Small actions can lead to big changes, and it's time for Australians to collectively change the way we think about rubbish and join the war on waste. Last year's thought-provoking series War on Waste shone a spotlight on the staggering amount of waste Australians produce as a nation. Host and provocateur Craig Reucassel showed us, among other things, that size doesn't matter when it comes to buying bananas; encouraged us to BYO coffee cups; confronted politicians with his giant ball of plastic bags, challenging them to ban the bag; and explained why fast fashion is not fashionable at all. The series got Australians thinking, talking and, more importantly acting, as efforts to reduce our individual waste footprint were embraced around the country.
But the war is far from over. Craig returns in a new, three-part series to keep the conversation flowing, highlighting the issues and providing tips to stop unnecessary waste ending up in landfill and polluting our oceans. Craig tackles our reliance on plastic and encourages us to reduce our plastic footprint, especially single-use plastic items that end up in our waterways, oceans and marine life. Two of the biggest offenders are plastic bottles and straws.
A giant-sized plastic-filled footprint created on Manly beach highlights the shocking amount of plastic packaging we dispose of every minute of every day across Australia, and Craig explores just when our obsession with plastic water bottles began. Australians use an estimated 10 million straws per day. Craig meets a young waste warrior and the brains behind the #strawnomore movement. Together they challenge pubs and fast food chains to ban the straw from their venues.
With technology permeating our lives, e-waste is one of the fastest growing types of waste in the world. Laptops, mobile phones and electronic goods are also responsible for the high levels of toxicity in landfill. Craig endeavours to find out where our e-waste ends up and provides tips and advice for families to reduce their household e-waste footprint. Food waste is still a massive issue in Australia and not just what we throw out from home.
Craig goes undercover to see the shocking amount of food we throw out when we eat out and explains why it's so bad for the environment. He encourages us all to stop food waste. Restaurants, cafes and fast food outlets also have a big role to play in reducing food waste. Craig examines some clever initiatives to help stop the unseen large-scale food waste in the commercial world.
One of the Australian Curriculum's three cross-curricular priorities is sustainability, described as the way of living in the present that avoids compromising the needs of future generations. Included in this concept are actions that seek to protect the environment and create a world that is more ecologically and socially just; and learning about sustainability covering the interdependent environmental, social, cultural and economic systems. This aims to inform students and assist them in designing actions that can lead to a sustainable future.
War on Waste explores these systems, and the actions of individuals within them, by examining the waste and recycling industry; the role of the corporate, hospitality and retail sectors; and the unregulated e-trade industry.
Furthermore, War on Waste touches on another cross-curriculum priority: Australia's relationship with Asia in its examination of the Australian – Chinese recycling crisis. The consequences of contaminated recycling product no longer having a value for councils and recyclers and the strategies Australians are developing in response are considered across several episodes in the series.
Within these broader curriculum concerns are several key learning areas from Years 4–10, as well as senior subjects that are of specific relevance to War on Waste. These include:
- Business studies and economics
- Civics and citizenship
In the Geography curriculum, War on Waste corresponds with students' study of various forms of environmental resource management. In Year 7, students consider water as a significant resource, which is subject to various hazards, including those created by humans. Students also study the liveability of places and strategies that can enhance liveability. In Year 8, students explore human causes and effects on landscape degradation, and strategies to protect significant landscapes. The Year 9 students' focus on the production of food and materials and the impact of this on the environment aligns with War on Waste's close examination of the retail and hospitality sectors' efforts to deal with food waste. Students in Year 10 examine human-induced environmental changes in further depth, such as pollution, including coastal aquatic environments, and consider how such environmental change is managed on government, community and individual levels. Senior Geography also includes a relevant unit on sustainable places, which considers the effects of urbanisation on a global scale, and its impact on the environment.
War on Waste is appropriate to show in primary-school Science, with teachers using their discretion of which parts to show, and adapting the questions and activities for the relevant age level. In Year 4, students investigate material and manufacturing, as well as methods of waste management, and how human activity can change the environment and cause loss of habitat. In Year 7 Science, students learn about the earth's resources, and the way in which science can be used to find solutions to contemporary issues, including sustainability. Students also study ecosystems in Year 9, including how such systems respond to change, and how these changes can be managed. The senior Science: Earth and Environmental Science further investigate these ideas in its unit on earth resources. Students specifically examine the effects of resource extraction, consumption and waste removal on communities and the environment.
War on Waste raises some important questions regarding consumption that are relevant to the Economics and Business Studies curriculum. For instance, students study the interactions of consumers and producers in a market environment in Year 7. In Year 8, students consider how markets operate, the distribution of resources, and the rights and responsibilities of consumers and businesses. Students return to this in Year 10 to study the factors that influence these financial decisions, as well as the long- and short-term consequences of these decisions. War on Waste can provide a relevant case study in this regard.
In Civics and Citizenship, students consider the responsibility of citizens in Australia. Year 8 students examine how Australians can participate in our democracy through contacting elected representatives, using lobby groups and direct action. War on Waste offers students the opportunity to engage in direct action themselves, by contacting various corporations and government representatives. In Year 9, students consider the role of the media in shaping attitudes and political choices. This is an opportunity to study the effects of season 1 of War on Waste and predict how season two might instigate further change in the consumption habits of Australians.
In Year 10 History, schools have the option of choosing an in-depth study on the environment movement. Here students learn about how the concept of sustainability developed, the government’s response to environmental threats since the 1960s, and the different historical campaigns that have raised the awareness of the public around environmental issues. War on Waste provides an excellent contemporary example that brings the unit up to the present day.