and entertaining.

    The Podcast is here: http://947thepulse.com/programguide/viewprogram-32.html
    and it is also worth checking out his archive of materials on his blogsite for the last 4 years: http://climatesafety.info/

  8. Hello from the U.S. We have curbside garbage removal in our neighborhood, so I simply had NEVER been to our landfill until this year. What I saw made me cry, and that's when I started reading up on waste and landfills. (And YES, the podcasts you linked are available here, too!) It's made me buy locally sourced food, hardware, and dry goods when available, drastically change my plastic use, and sign up for Verena Erin's Fast Fashion Fast. Verena is a young (compared to me) Canadian blogger who is trying her best to spread the word about waste in fast fashion.

  9. Hi all,
    Living in Tasmania offers very different challenges to the mainland but we have a few really fantastic things that should be mentioned - not just the plastic bag rule. Almost everyone takes bags to our supermarkets so we must have reduced the use a fair bit. But it's what farmers here do that should be noted - they don't destroy wonky food, they sell it to makers of products such as pickles or make something themselves or give it to charities. Too old fashioned down here to destroy it!
    And the recycling done at Launceston waste plant is incredible! About 75% of rubbish is recycled and the tip generates methane power for 2000 homes.
    The War on Waste was good but not giving enough solutions.

  10. Thank you for the links to the podcasts. I had missed the TV series, but was listening on the radio at different times. I have been inspired by both the series and your blog and books to make more changes in our home. We are encouraged with how simple some of the changes have been. Your recipe for laundry liquid has been a real money-saver with the endless loads of washing from our little guesthouse!

  11. I missed the clothing episode but will watch iview, and have been trying to eliminate the use of plastic in my home as well such as Gladwrap etc ever since I watched an excellent documentary on the impact of plastic on the oceans at the Museum on Lord Howe Island 2 weeks ago. There are a lot of antiplastic warriors. They emphasised putting the problem back onto the supermarkets and unwrap anything that you buy wrapped in plastic at the checkout and hand back the plastic to the company to dispose of. It is a very worrying scenario and I don't think we can emphasize the problem enough. I think bloggers can play a large role in this as well.Good on you Rhonda

  12. I have seen the first two shows of this series. I am thankful to have learned more from this program. Clothing waste is huge in my home. Both my daughters buy so many items of clothing. Some companies make clothing so cheaply that the girls do not seem to see beyond the I can have it new, I can have it now and worse still...I can't be seen in the same outfit twice. It is so easy to be taken in by fancy packaging etc. I am slowly making changes and hope to ease the burden we place on our poor planet.

  13. Hi Rhonda, I missed seeing the shows and do not have the option of iviewing them but I have been concerned for a long time about the products that are polluting our world, I remember my Grandma going shopping, she had two cane baskets and everything came home in them, most things were packaged in paper products, even your meat from the butcher. Paper is compostable. What we really need to do is say to our Government that we refuse to accept plastic wrapping and they should outlaw it forcing companies to look at new ways of packaging. Also there needs to be an outlet that sells rejected fruit and veg at a discounted price, a lot of people would support this. Maybe we need a finacial crunch because years ago people could not waste on clothes they were hard to come by.People really need to change but so do Governments, plastics are having a negative impact on the health of people and nothing is being done to fix this.I get really upset about waste and hope we can change things. Judi

  14. I have not watched any of the episodes as yet but waste in all of its guises has been a passion of mine for well over 20 years. The thing that has impressed me most is the number of people who have previously shown no interest have begun discussing the issues raised. This is the first positive step towards some increased action so I am very heartened after years of feeling like a lone voice in the wilderness.

    I agree that it may be too little, too late but we must remain positive.

  15. I really was disappointed when I heard the girls on the War on Waste program talk about wearing clothes only once because it's been on their Instagram. I've been wearing the same two dresses to every semi formal occasion for the last few years and I don't think anyone has noticed (I don't really take selfies though) and if they did, I don't care.
    It does bring up a memory, though.
    When I was about 19 I was publicly criticised for wearing one top a lot when I went out. At the time I was shattered because it was my favourite and it made me feel good but after that I didn't feel so good when I wore it. One of the things to come out of that experience was that I started thinking a lot about why people do that and I came to think it's because their self worth doesn't come from within. They've been trained by our culture that they have to buy it, so they always feel insecure without the latest thing. I now feel sorry for people who make judgemental comments about what people wear.

  16. I'm in the US and don't own a TV but am aware that many of the clothes offered/purchased are not biodegradable. Spandex, Lycra as well as synthetics don't compost - ever. So glad you are sharing this.

  17. I'm lucky to live in a city that has been very forward thinking about recycling and waste management. We have had curbside recycling pick up for almost thirty years, and curbside pick up of organic waste that is hauled away to be composted started within the last year or so. Any waste that doesn't fall into those categories goes to a city trash burner that generates energy when it burns, so nothing goes to a landfill. Even with this great system, not everyone participates, and I'm not sure that the organic waste system is available to businesses likes restaurants and grocery stores, which would obviously really help. It seems like the most powerful thing you can do to avoid packaging waste is to cook/make things yourself. That is still a work in progress for me, but if you make dinner at home instead of doing take-out, you're saving all the packaging that comes with take out food. If you make your own laundry detergent, you avoid buying those huge plastic jugs of laundry detergent from the store. A recycling system is great, but the flip side is that it may create a sense that it's o.k. to consume so much, or buy in a certain way, because the recycling system will take care of it, when we would be better off to change how we consume/buy. I also wonder about the impact of online shopping. Think of all the cardboard boxes, packing peanuts, etc. that are coming into the waste stream now, and it only seems to keep growing. Beth in MN

  18. I or should I say we have now watched all three episodes. As my husband and I were watching them our kids became very intrigued and before I knew it we were all watching.
    Fruit and veggies are always purchased either from the Farmer's Market, our small local fruit and veg shop and our very own backyard. I knew about the cosmetic aspect with the supermarkets however was still surprised at the amount of wastage - more than I ever imagined.
    So many things stood out for me however the biggest would have to be the soft plastics. I had no idea you could put them into the shopping bags for recycling. We use our own bags however still end up with some plastic. Working on this. In the meantime I've now placed a plastic Coles bag in the kitchen and everyone puts their soft plastics inside. I had no idea we used so much plastic. Little embarrassed to say but we almost filled a bag on the first day alone and I thought we were doing well. I've also printed the Redcycle poster. We will not need to put our bin out for collection every week now.
    Thank you so much for bringing this wonderful program to our attention Rhonda. We have made instant changes and so many ideas and plans are coming. Best thing is the kids agree and were just as surprised by so many things as we were. I feel like I could write pages and pages about these programs.


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