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Today, the DC Environmental Film Festival had a "pre-screening" of BAG IT at the Warner Theatre.

A great film fest ...

Before turning to a discussion of this (great) film, a short note on the festival. This is the "19th Annual Environmental Film Festival in the nation's capital" and it will bring to the screen some 150 documentaries, animated, archival, children's, etc films between 15 and 27 March. From astoundingly beautiful vistas (how about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (America's Wildest Refuge) to the devastatingly destressing (such as a 40-square mile Superfund site in Oklahoma (Tar Creek)), the DC Environmental Filmfest provides a rich montage across the beauty and pain of 21st century environmentalism.

There are a myriad of rich themes within the Festival. The Energy Film Series, for example, has over 20 events -- in other words, it is impossible to make it to every film worth seeing.  On the other hand, to transition to the film, don't "bag it" ("to quit, forgo, or give up on") and -- if you're in the DC area -- get yourself to at least some of these great films.  And, if you want to be part of the 'in crowd', there is the Festival Launch Party, tomorrow, 10 March, with the always amazing and inspiring Van Jonesas speaker.

A film worth seeing:  Bag It!

This morning, I joined a few hundred Washington, DC, school students to watch Bag It, a film that starts from a simple odyssey questioning plastic bags overwhelming our lives (and, yes, just carry a canvas bag) to a wider exploration of (disposable) plastic in modern life and its impact on us and the broader environment.  

This film is well constructed, flows, and delivers a strong message about the perverseness of using depletable resources (fossil fuels) to make things that will last esssentially forever (plastics) in extraordinary amounts (some 700 billion plastic bags per year) that we use for the briefest of moments (plastic wrapping, water bottles, ...) that is ending up in the food stream (for both ourselves and throughout the ecosystem).    The message, however, is also a positive one: that each of us can take actions to reduce the larger impact (reduce, reuse ... and then recycle; make smart choices about what plastics to accept into your life) and also to reduce plastic's impact on our own lives.

The last is brought to prominence as the film follows Joe Berrier through an odyssey from unawareness of plastic's issues into substantive knowledge and concern.  En route, Joe becomes an expectant father and thus has even greater concerns about impacts from plastics on health and infant development (BPA and Pthalates focused on in the film).  One segment of the film has Joe getting a test of the chemicals within his system after having worked to reduce plastics in his home life (like no plastic water bottles, not putting plastic in microwave, reduced plastics in body products, etc ...). He then takes two days (at a friend's apartment, away from his pregnant wife) using plastics like a 'typical' American (putting his food into a plastic container in the microwave, body creams, etc ...).  After two days, on average, counts of relevant substances in his body were up ... by an average of 51 times.  In other words, Joe's individual actions to reduce plastics in his (and his wife's and his yet to be born child) life were have having a substantive (and positive) impact on his body composition.

One thematic in the film is how industry (primarily the American Chemical Council) is engaged in a systemic campaign to inhibit movement forward to address environmental, energy, and health risks related to plastics whether this is suing to stop plastic bag bans or baldly asserting that plastics don't create health risks.  As to the first, think 'paper or plastic' question at the checkout line. For those who argue that they are essentially equivalent (or that plastic is better due to not cutting down trees), they conveniently leave 'what happens next' from the equation.  Paper will biodegrade if it makes it to the sea. Plastic could well end looking like a meal to a turtle or a bird.

Bag It is strengthened by the 'strong cast' of interviewees, who include experts and heroes (and personal favorites) across numerous domains.  Michael Braungart, Cradle to Grave; Annie Leornard, Story of Stuff; Dan Imhoff, Paper or Plastic; Beth Terry, Fake Plastic Fish; Elizabeth Royte, Garbage Land; etc ... knowledgeable people, who know how to communicate, and who are well integrated into a compelling 'story' of serious risk and real potential to turn things around for the better.

Now, watching it with a horde of schoolchildren added value to the event.  From their cheers when DC's highly successful five-cent per bag programwas mentioned (reducing plastic bags by over 70 percent) to groans at descriptions of how infant exposure to plastics can lead to smaller penises, they were an attentive (and engaged) audience who likely came to the Warner Theatre knowing little and now having an awareness of a real issue -- with an idea that they, themselves, can have a role in solving it. Let's hope more like these students see this film and take action based on that experience.

Originally posted to A Siegel on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 01:19 PM PST.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Maybe we should frame this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, citisven, Larsstephens

    So it seems we have yet another industry group (formerly known as the Chemical Manufacturers Association) getting obstructing constructive change.

    One thematic in the film is how industry (primarily the American Chemical Council) is engaged in a systemic campaign to inhibit movement forward to address environmental, energy, and health risks related to plastics whether this is suing to stop plastic bag bans or baldly asserting that plastics don't create health risks.  As to the first, think 'paper or plastic' question at the checkout line. For those who argue that they are essentially equivalent (or that plastic is better due to not cutting down trees), they conveniently leave 'what happens next' from the equation.

    Perhaps we should frame this as "too bad chemists are not smart enough to create commercially viable biodegradable plastics so we are not drowning in waste."

    Be radical in your compassion.

    by DWG on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 01:53:20 PM PST

    •  Well ... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, RunawayRose, koNko, DWG, citisven

      there are 'commercially viable' bio-sourced 'plastics' however they aren't favored by most enterprises for a range of reasons (want to talk about the gleeful House Republicans pointing to melting corn-starch spoons as they justify killing Greening the Capital?).  If we don't price externalities, the polluting options have an unfair competitive advantage.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 01:55:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko, A Siegel, Larsstephens

        Conservatives have no objection to hiding the externals because it favors the status quo and harms those least able to pay for them. So we have to find an appeal that outmaneuvers the mindset.

        When dealing with congress critters of genus conservativitus, maybe someone should gather the disposable junk generated by the Congressional cafeteria for a week and hold a press conference. We could take pictures of the mountain of garbage and post photos asking why Congress generates X amount of garbage per capita.

        We cannot appeal to their intellect or integrity, so that only leaves emotional appeals. Pretty sad.

        Be radical in your compassion.

        by DWG on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 03:23:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Do you know (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel, Larsstephens

        The corn starch platsics are even worse because it causes the platic to break down into small particles but NOT biodigest is a safe way?

        There are safer biodigestable plastics and these are an alternative for some essential applications but shopping bags should be durable and recylable and made from renewable resources beause they can be. Worked OK for centuries, doesn't need to be proven.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:51:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  They have been one of the main groups (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens

      Company funded thingy.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:46:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Really wanted to see Bag It (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, A Siegel, Larsstephens

    it was part of the 1st annual SF Green Film Festival, but they charged 100 bucks a pop, which I thought was kind of annoying and defeating the purpose. I did see Werner Herzog's new film Happy People about trappers in the Taiga instead and that was pretty amazing. And speaking of plastic bags and Werner Herzog, I really love this one about the journey of a plastic bag, it's beautiful and disturbing...

  •  maddening is going to store with (4+ / 0-)

    eco friendly bags only to bring home food packaged with plastic.

    fricking everywhere.

    and the cost in our health and to critters keeps piling up.

    good diary.

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 02:49:11 PM PST

  •  Smaller penises? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, citisven, Larsstephens

    That must be those phalates you mentioned in the diary.

    Or was that pthalates?

    (Sorry, I'm not being a nice person today, but I did tip and rec).

    We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

    by badger on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 04:16:13 PM PST

  •  Sounds like a great film (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens

    As you may recal, this is one of my PET (pun untended) issues.

    It's good to hear about DC's 5 cent law. Yes, it works.

    Remember this old raggedy thing? 3 years on we're doing great. And globally, an increasing number of countries and cities are getting with the program.

    Maybe I should do a follow-up to summarize which countiries and cities have such regulations but that willtake some research.

    T+R

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 05:44:46 PM PST

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