America’s Plastic Water Bottle Problem

Plastic pollutes every part of our lives, including our childhood.

In Greta Gerwig’s new movie, Barbie, actor Margot Robbie plays the film’s namesake plastic doll as she navigates Barbieland—a highly artificial, mostly plastic place designed seemingly for women empowerment and positivity. Yet, as the plot progresses, the film’s namesake becomes distressed when she leaves her perfect, pink plastic home to visit the challenging and imperfect “real” human world. But while reviewers have much to say about Barbie’s cultural significance, something that’s been less discussed is that in our world, Barbie’s plastic is not so fantastic.

As the Barbie movie rolls out worldwide, it has already sparked a surge in sales of Barbie dolls and accessories (the day a Margot Robbie Barbie went on sale, it became the number-one selling doll on Amazon), in addition to causing a surge in sales of synthetic early 2000s style fast-fashion clothing. These trends are all about plastic. That’s bad news for our bodies, social justice, the climate, our environment, and wildlife, which are all harmed by plastic pollution.

Plastic Toys Are Harmful to Human (Especially Children’s) Health

Few toys have a grip on our society quite like Barbie does, especially for people living in the United States, where culture is commonly defined by individuality and enterprise. For many children, Barbie is iconic: They are shown that Barbie can do or be anything. While play is critical for children, young people would do better than model themselves after an entirely plastic doll. In fact, Barbie, like all plastic toys and items, are harmful to human health because they are made of plastic.

It’s important for parents and guardians to understand how the developing bodies of children are especially vulnerable to plastic pollution. But when you’re a kid crafting another space mission for Astronaut Barbie or designing a wedding for Chef Barbie that includes a 200+ plushie guest list, plastic toxicity is the last thing on your mind.  The reality is that plastic toys, including Barbies, are made out of fossil fuels and a cocktail of chemical additives known to cause a variety of serious health problems. 

Barbie (and all of her plastic “friends” and accessories) are made with at least five types of fossil fuel-based plastics: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and hard vinyl—plus additive chemicals. One of these plastic additives, called Di(isononyl) cyclohexane-1,2-dicarboxylate (DINCH), has been used in newer Barbies to replace phthalates, which are additives linked to asthma, metabolic disorders, obesity, and other health problems. However, research on human cells suggests DINCH could have adverse outcomes similar to that of other toxic plasticizers in children’s toys. Plastic toys also release toxic microplastics and nanoplastics, which are easily inhaled and ingested (especially if your child chews on toys). Plastic toys also off-gas chemicals linked to fossil fuels called volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—which are linked to several health issues including eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; organ damage; nausea; and are potentially cancer-causing.

Children who chew on plastic toys risk absorbing dangerous chemicals, including lead, into their bodies. Plastics commonly contain hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals, and testing shows we are absorbing these chemicals into our bodies. Hormone disrupting chemicals are linked to serious health problems, including developmental, growth, metabolic, and reproductive issues. Historically, plastic producers have not been transparent about the toxic chemicals they use in their products, including children’s toys, at our expense. Experts say plastic toys made before 2007, particularly those made of PVC plastic, like Barbie, may be especially toxic.

Plastic Toys Are Plastic Pollution

Plastics are dangerous before they’re even plastics. Consider the explosion and pollution plume caused by the toxic trail derailment in Ohio earlier this year: Some of the train cars that derailed were carrying highly toxic ingredients used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC)—a plastic used to make water pipes, flooring, and childhood toys…including Barbies. While memorable, mass-produced children’s toys like Barbie seem to land in our shopping carts and on our screens shiny, pretty, and polished, we cannot afford to forget that these items ultimately pollute the air we breath, the food we eat, the water we drink, the soil at our feet, and all of our bodies. Despite the hype, plastic is not fantastic.

Plastic’s endless and toxic existence fuels serious pollution of our air, land, fresh water, ocean and bodies. This pollution starts when the  fossil fuel ingredients used to make plastics are extracted from the Earth and continues on into plastics and chemical production, storage, transportation, and manufacturing. Plastics carry on polluting throughout their use and eventual toxic “disposal” in landfills, incinerators, or the environment. When no longer desired or usable, Barbies, and other plastic toys, and all of their plastic packaging, are almost always not recyclable—because plastic was not designed to be recycled. Pollution, including the myriad forms of toxic pollution created by plastics throughout their existence, is responsible for approximately 9 million premature deaths per year (1 in 6 deaths) globally.

Low-income, rural, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities that have faced multiple levels of injustices are also unfortunately most likely to experience the worst impacts of plastic’s pollution. Living on the frontlines of the plastic and petrochemical industries and the storage, transportation, and disposal sites and infrastructure not only means more health problems due to extreme pollution, but also noise and light pollution, overall diminished quality of life, and an elevated risk of dangerous fires and accidents.

Many textiles—including those that Barbie wears—contain plastic. Plastic microfibers shed from synthetic textiles into the air, and waterways when washed. The mass-production of plastic fast fashion clothing ensures wastefulness, as clothes are rapidly bought and discarded for newer and newer clothing. Fast fashion and the culture of consumerism embodied in the Global North generates massive amounts of textile pollution that is disproportionately shipped to the Global South, where it drives dangerous pollution and injustice

What’s more, toys themselves are commonly produced in the Global South. Often, the people making the toys are exploited women and youth. Investigations have shown such toy factory workers are paid extremely low wages to work in hazardous conditions for long hours—often with no breaks. The pollution from these factories poison communities downstream.

Looking like a Barbie doll has become trendy, in large part due to the Barbie film release. “Barbiecore is soaring,” according to Time Magazine. Barbiecore is, in short, the aesthetic of early aughts: bubblegum-pop, bright, pink—embodying stereotypical ideas about quintessential, unapologetic girlhood. Ultimately, this fad represents and correlates with a time of unprecedented consumerism, from toys, video games, fast fashion, single-use plastic items, and other kinds of plastic pollution. 

Children May Outgrow Plastic Toys, but Plastic Toys Last Forever

Children’s toys weren’t always made of and packaged in plastic. Prior to the turn of the 20th century, most toys were made of glass, metal, or wood, and dolls were usually made of cloth. The rise of plastic mass-production following World War II led to mainstreaming of plastic toys—including Barbie, but also Mr. Potato Head, LEGO, GI Joe, and many others. Plastic toys were increasingly produced to replace cloth, glass, metal, and wooden toys particularly throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Today, it’s estimated at least 90 percent of children’s toys are made of plastic. Plastic’s durability, versatility, and safety are often marketed as the key reasons why so many children’s products are made of the material—despite plastic being a key driver of health problems, pollution, and injustice.

As Gerwig has recently told Time Magazine, “sometimes these movies can have a quality of hegemonic capitalism.” To cut through feelings of branding and consumerism, the filmmaker chose to add clips of the cast and crew’s friends and family to Barbie. “It’s like sneaking in humanity to something that everybody thinks is a hunk of plastic,” she told TIME.

Many of us who have played with Barbie and other plastic children’s toys growing up may feel nostalgia for these items and the culture of our generation. Despite all the glamor of Barbieland, and all the influence Barbie has had on our culture, we can acknowledge that the plastic she is made of and the wastefulness that her persona encouraged is full of ugly truths. Gerwig’s film itself received the Environmental Media Association (EMA) gold seal, indicating that the cast and crew practiced heightened sustainability practices behind the scenes and throughout production. So. instead of flocking to buy a Barbie amid our latest fascination with “life in plastic,” watch the movie instead; it’s more sustainable.

If you’re interested in what the EMA criteria looks like, or want to learn more about sustainability in Hollywood, watch our recent webinar with Asher Levin, Creative Director of EMA who, along with our other panelists, discusses key issues, green initiatives and efforts underway, and plastic-free solutions for the entertainment industry. To learn more about reducing plastic from sets, off of screens, and in storylines check out our Flip the Script on Plastics initiative working with SAG AFTRA’s Green Council.

It’s time for a new normal, where we choose health, justice, and regeneration over a world filled with plastic. We recommend children’s toys made from (and sold unpackaged or packaged in) nontoxic, regenerative, reusable, and safe materials, such as those sold by Plastic Pollution Coalition Member EarthHero. Consider giving plastic-free experiences, like a plastic-free birthday parties.

Learn more about plastic-free habits for families in our Healthy Baby Guide (and Healthy Pregnancy Guide), and commit to a world free of plastic pollution.


On June 13, 2023, a bus filled with television and film writers embarked on a “Toxic Tour” of fossil fuel and plastic pollution sites across Los Angeles, California, organized by Plastic Pollution Coalition and Hollywood, Health & Society. The day was eye-opening, making the connection for attendees that 99% of plastics are made from petrochemicals derived from fossil fuels. Following is a firsthand account of the day by Amelia Hanson, Project Coordinator for the Flip the Script on Plastics initiative and Olivia Sparks, Intern, both at Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Los Angeles is a City Built on “Black Gold”

On June 23, 1921, in the community of Signal Hill, California, just east of Long Beach, the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company struck “black gold,” otherwise known as crude oil. It was this discovery that helped drive forward the expansion of Los Angeles into the city we know today, built by oil barons now synonymous with popular Los Angeles tourist attractions, such as The Hammer Museum and The Getty Center. At one point, California produced a quarter of the world’s crude oil, with Los Angeles playing a central role in the state’s oil mecca. While we now consider Los Angeles to be the epicenter of entertainment, Los Angeles County remains the largest urban oil producing area in the United States, with many oil wells hidden in plain sight, in locations such as the Beverly Center and Cardiff Tower.

Our Toxic Tour took place just over 100 years after industrialists began pumping oil in Signal Hill. Our goal in taking television and film writers on this journey was to inform them of the harmful effects of plastics throughout their existence—from their origins as fossil fuels, to their production, use, disposal, and pollution—in hopes that content creators will turn this knowledge into compelling, factual entertainment—and ultimately help to Flip the Script on Plastics.

Witnessing Environmental Racism

As we made our way down the freeway, our first speaker, Tianna Shaw-Wakeman from Black Women for Wellness, encouraged us to watch the landscape around us as we passed by neighborhoods.

You notice where highways are placed and where they are not. You notice where trees are and where they are not. You notice where there’s green space or grocery stores and where there are not. You notice where there are health care facilities of a certain caliber and where there are not. You notice where water tastes better and where it might not.

–Tianna Shaw-Wakeman, Black Women for Wellness
Tianna Shaw-Wakeman. Photo by Dianna Cohen

We could clearly see that it was the lower income and communities of color that we drove through that lacked green spaces, grocery stories, and clean water. This included Signal Hill, a community that had the resources industry wanted, and whose residents are underserved, being exposed to pollutants, and facing various systemic injustices.

There’s another level of harm, and you know that so much of this is because of racism. It’s because of fossil fuel extraction and all of the myriad of effects that it can have. … So when we talk about environmental justice, and when we talk about environmental injustice, we’re talking about environmental racism.

–Tianna Shaw-Wakeman, Black Women for Wellness

Then Michele Prichard, who joined us from Liberty Hill Foundation, shared the story of Nalleli Cobo. Nalleli Cobo is a young Angeleno, who grew up across the street from an oil well, not far from the University of Southern California (USC), where our journey had begun. 

Nalleli’s activism began at age 9, when she noticed the foul smell from the oil well across from her house and experienced frequent nose bleeds, headaches, and heart palpitations. In 2020, after years of tireless work to bring attention to the pollution and injustice her community faced, while enduring her pollution inflicted illnesses, Nalleli was successful in getting the oil well from her neighborhood shut down. And, through her dedicated work, in 2021, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ban new oil wells in unincorporated parts of the county and examine the status of existing ones.

Inglewood Oil Field

As Michele Prichard finished recounting Nalleli’s story, Tianna invited us to look out our windows, drawing our attention to the fact that we had just entered the Inglewood Oil Field. Covering approximately 1,100 acres, and stretching into the horizon on either side of the bus, the Inglewood Oil Field is the largest urban oil field in the United States. Much to our surprise, the landscape around these wells remained disconcertingly beautiful, with green grass and wildflowers growing tightly around them. Many of us on the bus expressed that we had expected something more apocalyptic, almost scorched earth, when we pictured an oil field. Perhaps this was why so many of us have been able to turn a blind eye to the industry despite our years living in the city that it helped create.

Inglewood Oil Field. Photo by Dianna Cohen.

When we turned the corner, the oil wells were suddenly replaced by the picturesque Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, which, on this day, was full of families playing sports, picnicking, and enjoying nature. Many of the tour’s attendees were familiar with the park and the surrounding area, yet somehow managed to block out the hundreds of oil wells spread out across the street. Many of us believed that the rigs must have been decommissioned—while in reality they remain in use pumping oil.

One attendee pointed out that this oil field sat on the edges of the highly desirable and affluent Black neighborhoods of Baldwin Hills and View Park. She said that when she was looking for real estate in the area, no one ever brought up the presence of the oil field, nor the possible health complications linked to oil extraction that could come along with moving into the area. She further pondered when “white flight” may have begun in this neighborhood, and which came first: the oil field or the Black community. Studies show that people of color are especially likely to live in communities overtaken by fossil fuel development and its pollution, particularly Black people, who make up 5.5 percent of California’s population but account for about 12 percent of Angelenos living in areas with the heaviest—and most dangerous—oil and gas production.

Our first stop at the Inglewood Oil Field was deeply emotional for me. I have always lived minutes away from the drilling site and across the street from Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, which serves as an illusion for the drilling site by secluding it with beautiful lush greenery and florals. I was heartbroken to realize that my beloved home and neighbors are being exposed to a multitude of environmental toxic chemicals and suffer from severe health issues, as a result of our proximity to the Inglewood Oil Field.

–Olivia Sparks, Flip the Script on Plastics Intern at Plastic Pollution Coalition

The Effects of Plastic Consumption

As we moved on, Venezia Ramirez, from the Environmental Justice Lab at USC, shared a story of how she and her community worked together to stop construction of a new Amazon warehouse, explaining that warehouses like this are a direct result of our endless plastic consumption.

All these repercussions of consumption of plastic and other sources outside the U.S. causes an increased demand for ports, operations, expansions of freeways, and the warehouses. Those are all impacting our communities. While other communities have those Whole Foods and have the Amazon stores, we bear the burden of that pollution. We have the Amazon warehouses.

–Venezia Ramirez, Environmental Justice Lab at the University of Southern California (USC)

These warehouses require freeways and trucks to transport goods, further polluting the air breathed by residents living nearby with particulate matter and other hazardous emissions. Research shows Black people are exposed to more than 1.5 times the amount of particulate matter compared to the overall population, which largely comes from diesel vehicle emissions.

Venezia Ramirez. Photo by Dianna Cohen

Venezia stressed the significance of the research that she and the Environmental Justice Lab at USC conducted, informing us that the reason corporations can get away with environmental pollution is often due to a lack of research that could otherwise hold them accountable. If voices and information communicating the facts are silenced or ignored, deadly corporations can’t easily be stopped. This is why Venezia spends all her time, both on and off the clock, researching and advocating for a better life for her neighbors and family. She explained that she does not have the privilege of stopping when her workday ends.

Phillips 66 Refinery in Wilmington, California

Next we pulled over in the city of Wilmington, just off the freeway, onto a small, residential cul-de-sac where the Phillips 66 refinery loomed in the background. Instantly, we were hit with a wave of noxious fumes, presumably streaming from its smokestacks and a nearby asphalt facility. As we exited the bus and walked to the end of the street, folks murmured to each other, curious how the fumes might be affecting residents, especially the children and also the dogs that greeted us from the yards as we walked past.

Alicia Rivera speaks to the Toxic Tour group. Photo by Kate Folb

At the end of the street, we met Alicia Rivera from Communities for a Better Environment, an activist who lives in Wilmington. We gathered around as she explained how, because of this refinery and others like it nearby, residents in Wilmington suffered frequent, and increasingly serious, health issues—such as asthma and cancer—due to the constant and highly concentrated chemical emissions and other pollutants in the air. She pointed out that most residents keep their windows closed all the time, even on hot summer days, in their attempts to shield themselves from the fumes. 

As she spoke, the tour attendees tried in vain to use scarves and shirts to cover their noses, as headaches and nausea quickly set in. Alicia pointed to every home on the street and explained that she had knocked on all of their doors over the years to learn how the refinery was affecting them. She let us know there wasn’t a single family that hadn’t experienced cancer, and some of the residents she spoke to had tragically passed away recently. Residents informed her that while they did not want to live in such a toxic environment, they could not afford to escape it by moving away. 

As we drove away from Wilmington and toward Long Beach Harbor, Alicia pointed out more refineries. She said that while they weren’t currently producing oil used to make plastics, as California progresses towards eliminating gas vehicles in favor of electric, many of these facilities could transition into refining fossil fuels for plastic production in the future. 

As soon as we crossed the bridge and entered the city of Long Beach, we saw the industrial sights and salvage yards vanish, replaced by restaurants, retails shops, and even a Ferris wheel. This didn’t mean the oil industry wasn’t present in Long Beach, just that the residents were wealthy enough to complain. So the oil wells were situated away from residents on islands across from the multi-million dollar beachfront mansions, and were disguised as picturesque statues and buildings designed to keep residents blissfully unaware of their presence.

Plastics in the Water: Aboard the Alguita

We pulled over at a residential marina, and stepped onto the Alguita, a research vessel belonging to Captain Charles Moore, Founder of the Algalita Marine Research and Education organization and the first to bring attention to the plastic in the North Pacific Ocean gyre. After giving us an opportunity to look around the ship, Captain Moore showed us the “manta trawl,” which they used to pull plastics off the water’s surface, telling us that plastic is “now the most common surface feature. It’s changed our planet. It’s changed the actual appearance of our planet in the ocean.”

Captain Charles Moore speaks to the group. Photo by Dianna Cohen

Captain Moore was handed a jar of dirty water, swirling with bits of plastic, explaining that the manta trawl could only pull what plastic particles are on the sea surface, and in fact many plastic particles and items are colonized by microorganisms or are otherwise heavy enough to sink to the ocean floor.

That’s why we never find water bottles on the beach without a cap. If the cap is gone, the water bottle sinks and it’s on the bottom, we see big piles of them in the deep ocean.

–Captain Charles Moore, Founder of Algalita

He explained this is why we have to focus on stopping production of more plastics rather than investing in beach and ocean clean-ups. There is no hope of stopping this pollution unless we turn off the tap. Captain Moore made a point of telling us that nature does not make waste. The natural world operates circularly, with every stage of life supporting one another. He said it was humans, industry, and capitalism that created waste, which means it is on us to move away from our current systems and lifestyles and create a circular system once again, one where every product and byproduct serves a purpose.

Plastic-Free Lunch

Finally, it was time for us to take a break. We stepped across the street and into Captain Moore’s garden. There, the group found a delightful reprieve from the harsh realities we faced throughout the morning up until a few moments before. There we were greeted with freshly made lemonade and jamaica (hibiscus tea) that had been sweetened by stevia plucked from nearby bushes. Under verdant avocado trees were platters of deviled eggs, produced by a staff member’s family chickens. Walking deeper into the maze of a garden, we discovered Chef Paul Buchanon from Primal Alchemy Catering, who was lovingly cooking vegan pizzas in a portable stone oven.

Chef Paul Buchanon. Photo by Kate Folb

Just across the way, under a pergola woven with grape vines, tables were set up with plated salads, featuring sweet peas, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and greens, all grown on site and each garnished with  edible flowers. Captain Moore pointed out that he had covered the ground with fresh bay leaves, much like the Romans did for their own feasts. The smell was fantastic!

As we dined, Dianna Cohen, Co-founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition, spoke about the importance of solutions. She reminded our entertainment-focused guests that the power of their words could influence audiences to see the realities of plastic’s endless toxic existence; to understand that divesting from fossil fuels means divesting from plastics; and to reach for reusables, refillables, and other systems that can help us build a just, nontoxic circular economy.

Salads fresh from the garden. Photo by Amelia Hanson

We finished our meal with a dessert of “chocolate pudding fruit,” or black Sapote, served with baby lemon bananas and loquats, adorned with a drizzle of honey, and a few tiny strawberries, which Captain Moore let us know came from a wild strawberry plant that appeared one day in his garden, seemingly from nowhere. With our bellies full, spirits lifted, and our chemical-emissions headaches a faint memory, we piled back onto the bus for our final stop.

Algalita Research Labs & a Refill Shop

Along the shorelines of Long Beach, we disembarked in front of the Algalita research labs and its neighboring refill shop. Still in the process of building, the members of Captain Moore’s team described their plans to fill the space with research and educational equipment. They showed us their reusable and accessible classroom kits, which are made available to educators, free of charge. The kits include a cell phone microscope attachment to look at plastics in fabrics, along with a beach sand sifting kit, with sand pulled from the nearby oceanside, full of pieces of plastic and waste of all sizes that students can examine and document.

Algalita Research Labs education table. Photo by Amelia Hanson

Before concluding his presentation, Captain Moore reminded us that we were on the ancestral lands of the Tongava people, and introduced us to his Tongva friend Anna Christensen, from Friends of Puvungna. She reminded us that we were presently standing on Native wetlands, and that these shorelines were a sacred site of creation, emergence, and gathering. She stressed the importance of reducing our society’s dependence on fossil fuels and transitioning to a green economy by listening to the land and the Indigenous people who originally lived here, and that restoration should not include bulldozing and erasing existing wetlands and wildlife habitats—which humans also need to survive. 

Finally, we made our way into the charming BYO Long Beach refill shop next door, which offers bulk soaps, detergents, teas and lotions, high-quality refillable safety razors built to last a lifetime, beauty products in cardboard, and countless other alternatives to toxic single-use plastics. Inside, Flip the Script on Plastics Project Coordinator Amelia Hanson pointed out how many of these products conveniently lacked branding, making shops like this ideal for TV and film shoots, which frequently struggle with finding creative ways to hide branded products from the camera. 

As we made our way back to USC, where we had started our tour, we took the opportunity to discuss the day and share stories of experiences as writers on set. One guest looked out the window as we again passed the Phillips 66 refinery to see that from one of the stacks, flames were emerging. It was a flare, which Alicia Rivera has told us signaled some sort of emergency in that area of the facility. We drew everyone’s attention to it, and some passengers noted that, where they were from in Ohio and Texas, they had seen those flares countless times, regarding them as a normal sight. The tour had changed their perspectives and reminded them that there was nothing that should be viewed as normal or natural about oil refineries and plastic’s toxic cycle of existence.

Learn More & Get Involved

Learn more about Flip the Script on Plastics, and if you are interested in attending or supporting a future tour, event, or experience like this, please contact

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Julia Bogoney from Friends of Puvungna as speaking to the group. Julia Bogoney passed away in 2021


July 20 , 5:00 pm 6:00 pm EDT

The average film production uses as many as 39,000 single-use plastic bottles over a 60-day period. Removing single-use plastics from sets not only saves money, it can also help influence what is shown on screen and help transform our culture from viewing single-use plastics as “normal”— because they’re not. Through the power of collaboration, entertainment unions, advocacy organizations, and stars use their influence to divest from single use-plastic, both behind and in front of the camera.

During this thought-provoking discussion, we will explore the power of the entertainment industry to drive positive change to measurably reduce plastic pollution by eliminating single-use plastic in production. Joining the conversation will be Ellen Crawford, Actor and Union Activist; Asher Levin, Creative Director of the Environmental Media Association (EMA); and Emellie O’Brien, CEO & Co-founder of Earth Angel. The panel will be moderated by Jordan Howard, Founder of ShftSpace.

Please note: While this webinar may touch on the ongoing union strikes in Hollywood, these topics will not be central to the discussion. We will focus on elimination and reduction of plastics on set and in production.

Date: Thurs., July 20
Time: 2-3 pm PT | 5-6 pm ET
Click here to convert to your timezone.


Ellen Crawford

Ellen Crawford has been a working actor all her life, on stage, television and film. Ellen is probably best known as Nurse Lydia Wright on the iconic series ER, and was happily reunited with George Clooney as her director on the film Suburbicon. Other films include the cult hit, The Man From Earth, the sequel MFE:Holocene, and Angel’s Perch. If you like playing “Where’s Waldo” you can spot Ellen and her husband multiple times in the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car, as she was part of the cohort leasing EVs that were fighting their demise. She starred in the comedy series Boomers and recently appeared on The Rookie. Ellen has worked on Broadway and Off-Broadway stages, as well as national tours and regional theater across the country.

Ellen is a passionate union activist, having focused these many years of service on organizing and education, serving as chair of the SAG-AFTRA National Organizing Committee and as a vice president of the California Labor Federation.

Asher Levin

Asher Levin has over 20 years of experience in entertainment and NGOs. Asher has steered multiple films as a director, writer, and producer; co-founded powerhouse digital media content studio, BRAT; created hit shows for Snap, Facebook Watch, and Studio71’s hit podcast “The Shadow Diaries”; and worked on campaigns and branded content for Toyota, H&M, YouTube, and many more.

Along with production, Asher has worked in the non-profit space for two decades creating campaigns and branded content for Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, The Wilderness Society, BOLD Nebraska, League of Conservation Voters, and many more. As Creative Director at the Environmental Media Association, Asher has helped steer all content and marketing as well as produce annual events: IMPACT (a two-day business summit) and the 30 year-old iconic Environmental Media Awards. Asher prides his success on diverse projects, strong relationships, and creative collaborations with well known on-screen talent.

Emellie O’Brien

Emellie O’Brien (EOB) is the Founder & CEO of Earth Angel. A pioneer of the sustainable filmmaking movement, she has worked with over 100 major motion pictures and television series to reduce their environmental impact since 2011. Recent clients include the Emmy and Golden Globe–winning series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Aronofsky’s Oscar-winning film The Whale. Her sustainability leadership on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 contributed to it being acclaimed as “the most eco-friendly blockbuster in Sony Pictures’ history.” EOB holds a BFA in Film & Television from NYU, is a Climate Reality Corps Leader, an inaugural Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses alum, and 2018 Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 Rising Star. She also sits on the board of the Hollywood Climate Summit and the Production Initiatives Association.


Jordan Howard

Jordan Simone Howard is a storyweaver and entrepreneur. Founder of ShftSpace, she has advised brand leaders, foundation officers, and politicians and is now cementing her legacy in story, art, education, and real estate development. Over the years, she’s led strategies and advised on cultural properties that continue to enable engagement verticals and policy + supply chain shifts for Fortune 500 brands, d2c models, grassroots nonprofits, and government entities.

Jordan’s partners have included Dell, Warner Bros., Hulu, Planned Parenthood, Microsoft, the U.S. State Dept, UN Foundation, the Binary Fountain, and many more. Jordan activates her intuitive abilities as a spiritual medium with her unique experience as an elite strategist and storyteller for connectivity, healing, and innovation. Her magic lies in interconnecting the language and learnings of generations with the cosmic possibilities of imagination and ancestry. Her work focuses on enabling verticals to invest, equip, and activate people and communities to solve problems for people and the planet.


o Flip the Script on Plastics
o Environmental Media Association (EMA)
o Earth Angel
o ShftSpace
o SAG-AFTRA & Other Groups Launch Green Council Initiative To Promote Eco-Friendly Entertainment (Deadline)