LIVINGSTON, NJ, — In honor of Earth Day, the Livingston Environmental Commission, Clean Communities Program, Recycling & Reclamation Committee, Livingston Public Library and the League of Women Voters of Livingston will co-sponsor a free and open presentation of the documentary film “’Bag It’ - Is Your Life Too Plastic?” on Wed., April 22 at 7 p.m. at the Livingston Public Library. After a brief discussion, those who sign a pledge to use reusable bags instead of plastic bags will receive a Livingston Living Green easily accessible, reusable bag that compacts down into a pouch when not in use.
This 74-minute film follows Jeb Berrier, an average American guy, admittedly not a "tree hugger," who makes a pledge to stop using plastic bags. His girlfriend, Anne, joins him in the challenge to decrease their use of plastic at home. This small action gets Jeb thinking not only about plastic bags, but other kinds of plastic as well.
"What is plastic made of?” Jeb will ponder. “Is it recyclable? Does it decompose when it ends up in the landfill? Does plastic have negative health effects?"
As Jeb becomes more interested, he embarks on a global tour to unravel the complexities of our plastic world. He begins his journey by delving into the history of the plastic bag and how they have become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives.
Only 50 years ago, plastic bags did not exist. Jeb travels around the world to find better possible models. Plastic bags then lead Jeb into the world of 'single-use disposable' plastic. He goes into a well-known coffee chain and is incensed to see everyone sitting inside using to-go cups. Jeb alludes to a 'culture of convenience,’ where humans want everything now and fast.
According to the film, most people don't consider the massive amount of plastic wrappers, food containers, bottles and packaging materials that make up an average American's plastic waste per year, which is 800 pounds. Upon thinking about this massive amount of waste from only single use disposables, Jeb then begins to consider the rest of the community’s waste.
“What really happens to items that have the chasing arrows recycling symbol on them?” Jeb wonders. “Do they all really get recycled? What do the numbers mean?”
Jeb does extensive research on the matter and still finds himself confused. He ultimately finds that recycling is very confusing, which is why “Bag It” attempts to get to the bottom of it all.
“Bag it” explores the impact of plastic on marine life. Jeb’s research indicates that plastic never fully degrades, and when it is “thrown away” and some of it finds its way into our waterways, and eventually, oceans. Plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, and marine animals are ingesting these bits of plastic, which will ultimately kill them. It is estimated that over a hundred thousand birds and marine animals die each year from ingesting (or getting entangled in) plastic debris. Jeb learns that the chemicals in plastics are making their way up the food chain and onto dinner plates.
While “Bag it” is a film that deals with a serious subject, the film's tone and mood is kept light to keep audiences engaged and entertained. The Library expects the presentation of “Bag it” to draw in a broad range of people, rather than just environmentalists. They said that although many environmental films leave viewers disheartened and feeling helpless, “Bag it” will leave viewers feeling empowered, informed, and excited to create change starting today.