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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Addicted to Plastic

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October 01, 2010

Movie Review Friday: Addicted to Plastic

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Addicted to Plastic (2008)

Available on DVD, or watch online for free

From polyester bed linens to microwaveable Tupperware, we’ve drowned ourselves in plastic. But the petroleum-based stuff is poisoning the planet and, in turn, intoxicating us. As filmmaker Ian Connacher discovers during his two-year odyssey through five continents, life in plastic, it’s just not so fantastic (sorry, Barbie).

This eye-opening documentary follows plastic's global journey, whisking viewers through labs, landfills, and recycling centers. It unravels plastic's history and introduces alternative non-synthetic materials, such as biodegradables made of vegetables and even chicken feathers.

Since plastic doesn't biodegrade, every piece of it that has ever been made (except for the tiny amount that’s been incinerated) still exists. To prove this point, Connacher transports us 1,000 miles off the U.S. West Coast, where an oceanic depression is accumulating all the plastic we’ve junked over the past century. 

The magnitude of the problem is bewildering: every square mile of ocean contains an average of 46,000 pieces of plastic, according to the U.N. Along its journey from sidewalk to river to sea, plastic amasses dangerous chemicals that then get eaten by marine animals. Eventually the toxins travel up the food chain to us.

With its flagrant music and unexpected camera angles, this film entertains throughout. It even depicts the tribulations of a cartoon resin bead, the building block of plastics. He’s fat, innocent, and cute as a button (not surprising, since he and his friends comprise plastic buttons). It’s a must-see.

Interestingly, though, Connacher does not advocate for simply consuming less. On the contrary: He dramatizes the plastic-free lifestyle as a dreary existence, in which splintering wooden picks replace toothbrushes. Instead of blaming us for overconsuming disposables, the film inspires us with the tales of smart entrepreneurs who will presumably solve our problems.

We’re left with a sense of possibility, not personal responsibility.

--Natalya Stanko

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