Kicking a Bag Habit
Sea Studios premieres its World Ocean Day film festival.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
The Sea Studios headquarters is cluttered with a lot of things, but virtually none of it is disposable plastic.
Sure, the footage lining the studio’s shelves is archived in plastic cases, and some of the equipment is made of synthetic resin. But those are long-lived products. The taboo here is the plastic we use for a just few minutes before tossing: grocery bags, Styrofoam cups, product packaging.
In a 10-minute tour of the somewhat scrambled three-story office, which practically teeters over Monterey Bay on Cannery Row, I don’t spy a single piece of throwaway plastic. That’s no coincidence: Sea Studios is on a crusade against the stuff.
“Our area of competency is creating a message that people can understand,” says Daniella Russo, Sea Studios’ marketing guru. “And in a positive way.”
“IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO RECYCLE. LET’S OPT NOT TO USE PLASTIC BAGS. LET’S CHOOSE NOT TO BUY PRODUCTS WRAPPED IN PLASTIC.”
This Saturday, Sea Studios hosts its first annual film festival in honor of World Ocean Day, June 6. The theme, “Think Beyond Plastics,” aims to break our addiction to the non-biodegradable junk that goops up the sea, kills hundreds of thousands of animals every year, and administers a steady trickle of poison into our bodies.
The festival kicks off at noon with Marina of the Zabbaleen, a documentary that views a recycling village in Cairo, Egypt, through a 7-year-old girl’s eyes. The little protagonist spends her days sorting paper from a mountain of garbage in her squalid landfill village, dreaming of one day returning to the farm where her family once lived.
Next up, at 2:30pm, is Message in the Waves. The BBC/Animal Planet production offers a Hawaiian perspective on global plastic pollution, but makes clear that the problem is global: Our plastic litter permeates every square inch of the sea and kills countless marine animals, including 40 percent of the albatross chicks on the Midway Atoll. Each of the 1.2 trillion plastic bags used worldwide every year serves its purpose for an average of 12 minutes, then becomes an environmental plague for generations.
Stats like these guarantee you’ll never view your plastic latte lid the same way again. You might even stop buying lattes in disposable cups – and tote your own stainless steel mug instead.
The final film, airing at 5pm, is Sea Studios’ own Dirty Secrets, an episode of the National Geographic Strange Days on Planet Earth series in which the host, actor Edward Norton (with perpetually furrowed brow), explores the troubling proliferation of marine debris.
“It’s about the wasteful ways of a society that’s become dedicated to a disposable lifestyle,” Russo says.
Sea Studios doesn’t stop at film production. It also flexes its message in virtual space, with a website on marine debris at www.greatgarbagepatch.org; another on the bag battle at droptheplasticbag.org; and corresponding Facebook pages for each cause. Six “strangepods” summarize the weird consequences of pollution and resource depletion in snappy podcasts. And of course, the studio tweets: www.twitter.com/SSFMonterey.
The goal, Russo says, is to inspire change at all levels of the consumption cycle: pressuring legislators to clamp down on plastic production; convincing manufacturers to reduce packaging and switch to eco-friendly materials; working with retailers to offer alternatives to plastic bags; and educating people to buy products with minimal packaging and carry reusable containers.
Reducing zombie trash on a finite planet might sound like a no-brainer, but the plastics industry’s lobbying arm, the American Chemistry Council, is known for its heavyweight tactics against the growing anti-plastic movement. (See the Weekly’s coverage of the spreading ban on take-out Styrofoam, which Carmel, Monterey and Pacific Grove have already adopted and Seaside and Marina are considering.)
“I don’t want to start a pissing match with the ACC,” Russo says. “But it’s not enough to recycle. Let’s opt not to use plastic bags. Let’s choose not to buy products wrapped in plastic.”
The film festival, partly funded by the Packard Foundation and co-sponsored by the Weekly, will end with a panel discussion at 6pm. Local organizations will be on hand with materials on how to get involved.
For Brownie points, bring your own bag.
SEA STUDIOS’ FILM FESTIVAL is on World Ocean Day, Saturday, June 6, noon-7pm. Cannery Row IMAX Theater, 640 Wave St., Monterey. $6/film or $15/day. Purchase tickets at IMAX box office, website or by phone: 372-4629. www.seastudios.com/filmfestival.php.