A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this environmentally themed reality series -- which shows families how they can reduce their carbon footprint and live a greener lifestyle -- makes its point by identifying the financial impact that less-green habits can have on household budgets. There's not much iffy content for parents to worry about, aside from the prominent position of a couple of corporate/product logos (Brita and Google). That said, the subject matter may not appeal to young tweens, though older viewers interested environmental issues and/or green living are likely to find the show interesting and/or inspiring.
What's the story?
WA$TED cracks down on families who are increasing the size of their carbon footprint by squandering paper, electricity, and other resources on a day-to-day basis. After monitoring their behavior, host Annabelle Gurwitch and sidekick Holter Graham challenge these \"eco criminals\" to curb their environmentally unfriendly habits and reduce the size of their carbon footprint in just three weeks. The prize? A cash payment representing the exact amount that their new eco-friendly lifestyle has saved them -- oh, and the chance to make a positive contribution to the environment, of course.
Is it any good?
Wa$ted acts as a kind of mirror by allowing viewers to see a bit of themselves and their own "ungreen" behavior in the daily habits of the featured families. As a result, people may be inspired by how easy it is to make changes. The hosts share important information about the impact that even a single family can have on the overall environment, offering concrete tips for how to reduce waste without significantly altering your lifestyle. The show also demonstrates how carbon footprints are calculated and provides images to help people envision the real impact that their behavior is having on the planet. And the end of each episode concretely demonstrates the huge difference that making small changes can have on the amount of waste a family produces.
Unfortunately, the show's focus on the financial impact that each family's habits have on their household budget -- and the cash they can potentially win at the end of the episode -- dilutes some of these important messages. Sure, the financial incentive is a practical way of encouraging people to change their bad habits, but it also sends the message that people should be interested in reducing waste primarily because of what it costs them, rather than what it costs the planet. Meanwhile, corporate sponsors' logos are prominently visible in some of the show's graphics. Still, despite these issues, Wa$ted provides a lot of important information. Young tweens may not be drawn to it, but older viewers looking to become more green will find that it has a lot to offer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about ways to reduce waste and become more eco-friendly. How big do you think your family's carbon footprint is? How can you reduce it? Do you think it's always feasible to live "green" in today's world? Families can also discuss the media's impact on the green movement around the world. Do you think shows like this one help inspire people to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, or are they just another form of entertainment?