“Plastic People” and “Single-Use Planet” Films Depict the Harms of Plastics

With both a plastic-focused Earth Day and the Fourth Negotiating Session of the UN Plastics Treaty underway next week, we want to spotlight how the films “Plastic People” and “Single-Use Planet” depict the harms of plastics—and the solutions we need.

Plastic pollution is an urgent global crisis, and without swift action, the production of plastics depends heavily on fossil fuels, further driving the climate crisis, pollution, and injustice. By 2060, production of plastics is expected to triple, further disrupting the vulnerable state of people and our planet. “Plastic People” and “Single-Use Planet” are two captivating documentaries exploring the consequences of plastic pollution and the solutions we need to turn the plastic tide.

“Plastic People”

“Plastic People” is focused on the growing issue of plastic pollution and its significant effects on human health. Directed by award-winning director Ben Addelman and author and science journalist Ziya Tong, “Plastic People” introduces viewers to numerous experts, including Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) Scientific Advisor Sedat Gündoğdu, who uncover the alarming prevalence of microplastics in the environment and our bodies. Tong undergoes health testing experiments that show the pervasiveness of microplastics in everything—from the food we eat to the air we breathe. Addelman and Tong challenge viewers to face the truth of our dependency to plastic and reconsider our relationship with this dominant product by issuing an urgent call to action. The solutions we need exist today. With the support of a committed team and partners, the documentary has created a meaningful outreach campaign igniting conversations and motivating real-world solutions. It premiered at the 2024 SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, and its launch featured a panel with Addelman, PPC Co-Founder and CEO Dianna Cohen, Rick Smith of Canadian Climate Institute, and Diane Wilson of San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper.

Find information on screenings and press here.

“Single-Use Planet”

Uncovering the real causes of the massive wave of single-use plastic waste swamping our oceans and filling our bodies, “Single-Use Planet” takes viewers on a captivating upstream voyage focused on the consequences of plastic production. The film addresses the roles plastics have played in our modern society—and its consequences. The film unfolds through a sequence of in-depth investigative vignettes, beginning in Pennsylvania, where Royal Dutch Shell’s development of a giant plastic plant represents the region’s expectations for an economic comeback from steel production. The documentary explores the political and economic interests propelling the growth of the plastics industry among discussions about the creation of jobs versus environmental concerns. The setting then shifts to St. James Parish, Louisiana, showing how one of the world’s largest proposed plastic manufacturing facilities would worsen environmental racism in a predominantly Black region already caught in the pollution of “Cancer Alley.” “Single-Use Planet” further explores the regulatory barriers that legislation must overcome to reduce plastic pollution in Washington, D.C., exposing the powerful lobbying power of the industry on policymakers, and compares U.S. policy struggles to France’s more proactive policy on plastic regulation. But the film shows that it’s strong policies that we need to implement and enforce solutions that make a difference. 

Stay tuned for upcoming events here, and join the latest “Single-Use Planet” conversation today at 4pm ET.

Enter Our ‘Micro’ Plastic-Free Film Contest and Show Us Solutions

As “Plastic People” and “Single-Use Planet” show us, plastic pollutes our lives. With plastic-wrapped products lining the shelves and near-daily new reports detailing the amounts of microplastics and nanoplastics in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and even inside of our bodies, it’s hard to imagine a world without plastic. But a better, brighter, plastic-free day is possible.

That’s why we’re asking filmmakers of all levels to give us a glimpse of the plastic-free future they want to see, with a chance to take home $2,000. Enter our “Independence from Plastic: A ‘Micro’ Plastic-Free Film Contest” by June 7, 2024.


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To Stop Plastic Pollution