We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here

The Secret Life of Rubbish

Episode 1

Episode 1

not currently available
Add this to your watchlist to find out when it is available via broadcast or catch-up.


The shift from a wartime make-do-and-mend culture to the disposable consumer society of today is detailed with evocative archive footage, interviews with old binmen and a jaunty soundtrack. Viewing the birth of modern Britain from “the back end”, modernity just looks messier and messier as changes in shopping habits, the creation of “planned obsolescence” and an increase in affluence produced ever rising tides of rubbish.

If you need a solution, look to Birmingham in the 1950s, which was in the vanguard of environmental thinking, disposing of rubbish with hardly any waste products.


Part one of two. The evolution of waste collection in Britain, beginning with a look back at the post-Second World War years, when household rubbish mainly comprised ash. The Clean Air Act of 1956 put an end to coal fires, but the improving economy and the arrival of supermarkets in the 1960s marked a turning point, not only for the profusion of packaged goods and therefore refuse, but also for the explosion of consumerism.

Cast & Crew

Director Chris Durlacher
Executive Producer Emma Hindley
Producer Chris Durlacher

Education Documentary

Have Your Say What did you think of The Secret Life of Rubbish?

view all comments (0)