GREEN TELEVISION HAS NEVER BEEN SO MEAN AND MESSY
Four-part recycling competition series, Dumped, premieres on BBC AMERICA
With words like freegan and freecycle popping up in the language, a reality competition where contestants make use of other people's trash is entirely of the moment. In Dumped, 11 wasteful consumers learn how to recycle � the hard way � while living in a dump, scavenging. Green television has never been so mean and messy, as 11 competitors face a number of challenges to demonstrate just how resourceful they can be. There's another green concept in this series � the contestants who make it to the finale split $40,000 in cash.
Dumped premieres Sunday, March 9, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Tune in for a marathon of the entire series Sunday, April 6, at 11:00 a.m. ET/ 8:00 a.m. PT.
Every year, the average British person throws out over 1,000 lbs. of trash, including $800 worth of food, with just a quarter being recycled. Most of the rest ends up in landfill, putting the UK in the bottom three European nations for recycling, with the Dutch and Germans recycling more than twice as much. The average American generates even more garbage. At four lbs. of solid trash per day, Americans are the number one global trash offenders*. Why is so little being done by government, councils and business � as well as individuals � to stop this waste of resources, and what can be done about it?
This thought-provoking series, Dumped, challenges 11 participants to live relatively normal lives using what others throw away. Like most people, many of the participants have never given a second thought to what they chuck out. But they'll soon be face-to-face with the reality of Britain's rubbish mountains, and also the simple steps we can all take to make a difference.
One man's trash really is another man's treasure in this reality series. But will three weeks with other people's rubbish change the way they live their lives when they go back home?
Dumped is an Outline production for Channel 4, distributed by BBC Worldwide. The Series Producer is Iain Hollands and the Executive Producer is Helen Hawken.
BBC AMERICA brings audiences a new generation of award-winning television featuring news with a uniquely global perspective, provocative dramas, razor-sharp comedies and life-changing makeovers. BBC AMERICA pushes the boundaries to deliver high quality, highly addictive and eminently watchable programming to viewers who demand more. BBC AMERICA is distributed by Discovery Networks. It is available on digital cable and satellite TV in more than 60 million homes. For up-to-the-minute information on BBC AMERICA, forthcoming U.S. premieres, art work and news from the channel, log on to www.press.bbcamerica.com.
Episode one � season premiere
11 people arrive at their new home in the middle of tons of waste, right next to an active landfill. But they have no time to whine. They need to build their own shelter out of rubbish and get a fire going for heat and cooking. They are given a pile of food representing the $800 worth � much of it perfectly edible � that the average British adult throws away every year. But they'll have to make it last, and without refrigeration much of it will go bad soon. A visit to the top of the active landfill site gives them a reality check about the sheer scale of what we all throw away every day. And with one of the group already deciding to leave, can any of the others last for three whole weeks?
Dumped premieres Sunday, March 9, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
With shelter and food sorted out, and one of the participants already gone, it's time to reveal the group's next challenge � Rob the eco-expert is taking their toilets away. Flushing toilets use huge quantities of drinking-quality water, so the group will need to make themselves a composting toilet. Using just a chair, toilet seat, bath tub and barrel from the trash heap, plus straw and earth, they can now produce compost. The only problem is that someone has to maintain the toilet. The volunteers also discover the value of the rubbish around them. Every day a 40-ton dump truck drops off trash and it's up to them to scavenge piles of aluminium, steel cans, radiators and copper pipes to sell to a scrap merchant in order to buy items to improve their quality of life on the dump. But can they tell the difference between genuine rubbish and things worth salvaging?
Episode two premieres Sunday, March 16, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Just like in real life, tensions are beginning to build between the workers and the shirkers. Green survivalist, Selena, is angry about unwashed plates that could attract flies and rats. Singer, Jason, marine engineer, Ian, and recycling campaigner, Lawrence, are frustrated by the lack of effort shown by some of the group to help improve their standard of living. Aaron, who's a student, and Jermaine, a soccer player, want to take it easy. Eco expert, Rob, encourages the group to do more than survive. Jason builds a solar shower from a water butt and piping, while model, Sasha, creates a spa with a hot tub and sauna, despite never having hammered a nail before. There are more disagreements when it comes to spending the money they made from salvaging materials, and just as they set to work building a more permanent structure, there's a huge storm. Will anyone choose this moment to leave?
Episode three premieres Sunday, March 23, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Episode four � series finale
It's the final week and there's an unpleasant task for someone � tending to the composting facility. But it's a good opportunity for two arguing participants to bury the hatchet. Meanwhile, the dump truck returns and empties its disgusting load onto the dump for the team to go through. Even with head-to-toe protection it's a disgusting job wading through the trash to find things to recycle. It's too much for some, but it shows how much easier it is if people sort out their own waste. Some people find they've been kidding themselves about how green they are. They're all thinking about how they will change their lives when they go back home.
Episode four premieres Sunday, March 30, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Were the participants living on a real landfill site?
The program was filmed at the Beddington Farm landfill and recycling site on the outskirts of Croydon. The land they were living on was right next to the active landfill itself. It would have been impossible to live on top of the current landfill site because of the dangers posed by the gases that landfill sites emit. To enable the group to live there, the production team were given special permission by the Environment Agency to create their own dump out of real waste. Before dumping began, a specially engineered clay pad was laid down on top of the land to ensure that the ground would not be contaminated by any of the trash.
Was it safe for them to live there?
Precautions had to be taken to ensure they made it to the end safely. Everyone, both on and off camera, had to have tetanus, polio and hepatitis vaccinations in advance. On arriving at the dump, the group were issued with protective gear � Kevlar gloves, protective boots, even face masks. It was impossible to know exactly what was in the rubbish they would be sifting through, so they always had to wear the appropriate gear when scavenging.
The major worry was people getting ill. They were living and cooking surrounded by tons of trash, they had no idea what wildlife was scuttling around in there, and their toilet facilities were basic to say the least. Staying clean was a constant struggle for the group and there was frequent tension between them over keeping their living areas clean. Everyone knew that it would only take one person to let the side down and a stomach bug could easily sweep through the camp.
What kind of trash was on the dump and how much of it was there?
Initially, about 1000 tons of trash was used to build the dump that our participants would live on. In addition, most days during their stay a dump truck would arrive with a fresh delivery of trash for the participants to sift through for useful items.
The dump was intended to reflect the wide variety of waste produced in the UK. As a result, it didn't just feature household waste, which is actually just a small part of Britain's overall waste. Construction waste represents a far bigger chunk, so as a result there was plenty of construction waste on the dump. The group found some of this very useful when building � timber offcuts, pallets, scrap metal, old doors and windows were all eagerly seized upon.
There were also items in the dump that wouldn't normally be found on a landfill site. Scrapped cars, paint cans, tires, refrigerators and televisions aren't allowed in landfills, so the production asked for permission from the Environment Agency to have these items in the dump during filming as long as they were stored correctly and then disposed of appropriately after the filming.
Can anyone just go and live on a dump?
No. Our dump was a designated area set aside for filming. It had strict boundaries and the production team had to agree strict rules with the waste management company, Viridor, and the Environment Agency. Waste management sites are potentially very dangerous places, and anyone attempting to gain access to one who doesn't work there would be trespassing. While the program heartily endorses the idea of trying to re-use or recycle as much of our waste as possible, the show does not suggest that living on an actual dump is a good idea!
Did the site smell?
Yes. When the wind blew in one direction it carried across the smell of the landfill � a stench of rotting trash. When the wind changed direction it got even worse, because on the other side of the site was a sewage treatment plant. Even with no wind the participants were surrounded by 1,000 tons of waste � and their own composting toilets.
Did the group have access to clean water?
Yes. It would have been impossible for them, with the resources they had, to filter rainwater and make it safe for drinking. They were provided with a drinking water tank from which they could fill cans for their camp. For health and safety reasons the group also had access to one hot water tap for personal hygiene. Minimizing the chance of infection was a major issue on the dump so access to hot water was essential. They constructed a place to wash up out of an old stainless steel kitchen sink, so they could transfer the hot water from the tap to their washing up station. Later, the group attempted to build a solar water heater to minimize their reliance on the hot water tap.
How did they go to the toilet?
Initially, while they concentrated on building a shelter and settling into their new home, they were given two portable toilets. However, once the shelter was built the toilets were taken away and it was revealed that they had to build their own sanitation requirements. They were all quite horrified at the prospect of having to deal with their own human waste. But the group got into the spirit and built a couple of composting toilets. Each week, their waste needed stirring, so the group held a competition with the loser reluctantly having to take responsibility for this job.
Was there a nurse or doctor on call?
Living on a dump is potentially very dangerous so a medic was on the site for the duration of the filming. Although he was called on five or six times a day, the majority of what he had to deal with during the three weeks was cuts and blisters, thankfully.
What did they eat?
It is estimated that supermarkets waste up to 500,000 tons of food each year, mostly because it's nearing its sell-by date. Much of this food is still perfectly edible, so the production approached all the major supermarket chains to see if they would donate food they were throwing out. Even though the food asked for was after its best-before date but just before its sell-by date (it is illegal to sell or give food to people that is past its sell-by date), the supermarkets all declined. Some had legitimate reasons (some of this food is donated to charity) but the majority would not tell us why. With that option gone, the producers learned from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) that the average British person throws away a shocking $800 worth of food a year. So, for the first week, the group received $800 worth of food to live on for three weeks, so they could physically see just how much edible food is wasted each year. With no refrigeration, they had to use the fresh stuff first, and then ate canned and dried food for the remaining time.
Why on earth would people stay in such an awful environment?
The people who took part had a variety of motivations. Some of them cared passionately about the environment and wanted to make a public statement about that. Some of them wanted to be pushed to the limit in a difficult challenge. But there were others for whom neither of those would have been enough. In order to get people from a variety of backgrounds, and not just green evangelists, the program offered a reward to anyone who stuck it out for the full three weeks. There were no evictions, no one got voted out, and they were all free to leave at any point. The money was an incentive to ensure that at least some of them would still be there at the end of three gruelling weeks. The size of the reward was $40,000 to be shared equally between those that stuck it out to the bitter end.