Why The Block is a Waste

the block 2017

I was sitting watching The Block last night and it hit me that I could not continue to post about it this season…..when the season started this year, I wrote about how I was looking forward to seeing if there were some sustainable inclusions, given some of the contestants usual green lifestyles, and the solar energy of last year.

I started the season with an open mind, and then missed week 2 reveals as I as travelling. As I sat there and watched this week, I realised that there is such a wasted opportunity to create more variety in the interior design world, and a waste of chances to create truly sustainable examples of design in a programme watched by many. I love the judges and think they are all very talented, but listening to talk about “too many cushions” or “over styled” beds, reminds me of my hate of judgement when it comes to people’s homes; and why we started the #realhomesmovement. Watching the very pretty but essentially “same same” look of each bedroom and enormously luxurious ensuites, reminded me that there is no real individuality, a whole lot of non conscious consumerism, and other than Wombat and Stick’s timber log side tables, there were really no green elements to these rooms.

The problem with shows like this is that they create a drive to consume the same kinds of looks. They entice you to want to have that “dream” bedroom or kitchen, to rip out your perfectly adequate bathroom, and create a “sanctuary”, your own day spa at home. They encourage you to feel bad about your home, your life, yourself…they push you to want to get the latest of whatever is being used on the show; and they don’t advocate for refuse, reduce, recycle and reinvent in any way.

While they may sometimes ask the contestants to consider the originality of the homes, and keep the heritage features, such as those houses this year being rescued from the chopping block, essentially the aim is to create saleable homes, and saleable homes are ones that look the way the industry says is on trend; and encourage you to buy certain items to decorate your own home. There is also a lot of real waste that goes on, with things being ripped out and tossed away, when they could easily be reused or rennovated. New things are great, but what about preserving some of the old too?

For me, the ideal home renovating show would be somewhere between Grand Designs, Kirsty’s Handmade Home and The Block. Using the talent we have here in Australia, such as that of the judges of The Block , it would be one that encourages individuality, sustainability, affordability and creativity. It would encourage the combination of new items with a reuse and upcycling approach. Selection of materials and finishes that are healthy for you and the environment and locally designed and made homewares, furniture and art. It is great to sometimes see the inclusion in The Block of local makers and creatives, but it would be better to see even more of this. The judges would not judge based on whether you had too many cushions or the room looked like a magazine cover, but more on the heart of the room, how it reflected the people who designed it, how uniquely them it is, and whether it ticked the boxes of a healthy home and a sustainable approach. This is a unique opportunity with a huge audience, to make changes.

While I adored the wallpaper that Sarah used this week and those log side tables from Wombat and Sticks, while some of the art is from Aussie artists, some of the bedding is linen or organic cotton, the skylights are a great addition in a sustainable home (if managed for increased heat during summer), the carpets may be wool, and some timber floors retained, the majority of the choices in the decorating of each room are from big name stores, and importantly, there is no discussion about consideration of healthy paints, finishes and fixtures, or sustainability, which means there is no awareness of this for viewers.

So, you will not see me posting about The Block in 2017. I will be spending that time doing something else. And maybe I will give it a go again next year to see what happens, or look for an alternative renovating show – as I do love them so much



  1. Patty Hatch on August 14, 2017 at 7:06 am

    I agree, I love the show to some extent, but have concerns about the amount of waste, where does it all go, they seem to be ripping apart those walls, could not some of the timber be reused?? And yes the rooms all look similar, no individuality! Consumerism at its highest!

    • Helen Edwards on August 14, 2017 at 7:18 am

      That is the conflict – so easy to get sucked into the renovating process and seeing pretty things, but then you think about all of that and it is very hard to watch!

  2. Michelle on August 14, 2017 at 7:45 am

    I can’t watch these sort of reno shows, the amount of waste just makes me feel ill.
    All these different home shows are like a tv version of pinterest, they breed insecurity and dissatisfaction. They make you covet things you don’t need and usually can’t afford. They promote consumerism and wastefulness. They want everyone to conform and follow the trend, they want people to fit into their little box of what they think everyone should have.

    • Helen Edwards on August 14, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Oh YES a tv version of pinterest – that is GOLD! I totally agree – is’t it time we started to promote conscious consumerism – there is nothing wrong with consuming, it is how, where, who made it, how were they treated, how will you handle the item when you no longer want or need it? So many ways we could be doing these kinds of popular shows. And trends just make me bored! Thank you for sharing

  3. Jennifer on August 14, 2017 at 7:46 am

    I agree, but I haven’t watch this programme for sometime now so unable to comment about recent programmmes. To me it seems people want perfection in the way the house is decorated. Perhaps in the build or renovation but that is understandable to a point.
    I am interested in the sustainability . Paints etc.
    I was watching Grand designs NZ last night and the house did nothing at all for sustainability of course it is different every week. I would still like to see new ideas . Kirsty home made is very interesting and informative. Consumerism in The Block is full on and the price of goods deemed to be more important than other considerations. Only my opinion.

    • Helen Edwards on August 14, 2017 at 8:00 am

      Jennifer I totally agree with you – the idea of perfect is also something I want to challenge- the way they do all these rooms is not perfect in my eyes and we all have different tastes. I agree re Grand Designs – often homes are too out of reach cost wise as well, but they do at least include some unique designs. Lack of consideration of conscious consumerism is a key issue for me – thanks for sharing

  4. Suzanne on August 14, 2017 at 8:44 am

    My comment as an architect… as all the contestants are rushing to finish everything on time, they do such a bad job in plastering, painting etc. that I also wander how many of the ‘finished’ homes need to be redone properly…. wasting even more materials and effort.

    • Helen Edwards on August 14, 2017 at 10:14 am

      I think that is a great point – we visited last year and were shocked at some of the finishes 🙁

  5. Helene Wild on August 14, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Have you ever watched the best renovation show on TV? The English show, The house that 100K built. Full of sustainable ideas and clever solutions. Well worth a binge watch if you can find it. Currently on 72, probably a bit late at night for you.

    • Helen Edwards on August 14, 2017 at 10:12 am

      oh yes! Forgot about that one – the Great British Interior Design challenge was also a favourite – thanks for the reminder!

    • Jayne Turnbull on August 15, 2017 at 6:43 am

      I so enjoy the program “The House 100K Built”, excellent ideas from intelligent people. I too am over The Block.

      • Helen Edwards on August 15, 2017 at 7:54 am

        yes my Mum just told me about that one! Going to check it out, thank you

  6. Kim on August 14, 2017 at 10:00 am

    I’m joining you Helen. And now that I’m back from overseas helping my dear dad, will drop you an email about the Real Homes movement instead. Kim

    • Helen Edwards on August 14, 2017 at 10:07 am

      thanks so much Kim! You have so many wonderful things to share – hope you dad is doing ok and is settled

  7. Jen Salvana on August 14, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I absolutely agree. The producers missed a trick this season to really focus sustainable products and sustainable processes and perhaps going a step further to encourage the use of local artisan craftspeople and promoting handmade, ethical products. A show that included these things would be worth getting stuck into.

    • Helen Edwards on August 14, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      and wouldn’t it be popular and I think the homes, saleable! I am not against having new items, but more taking an approach that considers all of these things. In today’s environment it is an opportunity to be inclusive and make changes to industry. A real pity

  8. sandrajward on August 14, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    The Block has definitely deteriorated. As said, it was always about consumerism, nastiness and single-mindedness. But early on you did get to see some interesting and diverse design ideas. I am shocked that it is reduced to K-Mart styling and wonder how any judge with any dignity can praise and reward such impoverished pedestrian standards. I have moved to Grand Designs NZ but yes, though NZ folk can do sympathetic to the environment well, it most often comes at a cost that the ‘median’ bloke can only dream about and as for the footprint, it’s more like a large asteroid hitting our Earth.

    • Helen Edwards on August 14, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      I agree those elements were always there but that is part of the “reality show” part of it I guess. I don’t really mind that part as long as the show has some commitments to thinking about where things come from, where waste is headed and offering something that a range of people can enjoy, rather than the middle ground same same. I also would love to see real attention to heritage of buildings and some unique ideas. I also agree that the homes on Grand Designs (all country versions) are often way out of most of our budgets but at least they appeal to the idea of all sorts of ideas being possible in architecture and design.

  9. Ginette Thomas on August 14, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    I subscribe to a few green mags and what some people do with houses similar to those on the Block is refreshing and thoughtfully designed. So much the same old same old. I agree and I’ve said this before we need some fresh judging faces ( not personalities) At the end of the day the Block is a business hence the reason we are seeing what we see ( and it’s not new and different that’s for sure) I have one question WHY does everything have to be brand new. Up cycling is a good look on some things.

    • Helen Edwards on August 14, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      I agree – there are lots of publications and shows who are embracing these things – and just because it is commercial does not mean The Block can not too – I think it has so many good things about it because lots of people watch it, so there is a great chance to do something with that. And it is totally cool to have new items but that blend is what it is all about – thank you for sharing that

  10. Taryn C on August 14, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Did you ever see Dryspell Gardening? That was brilliant, lots of environmental solutions and all about adapting to the environment people were living in rather than trying to make the environment adapt to us.

    • Helen Edwards on August 15, 2017 at 7:55 am

      oh no – where was that on Taryn? Sounds amazing

  11. Angela on August 15, 2017 at 8:54 am

    And a beautiful light fitting that suited the era was thrown out on The Block I’ve been into rehabing since my teens in my first home and never stopped. It’s my creative outlet.

    • Helen Edwards on August 21, 2017 at 8:01 am

      I know that was the final straw for me 🙁 great to hear about your recycling – and it is definitely a great creative outlet!

  12. Meg Brak on September 18, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Hello! I completely agree and thought this so many times over the years watching the block! it would be so great to see them embrace a sustainable approach with a focus of re-using and recycling instead of new and expensive.

    • Helen Edwards on September 19, 2017 at 9:56 am

      wouldn’t it be something!!

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