A few weeks ago while flipping channels, I caught a few minutes of ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover TV show. I will admit that when the show first started years ago, I did watch a few episodes as it was kind of interesting and heart warming. But I quickly got bored and stopped watching – until this last time. I tuned in right as the old house was being destroyed by bulldozers and hundreds of people wielding axes, hammers and crowbars. It was almost as if the producers of the show had found a whole mess of crazy people and told them to wreck this poor old house to the ground. Perfectly good sinks and toilets were smashed, healthy 2X4’s were cut down, and windows were smashed with whatever a person could get their hands on. At the end of all this madness, a giant pile of rubble was left to be carted off to a landfill somewhere. It was so sad, but even more so it was so incredibly wasteful.
In addition to the waste that is created, the show builds these gigantic mansions that A. don’t even fit into the neighborhood they are in, reducing their resale value and B. are so big that I can only begin to fathom the price of the utilities every month. If a family is poor before they get into the mansion, just how are they supposed to pay for it after the crew leaves? Not only can they not afford them, but they are not even educated in how to go about trying to do so. There have been stories about a home in Atlanta in foreclosure, how the Leomiti family got a new house and the Higgins orphans were left with nothing, and how when crews demolished the Byers’ old house, the old mortgage still stood – “There’s still $250,000 left on the old mortgage that they have to pay, and then they have to pay property taxes on the new value of home because it’s a lot more than the old home was,” explained Umpqua Bank Manager, Heather Rogers. Not everything is as rosy as the show let’s you to believe after Ty gives that grand tour in the last 15 minutes.
But let’s get back to the waste of materials for a second – unless there is something the show is not telling us, all this stuff goes to a landfill. We watch it get destroyed, and broken windows, sinks and toilets are of no use to anyone…so I am guessing that they don’t recycle any of it. Places like the Habitat ReStore are amazing in that it gives homeowners (or hobbyists, for that matter) a way to get recycled doors, windows, sinks, toilets, wood, roofing materials, appliances, etc. for a lot less than new. This not only provides money to the Habitat for Humanity organization but also keeps all that stuff out of the landfills. It only makes sense to recycle and/or reuse everything that can be salvaged from a construction site, right? I think the producers are more concerned with the wow factor of people destroying things than they are about the environment, which is really too bad – they could be setting an example for the millions of people who watch the show every week.
I do understand that the show does a lot of good for incredible people who are having a rough time. Couples who take in foster kids while living in a mold-infested trailer or families with special-needs kids who cannot afford to adapt their home get a lot of help from the show; I get that. But I just don’t understand the need to be so wasteful by breaking everything in an old house and then building a house that the needy family can afford. This is why I think the show is probably the most wasteful one on TV, and one I wish they would take steps to improve. To do so much good while doing so much bad just is not right.
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