I watched an episode of Channel 4’s Dumped the other day, which is a bizarre hybrid of Big Brother, Scrapheap Challenge, and some kind of half-baked eco-experiment. A group of mis-matched attention-seekers are sent to live in a rubbish dump for two and a half weeks, living off what other people throw away, a bit like extreme Wombles.
The whole premise of “let’s show some people a rubbish dump and shock them into recycling a bit more” was horribly patronising. Well, until you realised that some of the contestants are such unrepenting thickies that they didn’t even realise landfill sites existed, and presumably thought their rubbish was magically vanished away by some kind of refuse pixie.
While it is shocking to see just how much of our countryside is covered in rubbish that could be very easily recycled and reused, I’m wary about this kind of programming. There’s too many shows throwing the extreme end of eco-living at unresponsive people for comedic effect, making people fear that environmental living can only be achieved by effectively becoming hippies in tents who use bales of hay for toilets. Where are the programmes that depict the relatively easy changes people can do to reduce their environmental impact and help the planet, rather than hectoring selfish fashion models, semi-pro footballers, installation artists and other assorted pricks into building a compost toilet for the sake of cheap entertainment?