A Plastic Ocean: We Need a Wave of Change

Plastic Pollution Coalition Hosts Q&A and LA Premiere for ‘A Plastic Ocean’ Film

On Jan. 17, Plastic Pollution Coalition hosted a Q&A and the Los Angeles premiere of the adventure documentary film ‘A Plastic Ocean.’ Panelists included: Anushka Bhasker of Algalita Marine Research and Education; Katie Allen, executive director of Algalita; Marcus Eriksen, co-founder and research director of 5 Gyres; Christie Keith, international coordinator of GAIA; Benjamin Kay, a marine scientist, teacher, and coach representing Team Marine; Jordan Howard, a social good strategist; and actor and activist Ed Begley, Jr. The panel discussion was moderated by Jane Patton, managing director of Plastic Pollution Coalition, and focused on solutions to the plastic pollution crisis.

More than 300 people, including many students from local high schools and colleges, attended the screening and discussion. 

Watch the full Q&A here via Facebook live.

“It was very moving and tragic when they pulled plastic out of the birds,” said Ed Begley, Jr. of his reaction to the film. Panelists also spoke to the issue of developing countries living with trash created by the U.S.

“As an American, we know we are the polluters,” said Howard in response to the documentary. “It’s always eye-opening to see the back yards of poor and impoverished communities, to see how they have to grapple with our habits and our plastic.”

It’s always eye-opening to see the back yards of poor and impoverished communities, to see how they have to grapple with our habits and our plastic.

Jordan Howard

Keith added that while she found the film very powerful in its footage, she took issue with some of the solutions presented. “I have a concern that many of the solutions that are being implemented in the global south are not featured in the film,” she said. Keith added that the process of incinerating plastic, a solution presented in the film, releases harmful chemicals into the air and cannot be the ultimate fix to the ever-increasing plastic pollution problem. 

Panelists from left: Ed Begley, Jr., Jordan Howard, Benjamin Kay, Christie Keith, Marcus Eriksen, Katie Allen, and Anushka Bhasker. 

Bhasker, a 15-year-old student, shared her perspective on the “culture of conservation” she experienced growing up in India and how we all should rethink what it means to throw garbage “away.”

Panelists also spoke about holding manufacturers accountable for the plastic products and packages they produce and changing consumer behavior.

“We have to be careful about these quick-fix solutions [to plastic pollution] that we hear about because it makes consumers say ‘we’re solving that problem so I can continue my everyday behavior,’ said Kay.

Panelists also gave tips for simple actions everyone in the audience and at home could take to reduce plastic pollution such as refusing plastic straws and other disposables and choosing activism. 

Many of the speakers emphasized that the time is now to organize. “Martin Luther King, Jr. once said ‘those who love peace must learn how to organize as well as those who love war.’ In our case, those who love the environment must learn how to organize as well as those who love money,” said Allen of the critical need for people to come together. 

“This film reminds me of what’s at stake,” said Eriksen of the toxic impacts of plastic on our environment and the current political climate in the U.S. “It’s time to organize a grassroots movement!” 

Dianna Cohen, co-founder and CEO of PPC, said, “We are excited to be leading local conversations around ‘A Plastic Ocean;’ a stunning and moving film providing a launching point to address the extent of the worldwide plastic pollution problem; viable solutions which include source reduction, extended producer responsibility, packaging redesign, and progressive government policies; and the real need for inclusiveness in the global movement to break free from plastic.”

To find or host a screening of ‘A Plastic Ocean,’ visit this site. The film is also available for pre-order on itunes.  

Thank you to our sponsors: 5 Gyres, Algalita, Blue Mind Life, Lonely Whale Foundation, Heal The Bay, Team Marine, Environmental Media Awards, Qupe Wines, and Pullum Community Arts Center.

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