Celebrate Reusables on Screen with Our New Tool

In the Northern Hemisphere, colder weather, longer nights, and time with family can often mean more opportunities to stream your favorite films and binge new or beloved TV shows. And if you’re anything like us, you can’t help but notice when a character you love has an emotional support water bottle, or when a beloved science fiction show knows enough about the harm of microplastics to make them a key storyline. But how can you mark it when you do spot these moments? With our new Reusables on Screen Form, you can help us celebrate reusable and refillable wins on film and TV.

“Plastic is Forever” is the slogan plastered across the promotional posters for the new Mean Girls movie musical. And while the writers of this movie certainly are referencing the pivotal mean girl group of the movie, referred to as “The Plastics,” the double meaning isn’t lost on us. 

Those of us at Plastic Pollution Coalition and Flip the Script on Plastics like to think this slogan means Tina Fey and the producers of the film understand, on some level, the toxic nature of plastics, and that, loaded with that understanding, the movie just might contain a tangible lack of single-use plastics replaced with more sustainable, environmentally friendly reusable alternatives.

In fact, since launching our Flip the Script on Plastics initiative in 2021, we have noticed more and more reusables popping up in our favorite TV shows and movies. This year alone we found significant reusable water bottle placement in Sex Education (Netflix), Shrinking (AppleTV+), and the movie Theater Camp. But we are certain there are more sightings that we simply have not had time yet to catch and reflect, which is why we need you as a part of our community’s help.

The Reusables on Screen Form

Mean Girls, Paramount Pictures

Introducing our new tool, the Reusables on Screen Form. A quick and easy way for you to let us know where you see reusables, refillables, or language about plastic pollution reflected in popular culture, so that we can highlight these wins, thereby  showing Hollywood that ditching plastic isn’t so hard after all.
The process is simple: If you catch a reusable feature in a TV show or movie, be them brand spanking new, or 20+ years old, open our form and let us know. Give us as much information as you can, but don’t feel bad if you didn’t catch the exact time or episode it happened in, even the title will go a long way.

What About Single-Use Plastics on Screen?

Jury Duty, Amazon Prime

We are still watching out for single-use plastics that show up on our screens, but at Plastic Pollution Coalition, we prefer to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. And, unfortunately, the amount of plastics on screen can at times be so high it’s impossible to count. We’re hoping that one day the same goes for reusables, and the more we identify these wins on screen, the more we can encourage the entertainment industry to keep up the good work and highlight even more reusables. 

If you spot reusables on screen and submit it with our form, don’t forget to drop your social media handles if you are willing; we would love to celebrate you as well as the plastic-free moments! If we choose to highlight the reusables you found, we’ll tag you in our posts and let you join us in our joy that another piece of media is working to Flip the Script on Plastics. So go ahead, bookmark the form, and get watching!

Learn More & Get Involved

Sex Education, Netflix

Learn more about Flip the Script on Plastics, including additional resources and latest news on how we’re helping Hollywood eliminate single-use plastics from sets and storylines. To get involved with our initiative, contact Amelia@PlasticPollutionCoalition.org

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Hollywood, CA –  Plastic Pollution Coalition hosted a star-studded panel discussion on January 19 exploring the portrayal and prevalence of single-use plastics in film and TV, featuring Hollywood activists and artists Yareli Arizmendi, Fran Drescher, and Kyra Sedgwick, along with Dana Weinstein, Project Specialist for the Media Impact Project at the Norman Lear Center, USC. The panel was moderated by Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder, and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Hollywood Stars Plastic

As part of Plastic Pollution Coalition’s new multi-year initiative to “Flip the Script on Plastics,” these and many more entertainment industry players are putting into practice the old adage that “life imitates art” by modeling the systemic change needed to solve the plastic pollution crisis, a significant contributor to the climate crisis. They are part of a growing coalition of actors, writers, producers, and showrunners who are committing to shun single-use plastics on set and to use and show package-free and reusable and refillable systems on screen in popular television shows and movies.

Single-use plastics are the primary source of plastic pollution on the planet, with Americans alone discarding more than 30 million tons of plastic a year. With 99% of plastics made from fossil fuels, the climate and environmental justice implications are significant and increasing.  The plastics industry’s contribution to climate change is on track to exceed that of coal-fired power in the U.S. by 2030.

The first-ever analysis of the portrayal and prevalence of single-use plastics and reusable alternatives in popular scripted television conducted by the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center found them awash with plastic pollution, modeling a behavior contradictory to the industry’s oft-purported values. The report, commissioned by Plastic Pollution Coalition, with support from the Break Free From Plastic movement and Plastic Solutions Fund, suggests that instead of portraying the unfortunate reality of excessive plastic use, films and TV shows could help change society’s throwaway culture by modeling life with less single-use plastic.

We are shaped and formed by what we watch. Media has the power to reimagine the world and blaze a trail to a more just, equitable, regenerative, healthy, thriving plastic-free world for all living beings, if we commit and act now.

Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO, Plastic Pollution Coalition

Decades of research show that scripted entertainment plays a powerful role in shaping our social norms, attitudes, and behavior on a wide variety of health and social issues. Thus, entertainment can be a highly effective medium for modeling sustainable practices and systems.

Dana Weinstein, M.A., Project Specialist at USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center

As President of SAG-AFTRA and Founder of Cancer Schmancer, I am excited about Plastic Pollution Coalition’s Flip the Script initiative; I am creating a seminal Green Council to clean up Hollywood and reduce our industry’s carbon footprint. We must be forward thinking and always consider innovations’ long-term impacts on the health of the planet.

Fran Drescher, actress, founder of Cancer Schmancer, and president of the Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)

Plastic Pollution Coalition is engaging the entertainment industry in both on- and off-screen efforts with the intention to change individual behaviors in homes and workplaces, and advocate for corporate and policy changes across the globe; some notable members of Plastic Pollution Coalition include Sergio Arau, Ed Begley, Jr., Jack Bender, Jeff Bridges, Jeff Franklin, Jake Kasdan, Mandy Moore, and Alfre Woodard, among others. 

Sign up for the webinar here.

Download the full report here.

About Plastic Pollution Coalition: Plastic Pollution Coalition is a growing global alliance of more than 1,200 organizations, businesses, and thought leaders in 75 countries working toward a more just, equitable world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, waterways, oceans, and the environment. 

About the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center: The Norman Lear Center is a nonpartisan research and public policy center that studies the social, political, economic and cultural impact of entertainment on the world. It is based at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

MEDIA CONTACT: Jen Fela, Vice President, Programs & Communications, jen@plasticpollutioncoalition.org

Be sure to check out the recording of our January 2022 Webinar: Flip the Script on Plastics in Hollywood: Rethinking Single-Use Plastics in Film & Television featuring activists and artists Yareli Arizmendi, Fran Drescher, and Kyra Sedgwick, along with Dana Weinstein, Project Specialist for the Media Impact Project at the Norman Lear Center, USC.