28 June 2017

The Throwaway Society


Women are relentlessly targeted as potential consumers of wasteful items, such as disposable deodorant wipes, household cleaning wipes and over-packaged 'convenience' foods. Even our clothes seem to be made to be thrown away after just a few wears.

Women's Environmental Network (WEN) has long campaigned to prevent waste. Previous successes include 'wrapping is a rip-off', encouraging consumers to reject excess packaging, and initiating the Waste Minimisation Act, which gives local authorities powers to promote measures to stop rubbish being created. Advertisers constantly exhort us to consume more single-use and 'convenience' products. But, said Charlotte Walker, Waste Prevention Officer for WEN: "Throwaway items don't seem so 'convenient' after all when you think how they're adding to pressure for more landfill sites or waste incinerators. I get frustrated when I bring home the shopping (in my re-usable canvas bag) and find a good proportion is packaging that goes straight in the bin, or when an appliance breaks down or a piece of furniture wears out after a couple of years and it can't be repaired but must be replaced. We'll need three planets to support us if we go on consuming at this rate, but the current set up of our consumer society doesn't make it easy for people like me who want to reduce their consumption."

Last November the Government Strategy Unit (SU) published 'Waste Not, Want Not', a review and recommendations for tackling Britain's growing waste mountain. Charlotte Walker, said: "The Government's response is a start, but not nearly bold enough to turn around our throwaway culture. WEN is glad the Government has recognised the significance of real nappies in shifting behaviour. Once parents realise they can reduce their bin by half if they stop using disposable nappies, they start thinking about other aspects of their lives where they are creating unnecessary waste. We also welcome the backing for home-composting, and work with supermarkets to reduce the amount of waste entering the waste stream - but they need targets.

"A much more radical approach is needed to shift this country away from its throwaway culture," said Charlotte. "We need targets to reduce the total amount of waste produced, not just slow the growth rate. We need incentives for industry to stop making and selling so many disposable, short-life and over-packaged products in the first place, and instead start making goods that last and that can be re-filled, re-used, returned and only recycled at the very end of their life. And we need clear targets to drive local authority efforts to reduce waste."

WEN is a national membership charity that educates, informs and empowers women and men who care about the environment and campaigns on environmental and health issues from a women's perspective. It runs the Real Nappy Project to raise awareness about the environmental impact of nappies and the availability of modern, fitted cloth nappies. Nappies make up 2-4% of household waste (source: Defra) but half the contents of the bin for a household with one baby (source: LARAC). WEN also runs 'More from Less', a project working with councils and communities to develop practical initiatives to reduce waste.

Women's Environmental Network
PO Box 30626 London E1 1TZ
Tel: 020 7481 9004
Fax: 020 7481 9144

parents information

Your spring ABC is here

Each year the spring issue of ABC Magazine is published on the 1st March valid until the 1st July, our summer issue is published on the 1st July valid until 1st November when our winter issue takes its place, valid from 1st November through to the 1st March.

Where to get your free copy

The best place to pick up your free copy of ABC Magazine is via one of our advertisers who are listed in our Shopping & Services Directory. Please select from the county list below. Alternatively, ABC Magazine is available to pick up from libraries, hospitals, baby clinics, playgroups, shops and selected supermarkets.


Annual ABC Subscriptions are available and make a lovely gift for new mums.

Sussex   Surrey  
ABC Sussex ABC Surrey