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Bag It

by on October 11, 2010
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I know what you’re thinking…not another “save the environment” documentary, right?

Yes, but no, really, this one’s worth it, focusing on a specific issue, listing the harmful effects associated with this issue, and at least some of the things we can do to help.

“Bag It” starts off with a simple question: why do we use so much plastic? The answer of course is that it’s sturdy, versatile, easy to make, cheap and…is made from oil.

Yes, oil. That same fossil fuel we pump into our vehicles is also the prime ingredient in every bit of plastic in our lives, from grocery bags to pens to televisions to the little things on the end of your shoelaces.

So in other words, those conspiracy theorists who claim the government wants to keep us addicted to oil, they have one more pretty big-time piece of evidence to support their claims.

Director Suzan Beraza is smart to use a “regular guy named Jeb Barrier who is sort of a less-polarizing, less-smarmy and more likable Michael Moore type. He is our guide, but is a much more passive, informative one, much less confrontational than Moore, so maybe that comparison isn’t the best.

Jeb discusses the role of plastic in our lives, why we use it and why perhaps we should second guess that decision. He goes into great detail on plastic grocery bags, which he points out have been banned in a lot of foreign countries and in a lot of states as well.

He wonders aloud why we must use these bags, which do not break down and clog landfills, drainage ditches, seaways, and junk drawers in our homes. Bits of bags are increasingly being found in the stomachs of sea turtles and other marine life. Why can’t we just use paper, or better yet reusable bags, to do our shopping?

Barrier expands his discussion to include plastics of all sort, and specially looks at plastics that are used to line our disposable cups. Why, he asks, are cups designed to be used once, such as fast-food and coffee-chain cups, lined with plastic, which, by the way, is associated with diseases and disorders ranging from autism to ADHD to cancer?

It’s a compelling discussion, and an enlightening one too, full of information that your average person might not know otherwise. It’s presented in a fun, light-hearted manner, at least as light-hearted as the suggestion that a substance we all use every single day, many times over, might be the cause of a myriad of health problems and might be poisoning us and helping to make our environment that much less hospitable to us.

I’d call it an important social issues film, certainly an above-average one, that mixes entertainment and accessibility with an urgent call to action.