September 23rd, 2019


A Sea of Plastic: **1/2

Now on Netflix

I don’t think like a mainstream environmentalist. I view humanity’s responsibility to the planet very much like my responsibility to the apartment complex where I live.

My cats scratch the carpet, they vomit on the carpet, and they even rub their butts across it sometimes. I do not feel like I’m a bad tenant. Stuff happens.

I do not smoke. But if I did, I would shamelessly smoke inside my apartment until the walls were yellow. I would not feel like I’m a bad tenant. Smoke happens.

I’m here to live my life and be happy, not tip toe around like I have something to feel guilty about.

But if I discovered that the stuff I was bringing into the apartment was non bio degradable, I would view that a problem that needs to change. If I learned that my trash would be junking up the apartment complex for millions of years, I would feel like a bad tenant.

According to the upsetting documentary “A Sea of Plastic,” the problem of plastic in our oceans is even bigger and more insidious than it sounds.

There are the obvious issues, like the bottom of the sea becoming a pile of garbage and large plastic bags and ropes entangling seals and choking whales.

But then the whole pieces of trash get broken down by sun and surf and become little chunks of plastic. Fish and birds eat these little chunks and slowly starve because their digestive system is choked with microplastics. The long-term effects of an ocean filled with trillions of inorganic shards is unknown and frightening.

There are also microbeads in consumer goods like face wash and toothpaste that make it to the ocean and poison the entire food chain.

“Hey,” you say, “we should all separate our garbage and toss our plastic in the recycling. Problem solved.” Unfortunately no.

According to “A Sea of Plastic,” the US doesn’t have nearly enough recycling capacity. In reality, a good percentage of what we thought we were recycling actually just got dumped into landfills.

Even worse, we actually export our recyclable plastic to countries like the Philippines and Vietnam that have weaker environmental regulations. So not only are we selfishly junking up poorer countries with our plastic trash, a lot of it ends up – you guessed it – in the ocean.

In turns out that recycling plastic is like going to Confession. It is a meaningful ceremony that helps clear your conscience. But it doesn’t make much tangible change in this world.

The only real solution is a permanent reduction in the production of plastic. Bravo to the environmentally conscious people who are finding ways to buy less plastic! But this problem is so enormous that we need a collective response as well. I support any government law that taxes, regulates, or even bans the use of plastic in disposable products.

If the government refuses to act, we could start dumping our plastic refuse on the lawns of the boards of directors for Coca Cola and Pepisco. When the piles get high enough, I think they will agree to switch back to aluminum cans.

As you can tell, I didn’t give “A Sea of Plastic” **1/2 stars because I disagree with the message. I can’t fully recommend the movie because it provides a half hour worth of information in a two hour running time. There are scores of made-up statistics that no one could possibly know and superfluous scenes with animal experts repeating the same message.

I didn’t need to hear the bogus prediction that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 or see another dead bird stomach full of colored microplastics.

I was already completely won over by the film’s premise: we are being rude, trashy tenants to our kindly landlord planet earth. Let’s do better!

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