Monday, August 3, 2009

Addicted to Plastics / Ian Connacher -- Reading, PA: Bullfrong Films, 2007.

The documentary "Addicted to Plastics" (part of the 'etc.' on this blog) has the basic characteristics of a well done documentary. It is engaging and entertaining while informative. It covered some of the more widely known problems of plastics (their volume in our waste stream, the fact that they don't decompose and can only be down-cycled, not recycled) and drove home a couple of other points. One - the oceans are becoming plastic soup. Some of the most impressive scenes from the movie were of pieces of plastics large and small being removed in formidable volumes from remote parts of the earth. Two - plastics absorb chemicals that are otherwise diluted in the ocean, increasing their health hazard to marine and bird life and passing that risk up the food chain.

The documentary attempts to be optimistic by pointing to recycling efforts and new forms of less harmful plastics but doesn't offer any real call to arms to address the problems from plastic with concrete or timely measures. In fact, an overblown portrayal of life without plastic seems to suggest that the problem is too big for individual action. Although I believe that collective action holding manufacturers responsible for the lifecycle of their products is more powerful than individual efforts to reduce, the damage wreaked by plastics, as clearly outlined in the film, is too great to wait for the 'green chemistry' to save the day. Acting now to reduce the volume of plastic being produced decreases air, land, and water pollution and increases the livability of the planet we so enjoy.

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