ENGAGING THE NEXT GENERATION IN THE SEARCH FOR SOLUTIONS
By Tracy Russo
Plastic Pollution Coalition hosted a benefit screening of Plastic Paradise, a film by Angela Sun, in North Hollywood, Calif. earlier this week. More than 150 people joined us to view the film and talk about how to stop plastic pollution—including dozens of students from Santa Monica High School, the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center, and other LA-area elementary and high schools. Student admission was sponsored by generous PPC members from around the United States.
In this independent documentary film, journalist and filmmaker Angela Sun travels thousands of miles away from civilization to Midway Atoll, one of the most remote places on earth, but labeled “ground zero” of the The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as it syphons plastics from three distant continents.
Sun meets and interviews scientists, researchers, influencers, and volunteers whom shed light on the effects of our rabid plastic consumption as she learns that the problem of plastic pollution is more insidious than we could have ever imagined. Numerous PPC members, Algalita Marine Research Institute and 5 Gyres Institute are featured in this fantastic film, which is currently traveling the film festival circuit and available for special screenings.
Following the screening, Angela Sun joined PPC Co-Founder Dianna Cohen, Actors and Activists Ed Begley, Jr and Kate Connor, plus Captain Charles Moore from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation for a Q&A about the film and the problem of plastic pollution.
Our panel of experts spoke passionately about the problems and solutions the film illuminated, but the true stars of the Q&A were the students in our audience who asked some of the most thought-provoking questions and provided some of the best comments of the night, including asking Captain Moore whether or not the plastics industry will ever stop making plastic.
Captain Moore answered the young person’s question with honesty, noting that plastic has become too much a part of our life to eliminate it completely, but saying that he hoped the industry would focus on “benign design” in the future—and find ways to produce plastic that isn’t harmful for our health and environment.
Another student asked what they could do to spread the word and the panel each gave tips about ways that they could make choices every day to refuse single-use disposable plastics and influence their friends and family to do the same. Ed Begley, Jr. proudly showed off his stainless steel bottle; Captain Moore pulled out his reusable Chicobag that he hooks onto his belt loop, and Kate Connor and Dianna Cohen spoke about making choices to refuse plastic utensils and bags and how anyone—including students—can encourage schools and businesses to offer non-plastic options and alternatives.
LA-area students with the Plastic Paradise Panelists
As the panel closed, a high school student from the audience noted the problem of plastic pollution will become theirs, saying, “It’s your today, but it’s our tomorrow.” He then asked Angela to bring the film to more schools and events so young people could understand the problem and help be part of the solution.
As the Q&A came to a close, our audience was engaged and eager to keep talking to the panelists who lingered in the lobby for an extra hour to answer questions and talk about ways to help stop plastic pollution.
PPC stainless steel bottles and straws, Plastic Paradise merchandise and Captain Charles Moore’s book, Plastic Ocean.
If you’d like to bring Plastic Paradise to your town, you can! PPC used Tugg.com to organize this screening, which allows anyone to host screenings in their local community if they can meet a minimum threshold for ticket sales.
You can also check Tugg.com to see if a Plastic Paradise screening is coming up in your community or visit the Plastic Paradise movie website at http://plasticparadisemovie.com/