History Of Wastefulness, The [The Compass]


01The History Of Wastefulness: Today's Trash Challenge2019010920190113 (WS)

Alexandra Spring explores how our relationship with rubbish has evolved over time, beginning on a boat, sailing across the Pacific, with Ocean Conservancy’s Chief Scientist George Leonard. Together, they discuss how trillions of micro plastic particles have created a sea-sized portion of plastic soup, and how poor waste management across the world has led to a garbage emergency.

The conversation continues with author Gay Hawkins, who believes an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude is shaping our psychological relationship with trash.

Then, Alexandra speaks to the photojournalist Kadir van Lohuizen, who has witnessed our human wasteful ways at six major dumps around the world. He shares how litter is not only destroying, but saving some local communities.

Producers: Chelsea Dickenson and Ben Cartwright

How our relationship with rubbish has evolved over time

The Compass - exploring our world.

02The History Of Wastefulness: Rubbish Through The Ages2019011620190120 (WS)

Alexandra Spring continues her exploration of how our relationship with rubbish has evolved through time at the foot of Monte Testaccio in Rome - a hill built of 53 million discarded olive oil amphorae, which were thrown away nearly 2000 years ago. She meets the architect Tom Rankin, who shares how this ‘dump’ is indicative of the Roman spirit to waste.

Moving through the decades, the historian Agnes Sandras takes Alexandra back to France in 1883, when Parisian Prefect Eugene Poubelle sparked public outcry by forcing citizens to buy a box in which they would place their waste. They discuss how this early form of a modern day ‘bin’, or ‘poubelle’ in French, shaped how people viewed litter.

Then, sharing her view on how our attitudes to waste have changed throughout the last century, professor of history Eiko Maruko Siniawer explains to Alexandra how a shift in ideology to embrace modern luxuries saw waste spiralling out of control at the end of the World War Two.

Producers: Chelsea Dickenson and Ben Cartwright.

(Photo: A woman holds pieces of ancient amphorae at Monte di Coccio alias Monte Testaccio ( Mountain of Crock), in Rome. Credit: Getty Images)

Three historical landmarks that shaped modern attitudes to waste

The Compass - exploring our world.

03The History Of Wastefulness: The Tipping Point2019012320190127 (WS)

After exploring our wasteful past and the reality of today’s trash challenge, Australian journalist Alexandra Spring asks if we are on the tipping point of a rubbish free future.

Alexandra joins blogger Kathryn Kellogg to find out more about San Francisco’s growing zero waste ambitions. Encased in one single mason jar, Kathryn describes the tiny amount of waste she created over two years and how living without a trace has changed her life.

Then, Alexandra meets the inventor Veena Sahajwalla, who shares her belief that we should consider our rubbish to be a resource for the future. As Alex discovers, this attitude and Veena’s engineering skills have stopped millions of tyres from ending up in rubbish dumps, and could lead to cities around the world being built from recycled materials.

An Audio Always Production for BBC World Service. Produced by Chelsea Dickenson and Ben Cartwright.

Image: A jar full of all the garbage blogger Kathryn Kellogg threw away in two years (Credit: Audio Always)

Could the future be rubbish-free?

The Compass - exploring our world.