War on waste

Following ABC's recent "War on Waste" television series, we wanted to know more about what everyday people do to reduce the amount of waste their households produce. We asked you what you thought, how easy it is to do, and what difference you feel you are making.

The program certainly had an impact, and uncovered some strong feelings about recycling and waste reduction. Clearly it tapped into an issue that for many is extremely important.

“Oooooooh.........I love this Topic and have been waiting for a hearty Discussion in which I can contribute and voice My opinion......!!!!"

For most, reducing waste is an everyday routine. Whether it's making good use of council recycling bins, taking re-usable bags to the supermarket, or using a worm-farm to dispose of food scraps, minimising waste is already well-ingrained in many people's households.

“I recycle everything I can. I buy clothes from op shops & donate my old ones. I renovate furniture, don't buy new things. & have things repaired, not thrown out to buy new ones"

However it's not always an easy thing to do. With time pressures and confusion about what can and can't be recycled, good intentions do not always translate into action. Doing the right thing takes organisation and dedication.

"I was very pro-active changing things around in my recycling habits but soon fell back into my old ways."

"I believe it is a matter of commitment. Once the mind is made up, then it is simply a matter of organisation & then sticking to a routine."

The biggest issue when it comes to reducing waste is that while people are doing what they can, the biggest contributors – large companies – are not pulling their weight. Through excess packaging, disposal of excess food, or other wasteful business practices, corporate Australia is seen to be ignoring the war on waste.

"Why does it always have to go back to the individual to try and make a difference, when it is really the fault of the manufacturers. They choose the cheapest packaging and always supply small packs of everything nothing in bulk."

"As usual is it is the big players; governments, big business, supermarket giants, fast food chains, etc, who make a massive impact and create a huge amount of waste but whose only concern is the bottom line who need to take more action, or be forced to take more action."

So it seems that Australians are already fighting this war and they want companies to join them in the battle, but they aren't listening. The question that we should be asking corporate Australia is this: what are you doing to join your customers in fighting the war on waste?


    Last reply: 22nd Oct 2019 / 28 replies / Post by Cafestudy Manager

Member comments


Posted by: Mikaren
Posted: 7th Sep 2017

Mikaren says: I always always say no to plastic bags these days. I have my own recycled bags for the normal groceries and for the cold items. Even if I go to the chemist I won't use their bags. Fruit and veg I put straight into an environmentally friendly bag so I think I've made a good start Reply


Posted by: BILL
Posted: 16th Sep 2017

BILL says: I no longer wrap garbage in plastic bags. I pick up the dog poo with a plastic bag and put the poo straight into the garbage tin unwrapped. I hardly throw out any rubbish into the garbage bin .I recycle most things that can be recycled and any green waste I put into the green waste bin . I also collect clothing I find on the street and donate it to Diabetes Australia. It takes very little effort to sort recyclable materials from food waste and green waste.
In places in Europe like Germany , households have several bins for recyclable material . There is a separate bin for green glass ,brown glass and clear glass. Also in Japan there are separate bins in places like the castle at Kanazawa for people to put recyclable materials. There is even a man sitting near the bins at Kanazawa to make sure tourists put things in the right bin. In Holland there is a zero waste policy.
Bill Dowd Reply


Posted by: jtmorri
Posted: 18th Sep 2017

jtmorri says: I don't buy packaged snacks, chocolates, lollies, soft drinks, cakes, biscuits. I often leave shops without a bag. We eat a lot of fresh produce. Any plastic bags we do get I repurpose in the bin as a liner. Reply


Posted by: chickenman
Posted: 31st Oct 2017

chickenman says: society is itself a major cause of waste; not much can be recycled anymore, can't even trade-in old items. ( tv , computer , printers etc. ) we have become a throw-away society. plastic bags , plastic bottles, plastic cutlery and "crockery", etc. and to find and get items to places that do reuse them is sometimes a mission in itself. Reply


Posted by: anglesea
Posted: 12th Nov 2017

anglesea says: I feel terribly guilty not doing very much at all. We still buy too much, still get too much in the way of excess packaging and still waste food. On my to do list Reply


Posted by: Goulah
Posted: 5th May 2018

anglesea says: I feel terribly guilty not doing very much at all. We still buy too much, still get too much in the way of excess packaging and still waste food. On my to do list

Goulah says: I too try but still have a long way to go. Have managed to cut back but... Reply

Bula Fiji

Posted by: Bula Fiji
Posted: 30th Dec 2017

Bula Fiji says: We were already a waste conscious household with 2 worm farms, 2 rotary compost bins and a commitment to the council recycling collection. However the program caused us to go out and buy keep cups for our take away coffees, and we have started a new commitment to storing and then returning weekly every scrap of soft plastic to Coles or woolworths. I was very disturbed by craig's tracking device in the soft plastics that ended up in landfill and for that reason I favour shopping at woolworths over Coles. I am also buying "seconds" type fruit and veggies wherever I can to demonstrate that our household does not demand restricted aesthetic standards for our produce. This is more wallet friendly as well. Whilst I agree that the large businesses are creating mountains of waste without taking any responsibility for addressing the problem, I don't want this to be an excuse for individuals not to do what they can. Plus individuals can vote with their feet away from the major polluters like McDonald's, hungry jacks, etc. We live in the country and I'm seriously tired of seeing the branded rubbish on the roadside. Reply


Posted by: bernice31420334
Posted: 10th Apr 2018

Bula Fiji says: We were already a waste conscious household with 2 worm farms, 2 rotary compost bins and a commitment to the council recycling collection. However the program caused us to go out and buy keep cups...

bernice31420334 says: I think we as consumers need to find a way to determine who is doing better at recycling . There is too much misinformation in the media to make really good decisions. Reply


Posted by: Ashar
Posted: 27th Feb 2018

Ashar says: It is high time that manufacturers and suppliers took more responsibility for the goods that they make and made sure that everything they produce is recycled. The so called 'on the go' marketing campaign by advertisers should be abandoned as it only encourages consumers to eat junk food, be wasteful and litter. The trend to copy everything American is a bad reflection on Australian society. Takeaway food and drink should be discouraged. Reply


Posted by: chickenman
Posted: 6th Mar 2018

chickenman says: we now live in a "throw-away" society. it is only in "modern" times that recycling has become an issue.
take printers for example; how many printers become landfill every year because it is cheaper to buy a
new one, than it is to replace ink cartridges. also baby nappies. people use to use cloth nappies, flush the
pooh and wash the nappy for reuse. now it all becomes landfill. excrement and all. Reply


Posted by: dirtbag
Posted: 14th Mar 2018

dirtbag says: A floating plastic island. Sorry but it's not me. Reply


Posted by: Ant450
Posted: 21st Mar 2018

Ant450 says: I'm slowly making more and more changes to the way I shop and eat so as to reduce my waste footprint. I eat barely any meat anymore, and purchase my vegetables through a local organic farm that does a weekly subscription box (so everything is grown sustainably, ethically, locally, and is seasonal and not packaged in any plastic). I rarely need more vegetables, but if so I get them from a local farmer's market. I tailor my recipes to suit what I have on hand, including various bits we normally would throw out (e.g. making pesto with carrot tops, freezing a stash of vegetable scraps to make stock). For items like nuts/grains/dried fruit/flours I buy from the local bulk foods shop and bring all my own refillable jars (collected from food we've already eaten or bought from op shops if I come across a particularly cool one).

I now pretty much exclusively purchase second hand clothes (the exceptions being intimates, which I only purchase from companies that are practicing sustainable and environmentally friendly production methods).

I have lots of reusables. The regular ones like a keep cup, and reusable fabric bags and produce bags. I also use reusable sanitary items (Thinx period panties - it sounds like a gross idea but I am so so so glad I gave them a go). I did try a menstrual cup, and it was alright, but I am much more a fan of the underwear.

For toiletries and makeup, I am opting for plastic-free or DIY, or in cases where that's not possible I try to find brands using post-consumer recycled plastics. Reply


Posted by: Gerry
Posted: 4th May 2018

Gerry says: Just like stopping global warming it will never happen. Northern Territory just licenced a 100 + more fracking wells that pollute 24 hours a day. There are trillions of tons of waste all over the world and even if Australia stopped 100% which will never happen we are less that 0.5% of the problem. Reply


Posted by: joolsc7
Posted: 4th May 2018

joolsc7 says: I am extremely shocked by the amount of rubbish that Australians throw away. I have always recycled and reused everything I possibly could, grown a lot of my own fruit and vegetables and composted my food waste. I have also used my own shopping bags for many years and usually only have one small bag of rubbish to put in my bin each week. I do not buy bottled water or coffee in disposable cups.
Bring back the Bulk stores we had years ago where we could bring along our own containers and refill them with the basic food items we all use: no wasteful packaging to be disposed of.
If we want future generations to live in a clean and healthy environment, we all need to do whatever we can to achieve this and stop blaming others for the problem, whether it be lobbying the Government to put pressure on big companies to reduce the waste or simply being more aware of our own bad habits and what changes we can make. Reply


Posted by: Henna101
Posted: 4th May 2018

Henna101 says: Well replied. I love recycling. I do not waste anything.
So many things can be made out of recycled goods.
Love it Reply


Posted by: Goulah
Posted: 5th May 2018

Goulah says: At my local supermarket (which is Woolworths) I constantly ask if I can buy fruit and vegetables in “one person household sizes” and am told to buy large servings which are heavily packaged with lots of plastic.

In addition I would like to take my own containers for small vegetable purchases but am literally laughed at. Reply


Posted by: Genevra31399247
Posted: 6th May 2018

Genevra31399247 says: plastic is such a hot commodity when talking about waste but there is so much more we can be doing. It is time we take plastic found in dumps and oceans and repurpose it. for instance sterling it melting it down and reusing it. there is always going to be a need for plastic so why not create restrictions allowing the use of recycled plastic and creating company credits and incentives for them to do so. we have such a surplus of waste plastic. I am not sure of the specifics but I'm sure there is a surplus in the amount of used waste plastic that it could significantly reduce the environmental impact Reply


Posted by: socker
Posted: 18th May 2018

socker says: Our rubbish bin used for waste (not the recycle bin) often only has one shopping bag of household waste unless I have pruned the bushes then there will be more but is only green waste. We do have a worm farm that takes all our vegetable waste from the kitchen. Reply


Posted by: tsre0001
Posted: 31st May 2018

tsre0001 says: Great to see the news coverage this week of roads being built using recycled plastics and toner cartridges in Victoria. Exceedingly well done to those who developed this material. Hope we see more and more of these projects happening along with Government support and funds Reply


Posted by: Narelle31377557
Posted: 21st Jun 2018

Narelle31377557 says: I love to recycle. I have found the website Terracycle - you can recycle things such as tooth brushes and tooth paste etc through them. I love it !! Flora and Fauna are also a good one, you can purchase things to aid you with your recycling. I have just bought steel straws, vegetable bags, bin liner, bags and DISH CLOTHS !!


Posted by: mustang6000
Posted: 3rd Jul 2018

mustang6000 says: I heartily agree with most of these comments regarding excess packaging and waste in large corporations and government departments. The only way commercial interests will take note is if the public votes with their spending and takes it elsewhere.

Another concern is the recent news that some councils will be dumping the collected recycling into landfill due to increased costs associated with having it shipped overseas for sorting & processing.

What would be the difficulties & costs of converting coal burning power stations into refuse burning incinerators to produce power. Would this not go a long way to solving the excess waste issue as well as reduce our reliance on mining and burning coal for power generation.

I believe that the concept is being looked at in several European countries, so why not here and let Australia be at the forefront of the war on waste.


Posted by: BILL
Posted: 2nd Aug 2018

BILL says: I have been fighting the war against waste for years since I was about nine years old. When I was in Primary School , I used to collect soft drink bottles and receive three cents refund on them. I collected a dollars worth one day at Cronulla beach.
In the last twenty five years , I have sorted through our domestic rubbish and put all the recyclable material into the Brimbank Council recycle bin. I also put all our vegetable scraps and other compostable material into a compost bin. I also collect aluminium cans and other scrap metal and sell it to a scrap metal dealer.
Bill Dowd Reply

Catherine 31454437

Posted by: Catherine 31454437
Posted: 16th Nov 2018

Catherine 31454437 says: I loved this show! I have always recycled what I could, but now have added in soft plastics too. I also watched a documentary about fast fashion and now only buy ethical clothing or from OP shops. Best show ever!! Reply


Posted by: jobgenie63
Posted: 4th Dec 2018

jobgenie63 says: We have always tried to recycle everything. I was taught to pass on old toys and books to charity and we always contributed to op shops when we were finished with items as kids. Living with my Nan who went through the whole ration book issue and trying to stretch meagre food supplies for her 5 kids during WW2, ingrained this in me. We still eat every leftover, recycle cans and bottles and do not dump rubbish at the tip. We manage to find people to give clothes to or if we buy new items, we give away the old one. My parents however have bought every appliance and thrown heaps of stuff on the garbage at the dump. I guess it is all about the perspective you grew up with, isn't it? Reply


Posted by: Homestead1
Posted: 3rd May 2019

Homestead1 says: We recycle as much as we can including plastics which we return to the stores. We use our yellow bin to recycle paper, cardboard and everything that has the recycle logo on it. Foodstuffs including vegetable peel etc is composted. Prior to our shower and kitchen wWe really liked the show and hope to see more series in future. Great initiativeater coming hot we collect the cold water and put it onthe garden which saves water. Reply


Posted by: relsforum
Posted: 21st Jul 2019

relsforum says: We recycle everything we can. We use cloth grocery bags and I buy loose fruit and vegetables where possible and place them in white hession like bags which have been great. Brought on EBay and were cheap. They weigh nothing so you can leave them in the bags when weighing at the register. Reply


Posted by: funnysag
Posted: 30th Aug 2019

funnysag says: I will always recycle and compost food waste as it makes sense to me and I am pleased to see that more people are recycling. I wish the supermarkets would do more to reduce waste and educate the public.
Also it would be great if The War on Waste would come to rural and country towns to educate the people more. Reply


Posted by: chickenman
Posted: 22nd Oct 2019

chickenman says: let's face it; we now live in a "throw-away" society where not much, if anything is repaired or has other uses. it would be great to eliminate "disposable" nappies and also go back to glass bottles that were returned for cleaning and reuse. plastic seems to be the biggest problem. next would be the laziness and arrogance of "people" who just drop their scraps wherever they are. ( the out of sight - no longer my problem ) syndrome. Reply

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