Unseen: How are microplastics impacting our ocean and ourselves?

Watch Unseen: The impact of microplastics on our ocean and ourselves above. 

Plastic Pollution Coalition has released a new short documentary film Unseen: The impact of microplastics on our ocean and ourselves. With stunning footage of plastic pollution in Indonesia, the film explores the problem of microplastics through interviews with scientists, explorers, and environmental activists. 

“Plastic particles smaller than 5 mm pose a massive environmental and human health risk when they enter our waterways,” said Abby Barrows, a marine research scientist with Adventure Scientists and College of the Atlantic, who is featured in the film and has analyzed thousands of water samples from around the world for microplastics.

“Plastic is affecting the health of thousands of marine species,” said Steve Trott, a scientist from the Watamu Development Association. “This accumulations of microplastics is being ingested by the largest of the filter feeders right down to the smaller organisims, the microorganisms at the bottom of the food chain.”

Take Action: text ‘microplastic’ to 52886 (U.S. only) to get involved. 

See also: New Research Shows Plastic Fibers in Drinking Water

Take Action to stop plastic pollution.

Join our global Coalition. 

Plastic Pollution Coalition is proud to be a supporter of Plastic Oceans, a global nonprofit that seeks “to change the world’s attitude towards plastic within a generation.” The organization’s biggest project has been to assemble a team of the world’s top scientists and leading filmmakers to produce A PLASTIC OCEAN, a powerful documentary in high definition, that will play a key role in sending out the message to stop plastic pollution to the world. The trailer (below) is being released Feb. 4.

“We’ve treated the ocean as a place to throw things—dispose of things—that we did not want close to where we thought we lived. Actually, the whole planet is where we live.” 

—Dr. Sylvia Earle, ocean scientist, PPC Scientific Advisory Board member


A PLASTIC OCEAN begins when journalist Craig Leeson, searching for the elusive blue whale, discovers plastic waste in what should be remote, pristine ocean.

In this adventure documentary, Leeson teams up with free diver Tanya Streeter, and an international team of scientists and researchers, to explore the fragile state of our oceans, uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution, and reveal working solutions that can be put into immediate effect. 

They travel to 20 locations around the world over a four-year period. The results will astound viewers, as it did the adventurers themselves, who captured never-before-seen images of marine life, plastic pollution, and its ultimate consequences for human health. The filmmakers caught in beautiful and chilling detail the global effects of plastic pollution, but they also attempt to introduce workable technology and policy solutions that can, if implemented in time, change things for the better. 

Change starts with information, and that is what A PLASTIC OCEAN hopes to accomplish. Today, Feb. 4, 2016, people and organizations around the world are working together to promote a trailer for the film via social networks. If news of this important film gets to enough people, then people can change the world before it’s too late.

Be an ambassador for our oceans. SHARE this post so that as many people as possible will see the trailer, and ultimately the film when it is released in theaters.

Dr. Earle, a consultant on the film, urges all of us to be ambassadors for the ocean, to see the film, and to share its message. “‘A Plastic Ocean’ documentary is a way to inspire people—first of all, to understand; to know what’s happening. With knowing comes caring. You might not care, even if you know. But you can’t care if you don’t know.” 

Top photo: Mike Pitts films Tanya Streeter in the Mediterranean. Photo credit: David Jones | Above: From the film A Plastic Ocean. Courtesy Plastic Oceans Ltd.

By Elizabeth Glazner

When the 2016 Summer Olympic Games officially launch in Rio de Janeiro this August, we’re going to get more than the usual drama of international athletic competition. We’re also going to see errant shopping carts, couches and other audacious debris floating in Brazil’s iconic waters, along with the visual stench of a bay full of plastic pollution.

Rio’s enormous waste problem also smells really bad. But filmmakers can only capture its olfactory dimension in the screwed-up expressions of their interview subjects, who try to describe what it’s like to sail in Guanabara Bay, with picturesque Sugarloaf Mountain as backdrop, while continuously spitting out the putrid water they accidentally take into their mouths.

Here’s a trailer for “The Discarded” a short film that tries to capture the problem:

“The Discarded” is a short documentary being produced by Sound Off Films, a small production company founded by filmmakers Annie Costner (daughter of actor/filmmaker Kevin Costner) and Adrienne Hall. They met working for Oceanic Preservation Society on 2015’s “Racing Extinction” (Costner did primary research and development; Hall is associate producer), the follow-up to the Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove.”

“The Discarded” is being produced with support from Plastic Pollution Coalition and legaSeas, and is currently seeking additional funds and partners to see the film to completion.

“The Discarded” unfolds through the eyes of Artúr, a 9-year-old boy who lives in one of the favelas that hold 22 percent of Rio’s poorest residents. Like the plastic bottle that descends through runoff from the slums to the sea, so in a sense does Artúr, who is looking for a way out. After school at Projeto Grael, Artúr learns how to sail, while gaining valuable skills that might help him move beyond life in the slums.

His journey, and that of others like him, is simple, but fraught with enormous challenges. Viewers are left with the big questions: What does it mean to ignore subsets of society, to label some as worthy, and others as discarded?

While plastic pollution chokes the life out of Guanabara Bay, the city has mounted an effort to bandage the problem with expensive one-time solutions that are supposed to be meted out in time for the Olympics. The filmmakers juxtapose government pandering to wealthy patrons and tourists with the reality of the lives of locals, who live with ghastly pollution on Guanabara Bay every day. 

Costner and Hall plan to continue shooting in Brazil during summer and fall of 2016. Meanwhile, city officials swear they are going to clean up 80 percent of Rio’s pollution, at least by the time the Olympics begin. It hasn’t happened yet. And what happens when the Olympic camera crews leave town—when 22 percent of the population is still without sanitation and waste removal services?

Nine-year-old Artúro is the storyteller in “The Discarded.” Photo courtesy of Sound Off Films.

Bag It, directed by Suzan Beraza – Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes-single-use disposable bags that we mindlessly throw away. But where is “away?” Where do the bags and other plastics end up, and at what cost to our environment, marine life and human health? Bag It follows “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he navigates our plastic world. Jeb is not a radical environmentalist, but an average American who decides to take a closer look at our cultural love affair with plastics. Jeb’s journey in this documentary film starts with simple questions: Are plastic bags really necessary? What are plastic bags made from? What happens to plastic bags after they are discarded? Jeb looks beyond plastic bags and discovers that virtually everything in modern society—from baby bottles, to sports equipment, to dental sealants, to personal care products—is made with plastic or contains potentially harmful chemical additives used in the plastic-making process. When Jeb’s journey takes a personal twist, we see how our crazy-for-plastic world has finally caught up with us and what we can do about it. Today. Right now.

No Impact Man, directed by Laura Gaggert and Justin Schein – Colin Beavan is a liberal schlub who got tired of listening to himself complain about the world without ever actually doing anything about it. Thus, in November, 2006, Beavan launched a year-long project in which he, his wife, his 2-year-old daughter and his 4-year-old dog went off the grid and attempted to live in the middle of New York City with as little environmental impact as possible. The No Impact project has been the subject of stories in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and many other national and international news outlets. Beavan has appeared on The Colbert Report, Good Morning America, Nightline, The Montel Show, and all the major NPR shows. He speaks regularly to a wide variety of audiences, is frequently quoted in the press and consults to business on the intersection of sustainability and human quality of life.

Plastic Planet, directed by Werner Boote – In the tradition of Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock, this feisty yet informative documentary takes us on a journey around the globe—from the Moroccan Sahara to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, from a factory in China to the highest peaks of the Alps—to reveal the far-flung reach of plastic. Interviews with the world’s foremost experts in biology, pharmacology, and genetics shed light on the perils of plastic to our environment and expose the truth of how plastic affects our bodies…and the health of future generations.

Tapped, directed by Stephanie Soechtig – Is access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce? Stephanie Soechtig’s debut feature is an unflinching examination of the big business of bottled water. From the producers of Who Killed the Electric Car and I.O.U.S.A., this timely documentary is a behind-the-scenes look into the unregulated and unseen world of an industry that aims to privatize and sell back the one resource that ought never to become a commodity: our water. From the plastic production to the ocean in which so many of these bottles end up, this inspiring documentary trails the path of the bottled water industry and the communities which were the unwitting chips on the table.

Addicted to Plastic, directed by Ian Connacher – From styrofoam cups to artificial organs, plastics are perhaps the most ubiquitous and versatile material ever invented. No invention in the past 100 years has had more influence and presence than synthetics. But such progress has had a cost. Addicted To Plastic is a point-of-view style documentary that encompasses three years of filming in 12 countries on 5 continents, including two trips to the middle of the Pacific Ocean where plastic debris accumulates. The film details plastic’s path over the last 100 years and provides a wealth of expert interviews on practical and cutting edge solutions to recycling, toxicity and biodegradability. These solutions—which include plastic made from plants—will provide viewers with a new perspective about our future with plastic.

Unacceptable Levels — Over 80,000 chemicals flow through our system of commerce, and many are going straight into our bodies. UNACCEPTABLE LEVELS presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us. Starring: Ken Cook, Christopher Gavigan. Runtime: 1 hour, 21 minutes.