Saturday, August 22, 2015

Movies to Watch

Hi Reusers!

In recent weeks I have watched three movies that had mindful impact on me and the way I think about the reuse/recycle/"life hack"/DIY (Do it Yourself)/eco/fair trade/organic/green movements. In fact, even just listing off that long line of terminology is a daunting task. If something is organic it is not always fair trade, fair trade may not be ecologically sustainable, a "life hack" or DIY project may not promote reusing, our recycling may or may not actually be reprocessed. We have created these systems of disconnect that remove us from being cognizant of the social and environmental impact we are having on our planet. As well, we have bought into a system that hierarchically places consumption over the environment. Whether it is the fashion industry producing clothes in factories with unregulated working and environmental conditions maintaining little accountability for human and natural life being harmed OR relying heavily on plastics and having their never ending lifespan find a home in our oceans OR embracing a planned obsolescence of everyday products and placing priority on our recycling and garbage bins before reuse bins, we are further distancing ourselves from ecological sustainability in the short and long term. Here is a list of these three films:

The True Cost (2015, Directed by Andrew Morgan)

Description from WebsiteThe True Cost is a documentary film about the impact of fashion on people and the planet. Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, and Vandana Shiva, The True Cost is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the globe and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes. See more at:

Some of the most poignant moments of the film come from the juxtaposition of Black Friday madness in the USA and observable conditions in garment manufacturers. This idea of "fast fashion" harms so many people and environments (two examples from the movie include the Rana Plaza disaster and the unimaginable rate of farmer suicide in India) but because we don't see those direct impacts when we enter retailers like H&M, Gap, or Zara to buy a $5 shirt we are blind to the social justice and environmental issues these countries face. Definitely eye-opening. I'd recommend this movie for discussion and research in high school social studies classes, in fact, you can easily send a screening request form by going to this link. This movie is now up on Netflix if you have a chance to watch it.

Addicted to Plastic (2008, Directed by Ian Connacher)

Description from Website: ADDICTED TO PLASTIC is a feature-length documentary about solutions to plastic pollution. The point-of-view style documentary 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 hopeful perspective about our future with plastic.

How much plastic do you throw away on a daily basis? How much do you recycle? How much do you reuse? What I love the most about the "reuse/DIY/life hack" movement is that overall it does promote the repurposing of our so-called "garbage." It takes a lot of what we got wrong over the last 100 years (as this movies spans) and flips our mentality to find the inherent value in plastics trash. The movie is quite optimistic and I love all the profiles of companies who are trying to change the standards of plastics productions. I created some pins on the Art Supply Exchange's Pinterest board about two of these companies Ocean Sole and Conserve India, but they are only small initiatives in a larger global problem. I think Creative Reuse Centres across the world are helping to bring both awareness and popularity to the hierarchy of the reduce (1st priority), reuse (2nd), recycle (3rd) chain.

The Boxtrolls (2014, LAIKA, Directed by Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable) Based on the book "Here Be Monsters!" by Alan Snow

Description from Website: The Boxtrolls is a comedic fable that unfolds in Cheesebridge, a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with wealth, class, and the stinkiest of fine cheeses. Beneath its charming cobblestone streets dwell the Boxtrolls, foul monsters who crawl out of the sewers at night and steal what the townspeople hold most dear: their children and their cheeses. At least, that’s the legend residents have always believed. In truth, the Boxtrolls are an underground cavern-dwelling community of quirky and lovable oddballs who wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells.

LAIKA is a amazing animation production company that specializes in stop motion animation. If you're an adult, you may shrug off animated films because they may seem like films for children, but LAIKA's movies (Paranorman, Coraline) are highly sophisticated in their dealing of the human condition and beautifully designed, animated, and produced. The Boxtrolls intricately weaves together themes of understanding and tolerance, as well as, environmental sustainability. I got excited by the visual world they created for the Boxtrolls, which is built on the repurposing of throw aways. At the end, they even implemented reuse bins on the streets of Cheesebridge. Definitely another crowning achievement from LAIKA.


Happy Reusing, folks!

-Erika Folnovic

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