Currently watching: Trashed (2012)
Trashed is a 2012 Blenheim Films feature length documentary, produced and directed by British filmmaker Candida Brady and presented by Jeremy Irons. The film’s strapline “If you think waste is someone else’s problem … think again” sets out it’s stall: Waste is a problem – a big problem – and we’re all responsible for it.
Jeremy Irons takes us through the problem by looking at what happens to our rubbish in unregulated beach dumps such as in Lebanon, supposedly regulated incinerators and municipal dumps, and where rubbish dumped into the sea collects in the North Pacific Gyre.
Irons walks along the rubbish beaches in Lebanon, overshadowed by 40m tall piles of trash, and compares to his own childhood memories of searching for ‘beach treasure’ of small worn down fragments of coloured glass to emphasise to radical change in many of our lifetimes.
We get a flavour of how governments are failing to properly and safely regulate incinerators and landfills because it’s not in industry’s money-making interest to spend money on safety. The health implications are brought into focus with foetuses deformed by Agent Orange pickled in formaldehyde in Vietnam as well as some current day examples of health implications in Iceland and Wakefield (UK). We also meet Paul Dainton how has been campaigning against Welbeck Waste Management over the level of toxic landfill in his neighbourhood. Speculation on the increased cases of cancer in close radius to toxic landfills and poorly filtered incinerators is highlighted and it’s clear more research in this field is required to substantiate the claims.
We also meet Captain Charles Moore who began research in 1997 into the levels of pollution in the North Pacific Gyre aka the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The levels of plastic debris currently in the Pacific Ocean is currently x6 times greater than lifeforms. Moore explains that the ‘garbage patch’ is not actually an island of floating debris that you can see from satellites in space but is more of a soup of tiny plastic particles that just get smaller and smaller and never breakdown on a molecular level to be reused in nature.
The quantity and types of waste we produce now is unprecedented. A scientist explains to us what is so different about our rubbish today compared to a few decades ago: Plastic – single-use plastic specifically – creating the astronomical scale of waste. We get the science of why plastic is so toxic to marine life and how it gets into our food chain so quickly. The problem is not just rubbish ingestion quickly taking up room in marine animals stomachs literally starving them to death – the tiny fragments of plastic release and also attract toxic chemicals such as dioxins. Biomagnification occurs in the food chain where the higher up the food chain you are, the more concentrated the levels of dioxins, etc produced by plastics are present. Science man explains that the only way half a population can get rid of these high levels of toxins is to have a baby.
On the one hand this is a shocking and revealing account of the extent and urgency of the global waste problem, on the other it is reinforcing the problem we have known about for years and decades, have been giving plenty of warning about by scientists and nature itself and have failed to act on in the interest of future generations and the ultimate survival of life on earth.
It is largely preaching to the converted. I expect that most of the people who watch this film will already be waste conscious and be doing the ‘three Rs’ that the film recommends: Refuse, reuse and recycle (or reduce, reuse and recycle as it’s more commonly put). The cardboard DVD case (yes – the did think that one through) has 3 specific recommendations that can make a difference: 1. Reusable bags. 2. Reusable water bottles filled from the tap 3. Shop locally and take your own containers, as well as buy in bulk and buy second hand.
Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UM73CEvwMY